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Check Out Our Jack the Ripper Essay

In 1888, the London's East End saw a series of brutal murders of prostitutes. This series was attributed to a maniac nicknamed Jack the Ripper. Up to this day, these crimes remain unsolved. Was Jack the Ripper a maniac surgeon? Or was he a supporter of a ritual murder? Maybe, he was an insane member of the royal family. The only thing is clear: nobody has managed to solve this riddle till this moment (Begg 2003).

At the end of 19th century, the British Empire was at the time of its peak development. Its possession was scattered around the globe. They were inhabited by people of various races and religions. However, at the center of a vast empire, there was a place where, as journalists wrote, people never saw the sun. The London's East End was a shame to Britain and to the whole civilized world. People lived here in poverty and squalor. The child mortality in this area of the British capital was twice higher than the average rate in the country (Curtis 2001). Prostitution and binge drinking, sexual child molestation, murder, and fraud became common features of the local way of life. All this was a well-manured breeding ground for murderers whose black fame reached even nowadays. As a result, the streets and alleys of the East End were the scenes of his bloody deeds. Jack the Ripper's crimes, of course, were not comparable with the mass horrors seen by the humanity in the twentieth century. He killed only five women, but with a savage cruelty. In this case, the question is who a culprit was. There were strong suspicions that Jack the Ripper was a representative of the upper strata of the British society. In fact, these suspicions aroused such a great public interest to the “monster of the East End” (Curtis 2001).

The First Victim

Although Jack the Ripper remained in the history of crime as a disgusting murderer, his dark power over the East End was short-lived. The first blow was made on Aug. 31, 1888. That day Mary Ann Nichols, a prostitute, was hunted in the area of Whitechapel. She was brutally murdered (Eddleston 2002). Her body was found in a maze of dark alleys. 42-years-old “Pretty Polly” was known as a dipsomaniac and a frequenter of all the local eateries. It was very likely that the police suggested the following scenario of the crime. “Pretty Polly” reached a tall passer-by with a usual in such cases question: “Looking for entertainment, mister?” (Eddleston 2002) Most likely, she asked four pence for her services. This pittance was enough for her to pay for a place in a hostel and take a few sips of cheap gin. Once a man pulled her into a dark place, the fate of the prostitute was resolved. His arm stretched to her throat, and in a couple of seconds, it was cut from ear to ear. “This could have been done only by a madman, - said a police doctor. – I have never seen anything like it. Slaughtering her in such a way was possible only for a person who knows how to handle a knife”. Since the murder in the impoverished and dangerous area of the East End was a common phenomenon, the police did not attach much importance to this case, but only for one week. On September 8, a 47-years-old prostitute “Darkie Annie” Chapman, seriously ill with tuberculosis, was found beheaded near the market of Spaytelfiod (Evans & Rumbelow 2006). Although, there was no evidence of rape, the nature of the murder, as in the first case, pointed out that the culprit was cutting and gutting the victim under the influence of strong sexual arousal. In addition, the dismemberment of the body of “Darkie Annie” (all of her interior was laid beside the corpse) showed the evidence that a killer had knowledge of anatomy or surgery (Eddleston 2002). So clearly, it was not an ordinary criminal.

The Monster Having Fun

The second murder had an unexpected continuation. On September 28, news agency in Fleet Street received a humiliating letter. It said: “On all sides before I heard rumors that the police caught me. And they still have not even figured me. I hunt for women of a certain type, and will not stop killing them as long as I am caught. The Last Case was a great work. The lady did not even have time to scream. I love this job and I am ready to repeat it. Soon you will learn about me again. Having finished the last thing, I brought a bottle of ink from the ginger lemonade along with me to write a letter, but it got thickened as glue. So, I decided I could use red ink. Next time, I will cut off their ears and send them to the police, just like that, just for fun” (Begg 2006). The letter was signed “Jack the Ripper” (Begg 2003). The following letter sent to the Commission for the protection of the order in Whitechapel had an attached half of kidneys. The sender claimed that the kidney was cut from the dead and that he ate the other half. Of course, the investigators were not sure that the second letter was sent by the same person, who posted the first one. However, it was already known that the Ripper cut his victims’ bodies. Cleverly slitting their throats, he dismembered a body, cut a person, opened the abdominal cavity and removed the innards. Sometimes, he left them next to the corpse, sometimes he took them with him. The Ripper's third victim was Elizabeth Stride, nicknamed “Tall Liz” due to her height. On September 30, a junkman passing with his cart on Berner Street in Whitechapel noticed a suspicious site and reported it to the police. In such a way, the body of a 44-years-old Liz was found. As in previous cases, the victim's throat was cut. However, there were no injuries or signs of sexual excesses on a body. The police decided that the culprit was ashamed of his nefarious deeds. However, on the same day they found the victim number four.

Edous Catherine, who was forty, was found dismembered, and her face was cut up, her guts were on her right shoulder; both ears were gone. By that time, London was wracked by fear. Many women began to carry knives and whistles to call the police. Newspaper “Illustrated London News” jokingly offered noble ladies to buy guns with handles, decorated with pearls, in case the Ripper decided to extend his murders social sphere. One of the stores began to advertise even steel corsets. In the Whitechapel, policewomen began to dress and makeup for prostitutes in the hope that the perpetrator would peck at the bait and get them (Evans, Skinner 2000). It got to the farce. The murder of Kill Edous alarmed police to the extreme measure. Her body was mutilated much stronger than in previous cases. The bloody trail went from the corpse to the shreds of a tattered apron near the entrance. Next to the door on the wall a phrase was written with chalk: “Jews are not the people to be blamed for anything”. Sir Charles Warren, a head of the police, personally erased the inscription, and thus, he might have destroyed a very important piece of evidence. However, he feared that the label could have cause a wave of hostility among the influx of the Jews from Eastern Europe in the East End.

Rumors and Suspicions

Rumors about who could be the killer spread like a wildfire. Some residents were so frightened that they even said that it was a policeman on patrolling streets. The other suspect was a Russian physician named Michael Ostrog. A version that he allegedly had been sent to the Tsarist secret police stirred up hatred of the Jewish emigrants was born there. There were those who claimed that the criminal was a kooky surgeon. Even Sir Charles Warren, a known Freemason, was affected by the suspicion. It was suggested that he erased the inscription on the wall to save a killer mason from the penalty. The last murder occurred on November 9. The only difference was the fact that the victim belonged to a higher category of prostitutes – she had her own room. Mary Kelly, twenty-five years old, was brutally murdered and mutilated in the room she rented. This time, the Ripper had plenty of time to enjoy himself in his nefarious work. In the morning of November 10 the owner of the house, Henry Bowers, visiting tenants and collecting rents, knocked on the door of Mary. All previous evening an attractive blonde spent with her usual occupation – she pestered passersby, begging for money. The last man with whom she was seen, - a tall, dark-haired man with a mustache and a felt hat – perhaps, was her killer (Vigouroux 1965). At autopsy, by the way, it turned out that the woman was in her third month of pregnancy. At this point, the chain of brutal murders was broken. However, even now, more than a century later, the mystery of a short but bloody orgy by the Ripper remains unsolved. In fact, one of the suspects caused particular excitement in the community, as it was the grandson of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert Victor, the Duke of Clarence. Suspicion fell on him just because there was a lot of talk about his madness. Immediately, after the murders Prince reportedly was sent to a mental hospital in order to avoid scandal. Duke was the eldest son of the future King Edward VII. They said that he was bisexual and damaged his mind after being infected with syphilis. Yet, Jack the Ripper remained to be an unknown serial killer who acted in Whitechapel and surrounding areas of London during the second half of 1888 (Evans & Skinner 2001). The legends surrounding the Ripper became a combination of historical research, conspiracy theories and folklore. There is no confirmed information about the identity of the killer. In fact, one of the most controversial issues is the level of Jack’s knowledge in anatomy. Debates on the subject began at the time when the murder occurred, and continue with research on the case of the Ripper ever till now. The reason for this was the reports of medical experts who conducted the autopsy of victims who argued that the nature of some injuries was professional, indicating that the killer could have been a highly qualified surgeon. So, who was he? How did he receive the medical knowledge that he used in his surgery nightmares, if he was poor? How could he not strike the eye of abject poverty that prevailed in the East End, if he was rich? (Fido1987). How did he manage to be undetected, when such a terrible surgery takes, at least, an hour? These questions remain unanswered. The police closed the case a few months after the death of Mary Kelly. Although, they were continued by some enthusiasts, they have not progressed further than assumptions.

The time of Jack was closely connected with huge changes in society. There was a rapider change, and the more acute crisis becomes, the greater is the temptation to jump into a utopia for the sake of an idea of the common good. Surely, Jack the Ripper could not destroy sixty millions of people. This would require a great idea that could ignite the hearts of millions of people and artists to create cadres of terror (Marcuse 1941). All totalitarian systems are based on a big idea that inspired and captured people. Without a great idea, one can create a police state. Totalitarian state could not be created. Hence, there was the need for something to counter as the great idea of giving a simple solution to all problems. Hence, it is the story where no killer or sadist bastard can do as much evil as enthusiasts of good deals (Marx 1844). People wanted to fight for the idea: they looked for the Ripper, but committed even bigger evil. The task of the intelligentsia, according to Carl Marx, was not to enter into a dialogue with fanatical ideas, but to seek to turn them into the war of ideas. The direction of classical economics, developed by Karl Marx (1818-1883), received a strong political approach to economics. Developing the concept of Adam Smith's work as a source of economic value (labour theory of value), Marx argued that in the capitalist production process extra cost is obtained by the working class, leaving them with only necessary wage for their existence (Marriott 2005). From the point of view of Marx, capitalist economy should experience more profound crises that would eventually destroy capitalism, and then, the state would come under the control of the workers. Marx's predictions were largely incorrect. While the crisis continued to exist, the standard of living in capitalist countries increased and led many workers to support the capitalism (Lukacs 1948). Jack the Ripper killed a specific strata of the society in which they lived: Great Britain flourished, and such people as prostitutes, living on a mere wage, did not deserve to be a part of it.

Materialists, and Marx among them, believed that people are animals, which would adhere to the instincts of animals above all: the desire to eat, to have sex and to destroy an enemy. Jack the Ripper was a bright example of such person. He, supposedly, had power and education, but still he was obsessed by his animal instincts. Consequently, according to Marx, even people with a higher education are animals with scientific intelligence, linking his career, morality, and everyday well-being (Evans & Skinner 2000). A flock of Marxist scholars, who taught people how to live and work, was obsessed with an idea to rule the society. Yet, they were the same animals (Jaeger 1967). Idealists believed that one created an image of a man guided by the idea. It was the person who changed the story without looking at life. Windy claims that Marx discovered the objective laws of social development, in other words, the laws that did not depend on the ideas of the mind and will of the people that made up this society, were nonsense (Kojève, 1947). In the company of people such laws could not exist. Indeed, there are objective laws of human behavior, but the development of a society is the result of the mind and will of the community members themselves (Cook 2006).

Capitalism, in practice, was a social system based on one of the most important legal principles – respect for individual rights. The bearer of capitalist principles of the new organization of a social system was a layer of urban residents (citizens), subsequently called “bourgeoisie”. The bourgeoisie was made up of the best parts of all three classes of the old feudal society and was the bearer of new principles of social progress. The ultimate goal was to create a bourgeois civil society in the form of the bourgeois state, based on the property rights of private property and the parliamentary form of government, as well as nurture a private person, a free person, and a citizen, as a member of a bourgeois society. The sources of financing of the bourgeois revolutions were all kinds of redistribution of property (nationalization of the means of production of the aristocracy, the confiscation of property, etc.) and the sale of nationalized means of production and the confiscated property, direct and indirect taxes, internal and external loans, the interest on them, donations of various layers population, the production of new money (paper money issue) and getting a high premium.

In fact, capitalism proved to be the most ruthless, brutal and uncompromising form of slavery. The basic principle of the capitalist order of a society, its main goal, is profit. Profit – at any cost. All other principles either disappeared or became a mere formality, a tribute to the tradition of the elderly, remembering other times.

After all, the principles of capitalism were for labor and protection of private property rights. Meanwhile, there was the complete absence of moral, ethical, spiritual, universal principles. These were days when everyone was encouraged to outwit his neighbor. These were days when any huckstering activity was allowed. It turned fraud into the law. There was no place in business for justice, conscience, and decency. So how could the weak be protected? It turned out that it was an easy question. The answers to this were the following: meanness, cunning, horse-trading, corruption, bribery, deceit, intrigue, betrayal, theft, forgery and money. After yet another principle of capitalism says: “Not caught – not a thief. And if caught – you have to hire highly paid lawyers who win any process”. Jack the Ripper appeared in such times when there was a big gap between people for crimes and frauds. Yet, he was an example of capitalism consequences: a person with a medical education turns into a ruthless killer bearing no consequences.

Consequently, the British Empire was a powerful state, which was ready to rule almost the whole world with its colonies. This was the state, which hosted people from various corners of the world. Yet, this was the society, which experienced its own problems. The Marxist economic theory distinguished different classes of people. Such stratified society was aimed at the development and prosperity. However, it proved that educated intelligence could not be always higher than a working class. Jack the Ripper was a provocative example of a murder that fought for his own principles following animal instincts, despite clear evidence of higher education. Jack the Ripper was a person who managed to undermine the principles of the ideology, which ruled the world. Finally, Jack was an example of how the system worked: the ideology killed the women, not a person. 

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