Devil in the White City
In the book Devil in the White City, Erik Larson introduces us to Dr. Henry Howard Holmes, who was born named Herman Webster Mudgett. At first glance, Holmes appears to be a typical fresh, crisp, well-dressed, blue eyed and dark haired young man. Holmes first appears on the morning of August 1886 in Chicago’s train station with a ticket to Englewood, a village located in the town of Lake. Because he presents himself as a wealthy, charming man, he does not fit the typical description of a serial killer, and we do not suspect what really goes on behind closed doors. By using his charming personality along with his manipulative and witty characteristic, Holmes is able to target weak people and exert his power over them to avoid detection of his successful killings, piled debt and fraudulent behavior. Throughout Devil in the White City, Larson points to examples of how Holmes was manipulative, intelligent, and got most anyone he met to like him just by the way he presented himself. When he arrived to Englewood, Holmes first stop was the E. S. Holton Drugs pharmacy were he met an elderly women, Mrs. Holton, working by herself because her husband was up stairs dying of cancer. Holmes, having “sensed vulnerability, sensed it the way other men might capture the trace of a women’s perfume” (Larson 36), asked Mrs. Holton if she needed assistance in the pharmacy. She agreed to give Holmes a job working at the pharmacy. After Mr. Holton died, Holmes offered to buy the pharmacy from Mrs. Holton in order to ease her sorrow. After selling the pharmacy, Mrs. Holton disappears and Holmes tells everyone “she had decided to visit relatives in California,” as time passed Holmes changed the story a bit and said “Mrs. Holton, he explained, liked California so much she had decided to settle there permanently” (Larson 47). Holmes was so manipulative he made Mrs. Holton believe he was easing her burden of the Pharmacy by first working there for her, then...
Cited: Larson, Erik. Devil in the White City. New York: Crown Publishers, 2003.
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