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The East Versus The West: The Representation Of Jack The Ripper In Albert And Allen Hughes' From Hell

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The East Versus the West: The Representation of Jack the Ripper in Albert and Allen Hughes' From Hell

Often times a country decides to pass laws and rules in attempt to rectify its appearance. Sometimes the new laws work and other times they only create more chaos throughout the country. This chaos could have the potential to destroy everything that the country has worked towards. As a result, there is a creation of the fear of destruction among the people and the government. Although there are many methods to fix a problem, sometimes a country's perspective on the source of the problem could be misconstrued. In Albert and Alan Hughes' From Hell, Great Britain fears that Jack the Ripper and his murders will be the cause of its negative image. However the underlying fear lies within the continuous conflict between the East and the West. The West feels that the East will rise up and taint their image.

In the movie From Hell, several prostitutes are the victims of an unknown killer. Inspector Abberline tries to figure out who is responsible for the murders and falls in love with a prostitute in the process. At the end, the killer, later known as Jack the Ripper, murders the prostitutes in attempts to disassociate the royal family from the problems of the East End.

The obvious fear of Jack the Ripper is related to the fear of the West of the East. From Hell depicts Great Britain during the Victorian Era. During this time, there was a class split between the West and the East. The West included mainly the native Englishmen and Englishwomen. These were the aristocrats of England, who had the well paying jobs or were associated to Queen Victoria's royal family. On the other hand, the East end was occupied by immigrants, the lower class, and foreigners. They included all the "outsiders" from the viewpoint of the nobles.

Jack the Ripper represents various problems of the East. In 1888 there were problems such as prostitution, disease, poverty and overcrowding in the town White Chapel (Haggard 3). The opening scenes of the movie portray a disturbing vision of a night in the East End: someone drags a dead body, someone pees on the side of a building, couples are have sex in allies, a man throws up on the street, and drug addicts, drunks and prostitutes. This setting is established within the first four minutes of the film.

Obviously the East was in disarray. Since Jack's killings were in the East, then the West felt as though he was the East's problems and not theirs. From the view of the West, Jack is a byproduct of the problems that the East encompasses. When the lieutenant is talking to Inspector Abberline about the possibilities of the identity of Jack, he comments, "One thing for sure, an Englishman didn't do it." This comment suggests that the Lieutenant, whose opinion can be generalized to represent the views of most of the West, thinks that the killings by Jack the Ripper, has to be committed by one of the East's own. Since Jack the Ripper is thought to be from the East and the East is poor, unsanitary, and has a high crime rate then the West feels that Jack the Ripper is merely a manifestation of the East's problems.

The West feared the problems of the East, including, Jack the Ripper, because of their potential to cause destruction. In the conversation between the lieutenant and Abberline about the serial killer suspects, the lieutenant comments, "[The East End] Overrun with foreigners, Orientals, Jews, socialists trying to stir things up against our monarchy. That's who you should be pursuing don't you think?" Because of the strong racism in England, the lieutenant suggests that the "outsiders" or the people of the East are the people who are responsible for Jack the Ripper. The lieutenant feels as though Jack the Ripper or the problems of the East are ruining the things that the royal family has worked so hard to achieve. The fear that the West had can be observed by the lieutenant's choice of words. "Trying to stir things up against our monarchy," suggests an attitude of potential disaster for the monarchy.

Jack the Ripper was adding terror to the East by murdering the prostitutes, which made the people in the East bitter. Since the officials (who were from the West End) were unable to stop the murders, the people in the East End became upset. They assumed that the West was not doing everything that they possibly could be doing to stop "their people" from being slaughtered. A man yells after another body is found decapitated by Jack the Ripper, "Where was the coppers last night?" This displays the hostility between the two classes. The West sensed the build of resentment and was afraid that one day soon the East might decide to unleash their anger. Haggard possesses the same fear as shown, "Fear among many in the West [is] that the East End's revolutionary tendencies were beginning to bubble to the surface" (Haggard 6). The possibility of the East messing up the West's goals could be sensed by the West. The goals of the West can be defined as correcting all of the "negative" things in the country. The West had set a standard that they wanted the entire country of England to follow in order to maintain the decency of the country. Not only does the West realize this goal, but also the people of the East. "I'm an unfortunate not a whore. England doesn't have whores just a great mass of very unlucky women," says Mary Kelley, a prostitute, speaking to the inspector. When she says this, the viewer realizes that this is what she and other whores were supposed to refer to themselves as: unfortunates. This illustrates how the government, the royal family, tried to mold the country into a place that they desired. They were interested in what was perceived by others in other countries. They refused to see things for what they really were. Since the West desired dominance, anything that could harm or alter what they were trying to do for the appearance of the country, frighten them. This included the problems of the East and Jack the Ripper.

The West believes that the East created all of their



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