"In the dark realm of serial killers, this is ground zero: the point from which virtually all history and all discussions begin. No other has so quickly captured and so long dominated the public's fascination as Jack the Ripper: the Whitechapel Murderer, the personification of mindless brutality, of nameless, motiveless evil." (Douglas & Olshaker, 19)
Arguably the world's most infamous serial killer, Victorian London's unidentified slasher of prostitutes remains an object of study--some say an obsession--for thousands of students today. "If we trust the faceless experts on Jeopardy, more books, plays, articles, and movie scripts have been written about Red Jack than about any other murderer in history, except Adolf Hitler. At that, Der Fuhrer had to kill some 20 million people just to break the tie, while Jack the Ripper slaughtered only five. Still, his (or her) identity remains an active topic of debate, with new works on the subject published every year."
"Because he got away." (Newton, 112)
Many people tend to believe that Jack the Ripper was the first serial killer in history. However, we know that this statement is false. The Whitechapel Murderer was "not the first serial killer, but he was probably the first to appear in a large metropolis at a time when the general populace had become literate and the press was a force for social change." (Ryder, Chisholm, & Scott, n.p.)
Before looking at the victimology and the criminal profile of the killer, it is important to take a look at the area and social context of life in the East End of London, more specific in Whitechapel and Spitalfields, at the end of the Victorian era, where these heinous and brutal slayings took place. Adventure novelist Jack London (The Call of the Wild) characterized this area as "The Abyss" after...