Jack the Ripper Source Analysis Coursework Essay
Firstly, the newspaper links the two murders by focusing on their similarities.
They both took place ‘within the last month’, which implies that the murders were connected. Both victims were of very low social status, being ‘the poorest of the poor’, therefore the motive of each murder was unknown, since the victims had nothing to steal. As well as this, the article also highlights the brutality of the murders, purporting that the killer used ‘extraordinary violence’ in each case; it also states that the murders ‘startled London’ which demonstrates the shocking nature of the murders further.
However, since source A is a newspaper article, the information it provides must be taken with a pinch of salt, as newspapers tend to sensationalize their stories in order to gain a greater readership.
2) Does the Evidence of Source C Support the Evidence of Sources A and B about the Ripper Murders? Explain Your Answer. Source C gives a very detailed account of the body of Elizabeth Stride.
It is quite objective and informative, merely stating observational facts.Whereas Sources A and B are more persuasive and speculative – they both harbour ideas about the nature of the murderer and his motives.
Source B speculates that the murderer has ‘considerable anatomical skill’. This view is partially supported by Source C – Dr Blackwell’s choice of the word ‘incision’ also implies that the murderer has skill. Additionally, Source C’s description of the cut makes the murderers intentions clear – he wants to instantly silence, and eventually kill his victim – with a swift cut across the windpipe.This supports the coroner’s view that the murderer makes ‘no meaningless cuts’.
Both Sources A and B indicate that the way the victims were killed was exceptionally brutal. Source A refers to ‘extraordinary violence’ and Source B talks about the murderer ‘find[ing]…
organs’. However Source C does not mention anything as lurid as the removal of organs, and the only violent act is the simple slitting of a throat – which, to me, is not violent to the extent that it is ‘extraordinary. Furthermore, the fact that the intended method of killing was a slit throat disagrees with the coroner’s assumption in Source B that the murderer could be ‘no mere slaughterer of animals’ – many animals are slaughtered with a quick, sharp cut along the throat, much like the one on Elizabeth Stride – so it could likely have been a slaughterer doing the work. Source A, probably to arouse the sympathies of its readers, focuses greatly on the vulnerability of the victims.
Source C, albeit tenuously, can be interpreted to support this view. The description of breath fresheners ‘wrapped in tissue paper’ found in Stride’s hand gives her personality. It makes her seem more feminine and innocent in the eyes of the reader, and therefore more vulnerable. The fact that ‘there was no money on the body’ could also support the newspaper article’s assertion that the victims were very poor.
However this could also be interpreted adversely – it opens up to the possibility that Stride was robbed, because if the motive for the murder was theft, the killer would most likely have taken all the money on her person; whereas if there was no ‘motive in the shape of plunder’, there might have at least been a small amount of loose change on the body. To conclude, the nature of the murder described in Source C does not coincide very neatly with the murders in Sources A and B.There are some similarities, as discussed above, between the descriptions, but the points of contention are greater. ) How Useful Are Sources D and E in helping you to understand why the Ripper was able to avoid capture? Elizabeth Long does not seem to have any ulterior motives for providing evidence – for instance, no reward was offered to her.
However, the utility of her evidence to the police is very low, because she herself is unsure of its accuracy. She frequently uses phrases that denote uncertainty, such as ‘he seemed…
‘ throughout her testimony. Although her description was quite useless to the police, it is very useful in helping us understand why the Ripper was not caught.Firstly, the characteristics that Long did pick up on, could be applied to any man in the area of Whitechapel – especially her recollection of him looking like a ‘foreigner’ – since most of the people living in Whitechapel were immigrants; making it very easy for the Ripper to blend in. Secondly, Ms Long did not find the activity suspicious enough to wait and see what happened next – if she did, she may have been able to witness the actual murder taking place.
This shows that the fact that the Ripper was targeting prostitutes meant that people turned a blind-eye to their activities.This made it even harder for the police to find any useful leads on the Ripper; since most people who saw prostitutes probably ignored them. Source E has a very obvious bias, since it is a newspaper article. It deliberately sensationalizes its story, calling Whitechapel an ‘apocalypse of evil’.
However, after stripping the article of its more fanciful descriptions, there are some facts about Whitechapel that would have definitely made it easier for the Ripper to escape from the crime scene.There were many ‘dark and crooked lanes’, in which it would be easy to hide in, even commit murder in, and still avoid detection. According to the article, Whitechapel itself was a chaotic, lawless environment, with ‘open and defiant ruffianism’. This means that it would have been difficult for the police to know who to focus on, since everyone would be partaking in illegal activities, and everyone would look suspicious.
Looking for the Ripper amongst all this would be like looking for a needle in a haystack. The article goes on to accuse the police of negligence.It blames them for the disorder in Whitechapel, asserting that ‘the police force ..
. should be strengthened and some kind of order created. ‘ The article states that although their informant warned the police that ‘murder would ensue’, he left each police office ‘without making an impression. ‘ This suggests that the police were to blame for the murders, because they did not do anything to control the ‘ruffianism’ in Whitechapel, and implies that they did not care about the state of the area; being too lazy to do anything about its problems.
One must bear in mind however, that this was a newspaper article, and in slandering the police, it may just have been humouring its readership – the police were unpopular with a lot of the public, especially the working class. What we can be sure of is that the nature of Whitechapel and its inhabitants made it very hard for the police to catch the Ripper, and if the police really were being neglectful, it would have made it all the easier for him to escape. ) Use Sources F and G, and your own knowledge, to explain how the police tried to catch Jack the Ripper. The Met Police was a relatively new organisation, and the Ripper murders were of a nature they had never encountered before.
Until then, the main duties of policemen were to maintain order on the streets, and to deter crime. This was done by performing regular patrols in the area on designated routes, called ‘beats’, and these beats were increased during the time Jack was making his attacks.However, criminal detection was not one of the police force’s strong points. The police did have a Criminal Intelligence Department, with almost 300 detectives, but this department was in a germinal state, with little experience and no developed procedure.
So actually finding the Ripper would have been an immense task for the police, who were ill-prepared for such an investigation. Source F – which can be trusted because it was written by the police themselves – clearly shows that the police relied heavily on witnesses.The leaflets, 80 000 of which were printed – demonstrating the desperation of the police – ask for information on anyone ‘to whom suspicion is attached. ‘ No definitive characteristics are given about how the suspicious person might look or behave, which proves that even after three murders, they had found no solid clues leading towards the murderer.
So without any valid evidence, the police had to resort to distributing leaflets, enquiring at lodging houses, and questioning characters whom they believed were suspicious; to try and find leads to the Ripper.This included butchers, slaughterers, and sailors. Interestingly enough, they did not question any doctors – even though the Coroner at Polly Nichol’s death believed that the murderer had ‘considerable anatomical ..
. knowledge’. The police assumed that the Ripper ‘was residing in the immediate neighbourhood’ of Whitechapel, the rationale of which is questionable, since it was not uncommon for men to travel from other parts of London to the East End in search of prostitution – and if the killer was a doctor, he may have been rich enough to live in a slightly wealthier part of London.As well as this, the police did not offer a reward to informants, because it ‘tended to do more harm than good’ according to the home secretary.
Instead they decided to use more unconventional tactics, such as employing bloodhounds to trace the Ripper’s scent, even though they had nothing for the hounds to trace the scent from. One policeman even dressed up as a prostitute, in the hope of ensnaring the Ripper, but his disguise fooled no one. Some members of the public believed the police’s investigation was inadequate and formed the Mile End Vigilance Committee, who took the search for the Ripper into their own hands.They evidently took the matter very seriously as they wrote to the home secretary asking him to supply a reward (Source G).
To them, the police were not trying hard enough. Although the police were in out of their depth as regards to the Ripper; and some of their decisions were questionable – they do seem to have put in a lot of effort – albeit futile – into their investigation. 5) ‘The police were to blame for not capturing Jack the Ripper. ‘ Use the sources and your own knowledge to explain whether you agree with this view.
To simply place the blame of the Ripper’s escape on the police is decidedly unfair. It was the responsibility of the police to capture the murderer, but there were many factors beyond their control that made it very difficult for them to carry out such a task. Most hindering for the police was the nature of the crimes. The Ripper murders were random serial killings of prostitutes, with ‘no adequate motive’ (Source A).
Finding links between the victims and murderer, was not easy, to say the least.The police could not predict who the next victim would be, especially when there were thousands of prostitutes in Whitechapel, the majority of them unrecorded. To their discredit, the police handled the few, tenuous links they had quite poorly. They pursued the unfounded notion that the Ripper was an animal slaughterer, even though the Coroner believed that the Ripper belonged to the medical profession, and was ‘no mere slaughterer of animals’ (Source B).
Despite this, the police did not investigate any doctors.They also assumed that the killer was ‘residing in the immediate neighbourhood’ (Source F) even though there was nothing to prove the assertion. However, if the police had not made these mistakes, capturing the Ripper wouldn’t have become any easier. The police did not have the resources to investigate every area of London, and if they did find a suspect, they needed evidence proving he was at the crime scene to convict him.
In this respect, the police were unlucky. During the 1880’s, forensic science was poorly developed.The police did not have the technology to gather convictable evidence such as DNA or fingerprints; they couldn’t even differentiate between human and animal blood – so if they found blood on the possessions/clothing of a suspect, they couldn’t prove it belonged to a victim. In Source C, Dr Blackwell measures the temperature of Elizabeth Stride – using his hands – as ‘quite warm’.
The time of death of victims was ascertained based on such inaccurate measurements, and one doctor’s estimate would often conflict with another’s, as well as with witness testimonials – which caused much confusion for the police, and was not their fault.This left the police with two more ways to convict the Ripper – catch him red-handed, or have the Ripper confess in person; both of them short of a miracle. Walking the streets, detecting crime, was the most experienced field of the police. The officer’s beats crisscrossed Whitechapel, in the hope of spotting the Ripper – one policeman walked passed Mitre Square, two minutes before Catherine Eddowes body was found there; and another found the body on his reverse beat – proving the high amount of activity and police presence in Whitechapel.
Unfortunately for the police, the way Whitechapel was constructed rendered their efforts to catch him red-handed ineffective. Whitechapel had many ‘narrow, dark, and crooked’ (Source E) alleyways, in which the Ripper could easily hide and avoid the policemen’s gaze. The streets themselves had little lighting, so officers could see nothing except what fell under the light of their lanterns. Thus, the failure of the police to detect the Ripper on one of their patrols was through no fault of there own.
I believe the heaviest blame for Jack the Ripper’s escape falls on the government – for allowing Whitechapel to reach and remain in such a poverty stricken state. The fact that there were so many prostitutes in the area is a testament to this. If the government had provided shelter, or even alternative employment, for vulnerable women, deaths like that of Polly Nichols, who needed money for a bed in a lodging house, could have been prevented.Most importantly, there would be a far fewer number of prostitutes on the streets, making it easier for them to be policed and kept track of – since the sheer number of prostitutes in Whitechapel severely limited the ability of the police to protect them, and predict who the Ripper might attack next.
To conclude, there is nothing which puts the police directly to blame; the main hindrances to their investigation were the state of the area of Whitechapel; which can be blamed on the government, poor scientific advancements, and the Ripper’s method of killing – neither of which were the fault of the police.
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