Devil in the White City

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Through the Eyes of a Murderer

H.H Holmes is considered the first serial killer in American history, although at the time not much is known about the mental capabilities to kill incessantly such as Holmes did. In Eric Larson’s The Devil in the White City, the author utilizes a view from Holmes' prospective to illustrate how Holmes' could have thought and felt when he murdered his victims to give his own personal diagnosis to help the reader further understand Holmes' madness. Larson’s first description of Holmes' murderous character was when Holmes performed a “simple abortion” on Julia, as he leads in with Holmes thought process. Larson sets up the mood by taking a perspective through Holmes' eyes, when he writes “His surgical kits stood open and gleaming, his instruments laid out in a sunflower of polished steel” (148). This statement is vital in depicting just how deranged Holmes must have been. As he states, they were “gleaming” and “laid out in a sunflower of polished steel”, Larson implies that Holmes saw his weapons as if they were flowers in a garden. Somehow Julia views the instruments in a different light; the author states she "could not help but see them and be sickened by their hard, eager gleam”(148). This is clearly quite the opposite of Holmes; Holmes sees beauty while Julia sees them in their true light. Julia is clearly terrified by them, where Holmes is almost in awe by their presence. Larson is able to contrast the views to present the extreme differences between that of a sane person, Julia, and that of an insane man, Holmes. After setting the stage of the mindset that Holmes must have had before the murder of Julia, Larson then progresses into how Holmes must have felt during the actual murder. As the murder commences, Larson introduces how actions throughout the murder seem to inspire Holmes; Larson writes, “He poured the chloroform into a bunched cloth. She gripped his hand more tightly, which he found singularly arousing” (148)....
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