A brief overview of Jack the Ripper

Essay by abannanJunior High, 8th gradeB, March 2009

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‘Jack the Ripper’ is one of the names that were used as a title for a murderer in the City of London in 1888. The murderer evaded identification after murdering approximately five female prostitutes in the districts of Whitechapel, Spital fields, Aldgate and the City of London proper. The murders took place in late 1888, though other murders in Whitechapel lasted until 1891. The murderer is suspected as male Caucasian, middle-aged and is believed to have worked alone, though there is insufficient evidence which can prove these suspicions.

The victims varied in appearance, age and it is believed that none of them knew each other. All the women were drunk or thought to be drunk at the time of their death. Mary Ann Nichols is the first ‘Jack the Ripper’ victim and was murdered on Friday, August 31. Following is the murder of Annie Chapman, Saturday, September 8.

Elizabeth Stride is counted as the third victim; murdered on Sunday, September 30. It is believed that Catherine Eddowes is the fourth victim though she was murdered on the same date. It is theorized that the ‘Ripper’ was interrupted in the process of mutilating Elizabeth Stride and was unable to complete his task. The ‘Ripper’ then felt the need to kill Catherine Eddowes in order to complete his work. The last woman to be murdered by the ‘Ripper’ is believed to be Mary Jane Kelly, murdered Friday, November 9.

The method of how the women were killed remained similar as each provides evidence of strangulation, through the form of bruise marks along the neck, from which they either died or became unconscious from. The killer then placed the woman on the ground, shown by the lack of bruise on the back of the head, and then cut their throat from left to right, shown through the area in which the killer worked in. The ‘Ripper’ then executed various mutilations to the woman in which he removed organs of his fancy. The mutilation provided evidence that the killer had anatomical knowledge. In one case he was able to remove the kidney and leave the other organs undisturbed.

The era in which the murders were performed was significant in elaborating the murders as the general populace of London had become literate and the press was an influential force for social change. The press exposure elaborated the events and accumulated alternative theories and illustrated features of the killer as a man with various features that are peculiar; a bag of bloody organs; multiple scars and a wooden leg cast. This description then changed to create a character of mystery; ; a decorous man in dark clothing, slouch hat and carrying a shiny black bag of which he keeps his ‘tools’. The media of the 20th century then added to the alteration through the forms of books and movies.