Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Societal Excess of Jack the Ripper

This particular story of Jack the Ripper is a commentary on social stratification in London during the 1890s. The difference between the upper class and lower class in this story is extremely magnified; the story begins with a member of the royal family fraternizing with a member of the lower class and the consequences of that relationship. This story reflects the Gilded Age concern about societal excess by having the main character not only killing women belonging to the lower class, but being a Mason as well. The victims of Jack the Ripper were all women of the lower class. These murders were not consider a huge scandal by the middle and upper classes because it was widely believed that the smaller amount of the poor the better. That there should be less of the lower class in society because of harsh stereotypes that they are slow, dirty people and it would also allow more wealth for the middle and upper classes. People who work should enjoy most of the benefits, not the freeloaders who receive aid from the government. Societal excess is also intertwined with Doctor Gull’s journey in the story. The more killings he does, the more metaphysical be becomes. Doctor Gull goes deep into Mason teachings and come to the conclusion that all that matters is the higher power, that as we become more materialistic and more concerned about expanding society we will lose sight of why we were put on earth. We see this during the scene where Dr. Gull has the vision of the future where he tries to pull the office workers away from their technology warning them of what is to come because of it.

With the Gilded Age came department stores, credit, and more income, which created a new global need for more things and a new paradigm that those who work now deserve most of the nations wealth, not those who live under the poverty lines. What From Hell successfully did was show the struggles of the lower class women who had to sell their bodies multiple times a day and resort to blackmail to be able to eat that night. These women are humanized and become a reminder that no group of a society should be considered “excess” and should get rid of, but the stratification between the classes is the excess and should be taken care off.

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