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Jack the Ripper

INTERMEDIATE Vydáno dne 22.01.2008

Kdo byl Jack Rozparovač?



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Jack the Ripper

Jack the Ripper


Everyone knows about the infamous South London prostitute killer during the Victorian era - Jack the Ripper. His true identity still remains a mystery (even though there were a good few candidates) which makes this character a subject of great interest.

In the autumn of 1888 someone murdered and mutilated some prostitutes in the Whitechapel area of London; the press went mad, politicians tried to blame each other, and a number of people started saying that they were the brutal killer.

The murderer had many different names at the time of the killings, but the only one that stuck was Jack the Ripper.

More than a century has passed since the events, and still nobody knows who the real Jack is (there is no leading suspect), and the case is still a subject of debate. People have never stopped looking for Jack. There is a new line of evidence and new suspects being found every year. Letters, diaries, photographs and reports have been found over the years - but how true are they? Everything about Jack is open to debate, even the evidence that has been found. This is why this killer is so captivating and interesting - because he is still a complete mystery, nothing in his case is conclusive.

It is believed that Jack the Ripper killed five women, all London prostitutes, during 1888:

-Mary Ann 'Polly' Nichols on August 31,
-Annie Chapman on September 8,
-Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes on September 30 (Yes, two in one night. Hard working man. Or woman?! We just don't know.)

and finally

-Mary Jane (Marie Jeanette) Kelly on November 9.

In reality there is no agreed list. It is just as uncertain as everything else about Jack:

-The most popular change is to not count Stride and/or Kelly,
-Sometimes a woman named Martha Tabram, killed August 7th, is added to the list. What we do know (or do we?) is that there could not have been more than eight women.

The Ripper strangled his victims, put them down on the ground and then slit the arteries in their throats; finally, he cut into the bodies and removed certain organs, which he kept for himself. People have thought that Jack was a doctor or a surgeon, because he carried out this process at great speed and often in the dark, which means he must have had a knowledge of anatomy. And yet again, there is no concrete evidence to support this.

During the autumn and winter of 1888/89 a number of letters circulated among the police and newspapers, all signed by the Whitechapel murderer; these include the 'From Hell' (this is where the title of the 2001 film starring Johnny Depp came from) letter and there was also a letter which included a part of a kidney. Ripperologists (yes, Ripperology is now like a science) say that most, or maybe all of the correspondence is fake, but still, they had a big effect on people at the time. One of the letters was signed by 'Jack the Ripper', and soon this name became the only one that was used (the press liked it the most).

There was gossip and fear in the streets, suspicions about people of high rank, offers of rewards. Political reformers used the Ripper in arguments and policemen found it difficult to deal with the situation because the techniques they used were quite primitive.

The press is mainly responsible for making the Ripper case so big. The majority of Londoners knew how to read by that time. The press did their best to portray the evil figure of Jack in the darkest of colours and the Londoners were gripped. The Whitechapel Murderer, whom they initially christened 'Leather Apron' became the center figure of legends. You can say that Jack is somewhat of a manufactured character.

A century later, Jack the Ripper is still extremely famous across the planet, an unknown criminal at the centre of a global manhunt. But he is much more than that - he has had a spectacular influence on the popular culture. He's the focus of novels, films, musicals and even a six inch high model plastic figure (even though we don't know what he looks like...). Jack the Ripper was the first serial killer adopted and highly publicised by the modern media age and he's never left the scene, acting as an example of the modern western culture.

It's very unlikely anyone will be able to use the existing evidence to prove who Jack the Ripper was and, while people are STILL finding new material, the chances of finding something genuine that cannot be argued with are very low. The appeal of this case is that everyone can play detective, do their own research and draw their own conclusions - because you've got the same chances of being right as everyone else!



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Text: Katherine McCurrie, Illustration: Patrik Turoň. Copyright © Help for English

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