The Killer In The Dark City: Analysis Of The Devil In The White City

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Erik Larson in his book, The Devil in the White City, explains the process of building the Chicago World’s Fair and the serial killer H.H. Holmes. Erik Larson supports his explanation by making these two historical events presented like a novel with different narrative techniques. H.H. Holmes was a mass murder of females and all individuals for the sake of gaining authority and money for himself. Larson shows these emotions when Holmes is thinking of how to kill Anna and how exciting it is for him for Anna to die. He involves vivid imagery to demonstrate Holmes ‘ portrayal of what is happening to Anna, a bleak tone of significance to remember his ideas, and appeals to define the contrasting feelings of Holmes and Anna during the scene.

Erik Larson has different vivid descriptions of the trauma Holmes caused Anna, his third current wife at the time, in his book. “Holmes imagined Anna crumpled in a corner” (295), the whole time Anna Williams was in the vault sweating and unable to breath, Holmes sat outside the door in the “Harry’s breeze filled office” Imagine her pain creepily. Larson involves a good deal of vivid and descriptive imagery to make the anxious Anna and the murderer Holmes feel to his crowd. He defines the vault in which she was locked in as “without light”, “stale air”, and “growing substantially warmer” (294-295). Erik Larson wanted the readers to feel the growing panic of Anna when she realizes that Holmes has “accidentally” locked her and that there is no way he can hear her. Anna, not knowing that he is locked there on purpose, brings a rush to the readers to know what will happen next. There is also the shift the readers get from Holmes after he realizes she’ll die there and that she is really locked. Holmes was calm while he listened and “sat peacefully in a chair by the wall…”(294). The reason Larson included this image was to demonstrate Holmes ‘ peace and how the death of this young lady, who is also his wife, did not affect his emotions. Larson adds many techniques like his dark voice throughout Devil in the White City to demonstrate all Holmes’s ideas and actions that his characters do.

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Throughout Devil in the White City, Larson adds many methods like his dark tone to show all of Holmes thoughts and actions his characters make. When Holmes locks Anna in the secret vault, he starts to rethink his actions and whether or not he should let her out. Larson included some of Holmes thoughts like “Holmes imagined Anna crumpled in the corner” (295). The fact that Holmes was sitting there thinking if he should let her out like she’s a puppet he’s playing with, proves that Holmes was a sick man that wanted to enjoy some god-like powers. While she’s still locked in the vault, Holmes questions if he should “open the door for a few seconds and hold her” (295), just to throw her back in and make her feel more pain while also being betrayed. “flood the vault, right now, with gas”. Even his positive feelings and negative intentions. Larson inserts this deep and upsetting tone to really reflect and show the audience that Holmes didn’t have any mercy on the individuals around him and his family, and to demonstrate he did it mostly for the pleasure and strong feeling he had.

Lastly, Larson added appeals to show Anna’s terrified and panicky behavior and to show Holmes calm and relaxed presence during this scene. As Anna finally realizes she’s locked in the vault she starts to panic. Larson states, “Anna removed her show and beat the heel against the door” (295). What Anna is going through is very harsh and inhumane but Erik Larson helps us understand that by being very descriptive. During this scene, Holmes is going through lots of different emotions. He begins to be calm and comfortable, but begins to panic when his excitement and anxiety arise about how to cope with Anna’s murder. Larson says “The panic came, as it always did” stating that Holmes had these small panic attacks each time he was killing someone but felt a sense of relief after (295).

In the end, Larson explains many things to show how inhumane of a person Holmes really is. He demonstrates that he was a crazy assassin who did whatever it took to feel a feeling of power. It involves strong imagery to make readers feel like we’re in the space that Anna is in which is the vault, and he includes vivid imagery to make the readers feel like we are in the room and vault, suffocating like the poor woman. He uses dark tone to demonstrate the real horrific side of Holmes, and appeals to demonstrate how both the feelings of these two characters and how both characters influenced this incident.

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