Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Great Escapist


The reference I chose was about a ring of popular criminals of the 18th century. Since the dawn of time society revered criminals to be bad, so why was it that a criminal like Jack Sheppard, popular in the 18th century, be noted in Bram Stoker's Dracula? So here's the history behind it.

     I chose "Macheath and the Gaol-Breakers" by Pat Rogers to support the idea of Stoker mention of Jack Sheppard in Jack Seward’s dairy record of Renfield's escape from the asylum and restraining him, "Jack Sheppard himself couldn't get free from the strait-waist coat that keeps him restrained, and he's chained to a wall in the padded room"(113, Stoker)

In Pat Roger's article is about the great criminal London Escapist and how they influenced the Opera , The Beggar's Opera and the lead character Macheath. Roger's explain how Macbeth has aspects of the major thieves of the 19th century he relates Macbeth to Jack Sheppard by mentioning how Macheath escapes the law numerous time," There are three escapes in the play, one at the end of every act, and they definitely establish Macbeth as a Jack Sheppard, the escape artist". (14,Roger) The article also mentions that Jack Sheppard was charming, handsome and also very cunning. Why didn’t Stoker use another example such as Houdini who was surely alive at this time? I believe for one, Jack Sheppard is a well talked about criminal of the 18th century . He was known for his clever escapes. After he’s broken out of prison he would dress as a commoner to deceive the police. Reinfield escaped from the asylum through the window miraculously which bewildered Seward and his men. As Jack Sheppard is clever so was Renfield convincing Seward of his wishes of sugar and rats knowing that he’s being observed but as well as only speaking of subjects he wishes to share. Unfortunately Jack Sheppard was not able to escape his death penalty that he received because of repeated offences of escape as well as the guards taking provisions to disable Sheppard’s mobility which is how he wasn’t able to escape maybe this is a foreshadowing of what’s to happen to Renfield in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

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