Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"Jack the Ripper" reflecting concerns of societal excess

The story of “Jack the Ripper” reflects Gilded Age concerns about societal excess because as “Jack the Ripper” causes order to fall apart because of his murderous actions, similarly, society in the Gilded Age felt that order was dissolving as excessive “new” ways of life evolved. The story explores the social worlds of London and the ideas expressed apply to the Gilded Age in America of which our class focuses. To explain, the Gilded Age in part dealt with concerns over technological changes which produced items quicker and less costly; people began to spend their limited resources in excess. Living beyond one’s means began in the Gilded Age era.
Uncertainty was felt by people living in the Gilded Age when “the new” changes occurring in their society were transforming their past ways. Some new technological changes that occurred in society were electricity in the home, the motion picture, telephone, and machines that could record sound. These technological items bred anxiety because they were very complex and to the average Gilded Age American, transcended intelligence. Before the existence of these items and others like them, most people understood the workings of the technology they used in their daily lives. As a result, people felt that these new technologies were “extras” and unnecessary because they had lived life without them in the past.
The story of “Jack the Ripper” in From Hell discusses a 4th Dimension where time remains on a constant continuum. For example, the murderer has a vision into the future where he sees a skyscraper. This is significant because it is an example of a change in the city skyline during the Gilded Age and it made people of that era feel small and insignificant in some ways. This industrial feat reflects societal excess because it was a demonstration of America’s power which was in many eyes, a good thing, but, some felt that it was a change of something “extra” that society did not really need…
The crimes that occurred in the story of “Jack the Ripper” mirrored the existence of crimes that took place in Gilded Age America. These crimes were due to societal excess on occasion. For example, murder may be a crime example that’s a bit extreme, nevertheless, people acted violently toward one another over jealousy due to social class standing. Working-class poor participated in uprisings against upper-class people of the Gilded Age because the poor viewed the numerous possessions of the wealthy as “excess.” The poor saw wealthier people living comfortable lives free of day-to-day concerns and became infuriated that they could not live similar lifestyles; they acted out in crimes against the privileged.
Jack the Ripper’s murder plot in some ways mirrors a foreign policy situation that occurred during the Gilded Age. American imperialism in the Philippines involved death and destruction as does the story of “Jack the Ripper.” Deaths among the natives and American soldiers occurred in this conflict. Some may view this imperialist action of America’s during the Gilded Age as an action of “excess” because it was not particularly necessary for America to acquire the Philippines; it was more a strategy for easier access, “taking the easy way out” so to speak.

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