Gloriana's Crime Blog

Strang and Swearingen

I feel like almost every crime show has an episode like Jesse Strang’s. A guy falls in love with a girl who makes him kill her husband or boyfriend for money or whatever other reason and most of the time she didn’t love him in the first place. Its unclear to me if Elsie Whipple loved Strang or not but on page 212, he is told that “Mrs. Whipple herself had furnished sufficient proof of his guilt for conviction, and that his case was hopeless.” This leads me to believe that she had no affections for Strang and was just using him. Mrs. Whipple was acquitted even though she may have been the one who came up with the plan to kill her husband in the first place.

It was also strange to me how much the person who wrote down George Swearingen’s story insulted Rachel Cunningham so much. None of the other things we have read put someone in such a bad light especially considering she wasn’t the one who committed the murder.

Some examples: “She was an ignorant, vulgar prostitute of the lowest grade, with no other attraction than a very moderate share of personal beauty” pg 44; “…Cunningham had no more pretension to beauty than the female orangutan lately brought over. Indeed the ape is insulted by the comparison” pg 48; “…and hurt his ignoble mistress” pg 45; “His intercourse with this abominable woman…” pg 47; and “we shall give her answer to his first letter, as it was written, to a comma, to correct the impression that she was well educated and accomplished” pg 62. The letter mentioned in the previous quote is then called “elegant” but I have a feeling that it was called that sarcastically or it was just not meant that way at all.

I don’t know if the author of Swearingen’s story has something against Cunningham personally or if he just disliked all prostitutes but its definitely something to look at considering she did less wrong that Mrs. Whipple did but is treated a whole lot worse.

I thought it was funny how Alexander White believes that he “was harmless to anybody but [himself]” but in the very same page he kills somebody.

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    6 comments already | Leave your own comment

  1. 9/17/2013 | 1:17 pm Permalink

    I want to appluad your close readings in this post. Pulling out the quotes, and basing your argument in the text is the basis of a close reading and a solid argument. The next step is abstracting out from the particular. Why do you think the writer was so brutla towards women at this moment? Is there any historical, social, or cultural element this might be linked to? That, in essence, is the beginning of a larger, richer study for research. And you are one your way….

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  2. 9/17/2013 | 7:10 pm Permalink

    I also agree with you about how the author wrote down so much bad stuff about Rachel, and I think it’s because the author was only in the perspective of George’s testimony. He only was recording what George was saying about Rachel, which was a lot of bad things.

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  3. 9/17/2013 | 8:58 pm Permalink

    I just want to say that I think a reason why men will commit a crime for a woman even though she is just using him is because he doesnt realize it. Men typically when it comes to women will not think with their heads about anything and just go along with her. As we see here, the male will reap the punishment for listening to the woman.

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  4. 9/17/2013 | 9:41 pm Permalink

    I was thinking the same thing about Strang. I feel like this happens all the time in books, movies, and in life. The guy falls for the girl and she is just using him to get what she wants. When will people learn?

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  5. 9/18/2013 | 4:25 am Permalink

    I loved how you really focused on the harsh treatment towards Cunningham. I noticed that too in the reading. It seemed like the author really had it out for her for some reason. Great observation!

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  7. Things change | raptnrent.me

    […] Gloriana was interested, like me, in the rather unflattering descriptions of Rachel Cunningham in the Swearingen story. Murder by Gaslight paints a somewhat different picture of her. It makes me wonder about the authorship and motivations behind the Swearingen story. There is a lengthier document online that gives Swearingen’s side of things. I haven’t read it, but the fourth page has multiple people certifying its authenticity. We see the same thing in modern days, where stories get reported in the news, then dramatized in the media, as in the Smart case. […]

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