Thursday, April 7, 2011

Aristocratic Misbehavior

In a History Today article, I found a story about the history of the Spring-Heeled Jack and other ‘ghosts’ that haunted the streets of London. However, these ghosts were not the average phantom. According to reports of the townsfolk during the 1800’s, these ghouls were “flesh and blood 'ghosts'”. They troubled citizens and made night time traveling dangerous and frightening. What is more, the ghosts appeared to be average men in traditional clothing. One of the ghosts was named Spring- Heeled Jack for his amazing jumping abilities. Early accounts included women being extremely frightened by being grabbed or spooked, while later tales mentioned a figure or ‘man’ breathing fire.

Many of these accounts filled the newspapers and warned the locals of what danger Spring-Heeled Jack and others could bring. Soon, it was rumored that these encounters were a gag and that the ghostly beings were just aristocrats fulfilling bets to terrorize the townspeople. In this way, Spring-Heeled Jack became known as the Victorian Boogeyman.

According to the article, the beliefs of aristocratic misbehavior may reflect “social tensions of the time”. During this time the citizens were not happy with the ruling class and distrusted their decisions.

This article was very interesting and gave a great background of Spring-Heeled Jack. I thought it was very intriguing that there were many other ghosts like him and that his presence was very real yet strongly questioned by the people of London.

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