Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Fall to Immorality Depicted in From Hell Reflecting a Trend in the Concerns of the Guilded Age

In the graphic novel "From Hell" the author touches on many of the key concerns during the Guilded Age about societal excesses such as corruption and rising crime rates in cities, obvious class differences, and a change in women's role in society. The loose moral behavior emblematic of the 1890's is clearly reflected as a theme in this graphic novel depicting the story of Jack the Ripper.

Jack the Ripper himself is the embodiment of the people's concerns of crime and uncertainty for the future. The fact that a man would kill, without seeming method or meaning terrified people because of the looming uncertainty and threat. Also, the story of Jack the Ripper fostered the fear that cities were becoming the sources of corruption and immorality. Immorality, above everything, shone through as the message of what the society had come to accept in Guilded Age. This story emphasizes also the now commonly accepted idea that cities were places where crime was set– a chicken or the egg scenario– did cities create the criminals or do criminals prefer city settings.

This story also touches largely on the distinctive class differences– and the immorality set within the chasm between the upper and lower lasses. The vast wealth difference– as illustrated in "From Hell" – lead to a seemingly justifiable reasoning to see people as less or more valuable individually. This ability for the upper class to see themselves as a cut above the rest allows for crime and corruption to carry-on without much correction or even a need to solve the problems because the upper class, with the ability to create change, was unaffected by the problems of the poor. This is a concern of societal excesses seen in the Guilded Age because of the unequal distribution of wealth, morality was done away with. the rich felt less towards their fellow human beings, and the poor did away with morals inorder to survive. The graphic novel also shows an increased reliance of the poor on alcohol and sex, whereas the rich depended more on money and stability.

The last main evidence of "From Hell" reflecting the concerns of the Guilded Age, was the evolving role of women in society. Women had– in the lower classes– become more morally flexible in order to support themselves and their families. Also the slight fear that women would be gaining more power socially was emphasized– fueled by the new clamoring for rights in the Guilded Age. With women having to abandon in some ways the domestic role to fend for themselves in the city, men were becoming alarmed to these changes in perception. In this graphic novel, women were portrayed as independent and to a limited degree in charge of their independent lives. Before the Guilded Age women were supposed to be the morally superior influence on future generations. This role was completely abandoned in the story about Jack the Ripper.

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