Sunday, February 20, 2011

Essay on Jack the Ripper

Student Essay on Jack the Ripper

Source D is the eye-witness evidence of Elizabeth Long, recorded at the inquest into the death of Annie Chapman. It is Long’s description of the man seen talking to Chapman before she died. I feel that this source is very useful because it demonstrates how the ‘Ripper’ might have avoided capture. The accuracy of Long’s statement, regarding the description of the man seen talking to Chapman, is questionable. The man, who may or may not have been the ‘Ripper,’ is poorly described. However, this evidence is still useful in assisting the police, because even a general description enables them to eliminate certain individuals from their enquiries, so that they can concentrate on others.



Elizabeth Long appears definite in her first statement regarding both the complexion of the suspect and the hat he was wearing. The clarity of her next statement is questionable however, because she appears to doubt herself. She states ‘I think’ and ‘I cannot be sure’ when referring to the suspects coat. Elizabeth displays a lack of confidence in her ability to correctly age the suspect by stating ‘he was a man over forty as far as I could tell.’ This implies that Elizabeth believes her ability to asses accurately was limited. Elizabeth is unsure about the height of the suspect when she states, ‘He seemed to be a little taller than the deceased.’ This statement appears weak because it suggests that the suspect might not have been taller than the deceased. When Elizabeth describes the nationality of the suspect she tells us ‘He looked to me like a foreigner, as well as I could make out.’ This statement infers that Elizabeth could not clearly see the suspect, and therefore could not give a precise and accurate description.

To conclude, Source D is very useful in assisting my understanding of how the ‘Ripper’ might have avoided capture. Firstly, the man described in Long’s evidence might not have been the ‘Ripper,’ or a threat to Chapman, and this therefore questions the value of the source. If the suspect was the ‘Ripper,’ the description is poor, and Long appears unsure and confused over certain aspects. This level of confusion would assist in hindering any inquiries by the police, and would possibly allow a greater freedom of movement for the suspect. It is also evident that despite Elizabeth Longs vagueness, the police must have thought that she was a useful eyewitness, because they included her in the inquest which investigated the death of Annie Chapman.

Source E is part of an article published in a local newspaper after the murders of Polly Nicholls and Annie Chapman. I feel that the source is very useful in demonstrating how the ‘Ripper’ might have avoided capture. The source describes the experience of a man who visited the police ‘demanding’ increased policing in Whitechapel. According to the source, ‘the informant,’ visited the police before the first murder had been committed, warning that ‘murder would ensue,’ if levels of policing were not increased. This suggests that levels of policing in the area were poor. The informant was apparently ‘referred from one police office to another, but without making any impression.’ This information implies that communication within the police was poor, and procedures inadequate. The source portrays Whitechapel as an area with high levels of criminality and poor levels of policing, the effects of which worsened at night. Whitechapel is also described as being ‘a network of narrow dark and crooked lanes,’ which implies that a criminal could easily avoid detection or capture, by using these inter-linked and poorly lit lanes. Additionally, policing an area like Whitechapel would require large numbers of policemen so that communication between officers was successful. If policemen relied on whistles to alert their colleagues, ‘the sights and sounds,’ of Whitechapel would hinder their actions because Whitechapel was clearly a noisy and chaotic place. In addition, the raised levels of criminal activity in the area implies that the people of Whitechapel, in avoiding arrest themselves, might hinder police activity and inadvertently assist the Ripper in avoiding capture.

To conclude, source E is very useful in assisting my understanding of how the ‘Ripper’ might have avoided capture because it portrays the complex lay-out of the area and the chaotic nature of Whitechapel life. These factors combined with few policemen in the area would certainly have assisted the ‘Ripper’ in avoiding capture. However, it should be recognized that the ‘informant’ in the source is anonymous and the information contained regarding the police response to him cannot be verified. The journalist writing the article may have fabricated the story in order to sell more newspapers. If the informant did exist it is possible that he was a regular visitor to the police and this is why they took no notice of him. Finally, the lack of policing in Whitechapel may have been because the people living there were poor and unimportant to the police, this too would have assisted the Ripper in avoiding capture.

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