Laborious Letters of Jack the Ripper

Check out more papers on Jack The Ripper

Infamous slasher of the Whitechapel district In London's East End, Jack the Ripper mutilated five female prostitutes in 1888 and left next to no evidence of his identity. His reign of bloodshed started on the chilling evening of August 7th where four other victims followed until September 10, 1888. Jack the Ripper is London's most notorious killer, along with one of the most famous unsolved mysteries to date. Since the killings of five female prostitutes were mutilated and reportedly disemboweled, authorities, detectives, and forensics suggest that Jack the Ripper had a clear knowledge of human anatomy and had exceptional skills with a knife. This can reveal that he was a doctor by day and a surgeon by night. Even just as possible is that Jack the Ripper might have been a meat butcher. Nevertheless, although he was never caught or captured of these heinous killings, potential witnesses around the vicinity saw a running man where the killings materialized. Descriptions of Jack the Ripper were mentioned to be frightfully average looking and easy to blend in with a crowd. Many suggest that the culprit involved wore a tall black hat, an astrakhan jacket, and had a dark mustache. Despite the known aesthetics of the brutal killer, countless investigations went on. To this day, more evidence has been found as forensics evolved and more was learned of the killings. However, as time went on, it seemed with more knowledge of the crime, less was understood. The only thing to gain from this unsolved mystery is the moniker Jack the Ripper and a trail of letters that led to more questions rather than answers.        

In the 1988 novel Libra by Don Delillo, his book follows the life of Lee Harvey Oswald in a historical fiction lens. The significance of the story is centered around a speculative narrative of the convoluted and the unforeseen assassination of President Kennedy. An interesting point to mention about Delillo's narrative is that the book is considered to be a historical fiction that revolves around real characters. In the last page of Libra, Delillo writes, This is a work of imagination. While drawing from the historical record, I've made no attempt to furnish factual answers to any questions raised by the assassination. Any novel about a major unresolved event would aspire to fill some of the blank spaces in the known record. To do this, I've altered and embellished reality, extended real people into imagined space and time, invented incidents, dialogues, and characters, (458). To correlate the Dellilo's fictional novel with the Jack the Ripper case, Delillo's use of narrative is implied to use real people and events to create a fictional story. Since over seven hundred letters were written to the London Metropolitan Police Service, the letters were evident that the killer knew he was at large and only wanted to convey anarchy rather than reason. Moreover, various theorists and Ripperologists report that most of the letters were written as fan fair.       

The first letter in the unsolved Jack the Ripper case may be the most important out of the three that was titled Dear Boss. The letter was reported by the Central News Agency of London on September 27, 1888, nineteen days after the first murder. Essentially, the letter's text conveyed responsibility of the first murder on September 8, 2018, and later mentioned that there will be more murders that will soon follow. The note even conveyed that ripped off ears would be sent to the police, which can be implied that the killer is posing a mockery of the situation as if he is saying, You won't hear me coming. According to Andrea Nini, a researcher and scholar of the Digital Scholarship in the Humanities writes, Because of this fact and its style and content, the letter was considered to be genuine and it became famous for introducing the persona of Jack the Ripper and for providing a name that the press could use to refer to the killer (Nini, Volume 33, Issue 3). As Nini suggests, this can be the recorded testimony of Jack the Ripper's confirmation of his crimes. Many also perceived this letter as a thwart to draw the investigation off course. Nevertheless, only two days later after this letter was sent to the Central News Agency of London, the public was now aware of the gruesome killer.        

The first letter was signed as Jack the Ripper to most likely possess a name, but also to possess credit for the actions of the murder. According to a researcher named Judith Walkowitz, she informs that the crimes committed were only done within the public, but also in reflection to various forms of literature such as Poe and Stevenson novels (Walkowitz, 550). This implies that the killer was not trying to hide the bodies but to cause a public outcry on that matter for pure enjoyment or chaos. Walkowitz informs, Another compelling aspect of the Whitechapel murders was their mystery, the secrecy, and impunity with which the murders were committed in public spaces, and the mystery' as to motives, clues, and methods.' Unable to find historical precedents for the Whitechapel horrors,' commentators resorted to horrifying fictional analogs  (Walkowitz, 550). As Walkotiz reports, the killings of five prostitutes were relatively close to each other which indicated that the killer may have somewhere close by. She also points out that the scenic areas of the deaths were similar to fictional literature. This highlights a key theory of Jack the Ripper being an educated citizen since literature in the Victorian era was hard to obtain because of the price tags, but also because of the illiteracy in the general public. Highlighting the public outcry of this first letter led to fictional testimonies as investigators searched for the killer.         This second notable letter was actually a postcard titled Saucy Jack that was received on October 1st, 1888.

Again, this postcard was signed by the moniker Jack the Ripper to add responsibility for the previous and future murders to come. The postcard not only confirmed the responsibility of killing two additional prostitutes on September 30th, 1888, but it also was an apology letter written to the police. This apology was in regards to not sending the police station ripped off ears as previously stated within the first letter. With the Dear Boss and Saucy Jack letter in the hands of investigators, this letter was taken seriously compared to the previous one. This is because of the prompt timing of the two additional prostitutes that were mutilated. One popular reason for why this postcard was taken seriously is because in 1888 London, drastic crime rates were at an all-time high. Crimes and killings, for the most part, was common in the public. Prostitution was also drastically common in the norms of Europe, but the ways the killings occurred and how they were horrifically executed made the awareness of the Victorian era scared and also curious. Since curiosity was a prominent factor in the case, fictional letters and testimonies within the public made more mysteries around the killer's motive and identity.        

Finally, this third letter sent from the notorious ripper was titled From Hell and was, without a doubt, the most gruesome and sinister out of any of the letters sent to the Central News Agency of London. One of the reasons why this letter was considered to be the most gruesome is because of how the letter was companied in a small box, with another one of Jack the Ripper's tricks. Upon opening the small packaged box, brown packaged paper surrounded the outside. Additionally, a bizarre aroma came from the box. Inside of the box possessed another letter, but also a ripped out human kidney. This is why the letter is significant: the kidney inside of the box was actually from one of the mutilated prostitutes (Nini, Volume 33, Issue 3). The kidney was also reported to be missing part of its flesh, indicating a part of it was consumed. Now, the context of the From Hell letter addressed was one of the kidneys from one of the prostitutes, but it was also confirmed by doctors and forensics of the legitimacy of the letter's claim. Reflecting these letters and the presumed fictional narrative they imply exemplifies how written forms can either lead or mislead to a discovery or create another mystery altogether. The From Hell letter, however, can be believed that this can be the one and true letter that Jack the Ripper sent.         Correlating how London perceived the Jack the Ripper case, many citizens involved themselves in the mystery by writing fictional letters to the media and police.

Basically, the Jack the Ripper case was a convenient cash grab for the general public as police and investigators questioned citizens about if they witnessed anything about the identity of the killer and if they had any other information that was integral to the case. According to Jose Liste Noya, a researcher, and writer of Naming the Secret: Don Delillo's Libra' suggests that the use of facts through fiction may possess interference from discovering additional information. Noya writes,  the self-evident denial of the possibility of factual answers' coming forth from a work of fiction may offer refuge in another sense from the threat of the secret (Noya, 240). As Noya points out in the general concept of Libra, the use of fiction for non-fictional matters can still have an impact on an unresolved event. Thusly, if a witness had any evidence or at least some form of story to relate Jack the Ripper, the witnesses were paid. Obviously, many theorists and Ripperologist deem this tactic as constructed fanfare, but it also created more confusion when it seemed like there was enough evidence to start somewhere at naming the killer. In terms of fiction impacting a mystery, it can provide a prominent lens while investigating all angles of a crime.        

Two key factors about the From Hell letter was that it had a more unique sense of writing style and with the inclusion of unlettered writing. However, considering that the box contained a kidney from one of the prostitutes involved, it was never signed by Jack the Ripper, but it may be vivid that it was because the kidney sent was from one of the recent victims. Nevertheless, many theorists and Ripperologists agree that this was the most plausible letter out of the countless others sent by the killer himself. Even though the speculation of the killer being a man of literary value and had an extensive educational background, the kidney from the mutilated prostitute inside of the box was too abnormal to think it was anyone else within the general public as well as anyone trying to stir a hoax. With a hand full of letters, however, it was deemed that the ripper himself wrote the letters previously mentioned. Something worth noting is that more than seven hundred letters were distributed out to the media. Straying away from trying to validate every single letter written (or allegedly written) by Jack the Ripper, the earliest letters previously mentioned held enough evidence to confirm that they were written by a psychopath. However, to this day, the letters are either favored or debunked, thusly adding more to the mystery at determining fact from fiction.        

The letters mounted on these crimes seemed to create substantial evidence to not identify the killer, but to provide many questions about what is real and what is fake. According to Joe Nickell, a scholar, and writer of Adventures in Paranormal Investigations, he refers to the earliest letter Dear Boss as being an exaggeration to the case that the media was responsible for. Nickell writes, The earliest one, which was only recently rediscovered, was received on September 17. Most Ripperologists' today accept the mounting evidence that these were the work of one or more journalists. Nevertheless, the sobriquet  Jack the Ripper' stuck (Nickell, 132). From what Nickell informs, the Dear Boss letter that was spread to the media worked in a way to thwart or cause fear of the investigation. What is prominent about the letters in the Jack the Ripper case is that nobody knew what to believe. The use of these real or fictional letters created controversy chained with questions that led to no answers, but only assumptions. Citizens in Europe, however, were keen on understanding and reading Jack the Ripper. Needless to say, it was around the late 1800s where the Victorian era was first introduced to Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. Even members of the media were accused of creating fake letters or tampering with the original letters written by the killer himself to create chaos because the case brought in a substantial amount of money for the media.

 Considering the differences between the Dear Boss and From Hell letter, many believe two different people wrote them because of how different the literacy was. One person may have possibly been a fan of detective fiction since Sherlock Holmes was a massive phenomenon, while the other could have been the killer himself. People in Europe, especially London, were engulfed in the unsolved case of Jack the Ripper which would inspire personal investigations as well as many hoax letters sent to those investigating the mystery. The questions and theories surrounding the legitimacy of the letters were because of the literacy of the letters. Moreover, the mystery is also in parallel to trying to discover which Jack the Ripper letter is real and which one is fake. As mentioned earlier, there were over 700 hundred letters sent to the press and police force. Most of these letters were not taken seriously, but these first three letters are the most prominent of the bunch. Nonetheless, the letters being a form of a fictional exploit shows how an event and death can be handwritten by the killer or by anyone wanting to create a mystery.        

By providing a sense of fiction to a real case has its pros and cons. In this case, it became a phenomenon that a serial killer with a unique way at slashing his victims managed to disappear into the night, only to leave nothing more than a moniker along with the community involving themselves in an investigation. But just like many chilling mysteries, the Jack the Ripper case was never solved and may never be solved. He murdered, mutilated and disappeared into the night untraceable, leading little to no evidence to identify a face or a name. Considering the countless letters that were sent to the Central News Agency of London, it is hard to point out which letter was actually sent by the killer. Although evidence rediscovered and new evidence was brought forth to potentially finalize this case, too many questions were still raised leaving more confusion and no clarity. To this day, various forms creative fiction (and non-fiction) of the Jack the Ripper case such as Alan More's From Hell graphic novel and Naming Jack the Ripper by Russell Edwards along with countless others. Nevertheless, this case may always be another unsolved mystery left to be told and conspired from the public, fictional, and non-fiction work. Whoever Jack the Ripper was, he may be considered to be the world's most dangerous and mysterious serial killer in history.

Did you like this example?

Cite this page

Laborious Letters of Jack the Ripper. (2019, Nov 15). Retrieved March 3, 2024 , from

Save time with Studydriver!

Get in touch with our top writers for a non-plagiarized essays written to satisfy your needs

Get custom essay

Stuck on ideas? Struggling with a concept?

A professional writer will make a clear, mistake-free paper for you!

Get help with your assignment
Leave your email and we will send a sample to you.
Stop wasting your time searching for samples!
You can find a skilled professional who can write any paper for you.
Get unique paper

I'm Chatbot Amy :)

I can help you save hours on your homework. Let's start by finding a writer.

Find Writer