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Why had Whitechapel become an ideal hunting crowd for a serial killer by 1888?

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Title: Why had Whitechapel become an ideal hunting crowd for a serial killer by 1888?


1
Why had Whitechapel become an ideal hunting crowd
for a serial killer by 1888?
  • www.educationforum.co.uk

2
A Man For His Times?
  • Jack the Ripper was, in a macabre way, a man for
    his times.
  • The turmoil of the Industrial Revolution in
    Britain upset the standard social order,
    generating new ambitions, conflicts, and
    frustrations.
  • Urbanization, crowding, and change led to anomie
    and the creation of the alienated loner.
  • Harsh and inhumane conditions, an indifference
    towards children, and a savage lifestyle all
    conspired to create an environment conducive to
    violence and sexual deviance.
  • It is not surprising the psychological and social
    infrastructures of the nineteenth century
    produced the first modern serial killer.

3
Industrialisation
  • The Industrial Revolution had been progressing
    for over 100 years and by 1888 some of its worst
    effects were being felt.
  • The Industrial Revolution created overcrowded,
    polluted urban centres rife with crime and social
    problems. Most believe Jack the Ripper was a
    local and if he was it had been brought up in a
    disordered, dangerous and dysfunctional
    community.
  • There had been no examples of serial killing in
    pre industrial Britain when social life was based
    on, on small, personalised, self supporting
    agricultural communities.
  • Psychologists have argued that serial killing is
    the living embodiment of modern industrial
    capitalist society, where, individualisation and
    personal satisfaction are everything.
  • Sociologists have suggested that another
    important factor was the decline of religion with
    industrialisation with its rituals, structure,
    conformity, and belief in an after- life and a
    redeeming Godhead. Society had lost its core
    values and had nothing to replace them with..

4
Housing
  • Many of the rookeries in Victorian London were
    demolished as a result of the Artisans Dwellings
    Act of 1875. This had been an attempt to get rid
    of the worst slum housing in much of Britain. But
    the slums of Whitechapel and Spitalfields
    survived and predictably endured an influx of
    criminals displaced by the city's urban renewal
    elsewhere.
  • The late 1800s saw almost a million people
    dwelling in the slums east of Aldgate Pump 4,000
    houses in Whitechapel alone one year were
    condemned as uninhabitable, though little was
    done about it for years .
  • Liquid sewage filled the cellars of houses and
    people kept their windows those not yet broken
    shut because of the stench from without. The
    majority of families, often up to nine people,
    lived in one room.
  • Whitechapel developed a reputation for being
    deeply immoral. Incest was common in these
    crowded conditions, even amongst children as
    young as 10. Prostitution was common and seen as
    a normal way of earning money.

5
Living Conditions
  • Many East End youth died before they were five.
    It would not be unusual for a mother to send her
    young children into the streets until after
    midnight, while she engaged in the business of
    prostitution to make sufficient money to feed
    them.
  • Often children fell off their seats at school
    from exhaustion or cried from the pain of chronic
    starvation. Yet these unfortunates at least had a
    home.
  • Many others slept on the streets or in dustbins,
    under stairways or bridges. Those who managed to
    scrape together enough money could rent a room in
    a lodging house, and such buildings held 8,500
    nightly in Whitechapel.
  • Within these doss houses flea-infested wallpaper
    hung in strips and stairway handrails were
    missing, long ago burnt for firewood.
  • If you could not afford a straw mattress, two
    pence bought you the privilege of a place along a
    rope to lean against and sleep
  • It is likely that such conditions were
    experienced by Jack the Ripper himself

6
Women in Whitechapel
  • Women's work included scrubbing, sweatshop
    tailoring, hop picking, and sack or matchbox
    making, all with a complete lack of safety
    standards. Seventeen hours of backbreaking labour
    paid 10 pence, less the cost of materials.
  • Prostitution was a viable alternative, paying
    anywhere from a loaf of stale bread to three
    pence. It was estimated that one woman in 16
    engaged in this trade, for a total of 1,200
    prostitutes in Whitechapel and 80,000 in London.
    Jack the Rippers attitude to women may in some
    way be explained by the roles women were forced
    by circumstances to undertake in 19th century
    Whitechapel
  • The close proximity of the London Docks also
    meant a steady stream of sailors willing to
    partake of the prostitutes of Whitechapel
  • The environment in the slums of London was such
    that Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw
    commented, after the second of the Ripper
    killings, that perhaps the murderer was a social
    reformer who wanted to draw attention to social
    conditions in the East End
  • The conditions of the poor had been made worse by
    the well meaning Factory Act of 1833 which had
    banned the employment of young children and
    restricted the hours teenagers could work poor
    families reliant on their children to contribute
    to a collective family wage were thereby made
    even more poor

7
Laissez faire
  • The attitude of the government towards the
    economy and social issues had been throughout the
    19th century been one of laissez faire or leave
    alone
  • This was based on the ideas of the classical
    liberal Adam Smith who suggested that market
    forces would look after everyone and that it
    would be wrong for the government to intervene
  • Consequently little was done to improve social
    conditions and there was no benefit system at
    all other than subjecting yourself to the
    workhouse set up by the Poor Law amendment Act of
    1839
  • The poor were desperate to avoid the prison like
    conditions of the workhouse and would do anything
    to remain outside of it

8
Geographical Factors
  • The murders were all within a mile of each other,
    and the total hunting area was just over half a
    square mile in size. In 1998 a geographic profile
    was produced for the Jack the Ripper case based
    on body dump sites. The peak area of the
    geoprofile focused on the locale around Flower
    and Dean Street and Thrawl Street.
  • Flower and Dean Street and Thrawl Street no
    longer exist as they used to, but in 1888 they
    lay between Commercial Street to the west and
    Brick Lane to the east, north of Whitechapel
    Road during the time of the Whitechapel murders
    they contained several doss houses. Dorset Street
    lay less than two blocks to the north along
    Commercial Street. This was the vice-ridden
    neighbourhood that East End social reformers
    referred to as the wicked quarter-mile
  • It appears that the notorious rookery played a
    key role in the Jack the Ripper mystery, and
    there is some supporting evidence for the
    geographic profile results.
  • The Ripper was undoubtedly helped by the layout
    of the streets, the cramped conditions, large
    number of dark back alleys and general background
    of immorality, prostitution, extreme poverty and
    lawlessness. The Police were known to be
    unwilling to enter this area unaccompanied.

9
Immigration
  • The proximity of the London docks meant that
    Whitechapel became the first port of call for
    many of Londons immigrants
  • The first immigrants in the 19th century were
    desperately poor Irish people escaping the potato
    famine of 1845
  • They were followed by considerable Jewish
    immigrations from Russia and Poland in the period
    1860-1900
  • The steady stream of Jewish immigration of the
    first half of the 19th century began to gather
    pace in the second half and by 1881 had become a
    veritable flood.
  • In Russia 1881 saw the assassination of Tsar
    Alexander, and this was followed by terrible
    pogroms in Kiev, Odessa and other cities. Mass
    immigration of Jews and other minorities
    persecuted in the Tsarist Empire began. This was
    fuelled over the next few years by increasing
    penal laws against Jews in Russia and reached a
    climax with the great pogrom of Kishinev in 1903.
  • Many of these immigrants were political
    refugees Marxists and anarchists
  • Ethnic tensions became particularly marked in the
    1880s when an economic recessions caused even
    greater unemployment and poverty in Whitechapel
  • Quickly locals began to blame the immigrants
    for the lack of jobs and shortage of housing. In
    such an atmosphere of distrust and suspicion is
    was easy for Jack the Ripper to avoid detection

10
Alcoholism
  • Each of Jack the Rippers 5 victims were
    alcoholics
  • Rates of alcoholism were high and very strong
    drink relatively cheap with pubs and gin houses
    on every corner
  • In a life denuded of any luxury or comfort a
    large proportion of the population of Whitechapel
    simply blotted out the awfulness of their lives
    by being perpetually drunk
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