Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Jack the Ripper and the Gilded Age

The story of Jack the Ripper reflects Gilded Age concerns about societal excess in many ways. In England during the 19th century, an influx of Irish Immigrants intensified the populations of England's major cities. From 1882, Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe moved into the same area and the city of Whitechapel in London's East End became increasingly overcrowded. Work and housing conditions worsened, and a significant economic underclass developed. An increase in robbery, violence, and alcohol dependency was common, and the endemic poverty drove many women to prostitution. This is where Jack the Ripper comes into play. Jack the Ripper believed that women prostitutes should be punished, so he killed them all. Jack the Ripper’s attacks typically involved female prostitutes from the slums whose throats were cut prior to abdominal mutilations. Thus, mainly because of the brutality of the murders, and because of the media’s involvement, the public knew the killer as "Jack the Ripper".

With the exception of Jack the Ripper and his actions, the same lifestyle in England was occurring in America. During the Gilded Age, America’s industry was booming and new job opportunities were available. Along with this newly industrialized society, population grew. Immigrants from all over Europe came to America for jobs and new opportunities. Thus, over crowdedness in the industrialized cities became a problem and robbery, violence, and alcohol dependency increased. Due to this increase, poverty drove many women to prostitution and society in America began to mimic English society.

In conclusion, American society was very similar to European society during the Gilded Age. Industry, population, crime, and violence grew at an enormous rate. With this, life for future generations would never be the same.

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