Jack the Ripper Coursework Assignment Essay

Q1. What can you learn from Source A about the murder of Martha Tabram and Polly Nicholls? You can learn from Source A the basic information about the two murders. It is part of a newspaper article called the East End Observer which describes the murder of Martha Tabram and Polly Nicholls. Although the article doesn’t tell us their identity it just states “The two murders” with not much more detail except that the victims both had one thing in common that they were “the poorest of the poor”. But we know that they had other things in common as well such as they were prostitutes.

At the beginning it tells us that the murders “startled London” meaning that the murders took place in the East End of London because the source was published in the East End observer, but also if it startled London then the murders must have been quite extraordinary because murders were not very rare but as there were two murders then this could lead people to believe that they were linked in someway, although the article doesn’t say anything about that but if you read between the lines you get the idea that someone extraordinary has happened meaning they are linked somehow.

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The source also tells us that “no adequate motive the shape of plunder can be traced”. We can learn from this statement that the victims weren’t robbed so the Police cannot suggest a motive just yet so the murderer must have had another motive that is currently unknown. The article tells us that there was an “excess of effort” meaning that there was some form of cruel behavior imposed upon the victims but the source does not tell us what kind of brutality they received.

The writer describes the crimes as the work of a “demented being” and that is they used “extraordinary violence”. But they do not tell us what kind of violence was used therefore we are still moderately restricted on our knowledge of the sources by just using this source. This source is quite limited to an extent that they do not tell us the finer points about the murders such as the name, age, gender, profession etc. about the victims, the place in which they were found, who found them or what violence was inflicted upon them.

This is possibly because journalists probably don’t know much about the victims, they job is to just sell papers and get the public interested. Also as it was the beginning of the murders the writer just gave us basic information that had been released to the public. Q2. Does the evidence of Source C support the evidence of Sources A and B about the ripper murders? Explain your answer. The evidence in Source C doesn’t really support the evidence that is in Source A and B however it doesn’t contradict it either.

All sources do have some similarities, they all tell us that the killer used violence towards the victims, Sources A and B both make assumptions about the killer such as when Source A refers to the killer as a “demented being”, Sources A and C both tell us that the victims were poor, Sources B and C are both written for the Police so not for the public to read and Source B and C both imply that the murder weapon was a knife, Source B states that the murderer knew “how he should use a knife” and Source C says a “long incision” in the neck “cutting the windpipe completely in two”.

However the three sources are all very different. The nature of Source A is different to B and C because it is a newspaper article whilst Sources B and C are official reports written by people whose job is to help the Police with murder investigations. Source A was written by someone who doesn’t have much medical knowledge, and they have written it for the public and to draw them into the story so they sell more newspapers.

Although Source B and C are both reports they are different because Source B is written by a coroner whose job is to make assumptions about the murderer to help with the investigation however Source C was written by a doctor who makes no theories about the murderer, he just gives all the facts and makes no speculations. But they were both written for the Police and not for the public to see. Also all three sources are about a different victim, Source A is about the murders of Martha Tabram and Polly Nicholls, Source B is written about the death of Annie Chapman and Source C describes the body of Elizabeth Stride.

Source B assumes the killer is male as the writer refers to the killer several times as “he”, but Source C never even mentions the murderer. Source B also insinuates that murderer could not be a butcher because it says “No mere slaughterer of animals”, also that the murderer must have had “anatomical skill and knowledge” making people like doctors suspects, also they coroner states that there are “no meaningless cuts” therefore contemplating the killer had some sort of motive to cut what he had.

There are many speculations in Source B however there are none in Source C, showing the major difference between the sources, because Source A also is judgmental about the murderer and also assumes things about the murders. Although the differences are great between the sources they do not contradict either, so source C does support some of the evidence in Sources A and B such as the use of violence towards the victims and the murder weapon.

Q3. How useful are Sources D and E in helping you to understand why the Ripper was able to avoid capture? Source D and E are both very useful in helping is to understand why the Ripper was able to avoid capture. Source D is the evidence of an eye witness Elizabeth Long for the inquest into the death of Annie Chapman. It is a statement where she describes the man she has seen talking to Annie before she was killed.

This source is very vague and unclear, she says that the man was “dark complexioned” but it would be hard to distinguish that because it was currently nighttime so it would be dark. She also says “I think he was wearing a dark coat but I cannot be sure”, which indicates that none of the information that she can give will be accurate because she couldn’t be sure. In the source Elizabeth Long uses a lot of phrases like “… s far as I could tell”, “He seemed to be… “, “… as well as I could make out” and “what I should call… ” This tells us that her account on what she saw is unreliable and details she gives about him are vague such as “wearing a deerstalker hat”, “a man over forty”, “a little taller than the deceased”, ” a foreigner” and “shabby genteel”. This doesn’t really narrow it down because this could many people and also contradicts what other people say.


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