The Murder Of Helen Jewett: An Analysis

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In 1836, the gruesome death of a prostitute encaptivated the public eye and began a newspaper frenzy that centered on a morbid fixation of the life and death of Helen Jewett. Patricia Cline Cohen's The Murder of Helen Jewett pieces together the facts of Helen's life and death in an attempt to describe gender inequality in America by giving a meticulous account of life in the 1830s. (Insert small biography) Around three in the morning on Sunday, April 10, 1836 Rosina Townsend, the madam of the brothel, was spurred from her bed at the south end of Thomas St by a man knocking on the front door. While she was up she noticed that a globe lamp, which was normally on the second floor, was sitting lit on a table in the back parlor and the door to the back yard was ajar. Rosina saw nothing in the backyard, then went upstairs to investigate further. Upon opening the door to Helen Jewett's room, smoke poured out and, on the bed, sat a half-charred Helen with three gashes on her brow. Helen's companion for the night was nowhere to be…show more content…
Cohen begins at Helen's murder and stays in that time period for a time, but then jumps into the past with no warning. Several times throughout the book, Cohen will jump to the time of Helen's death and then back to her childhood without any indication of where in the timeline the reader is. This method of writing disrupts Cohen's flow of series of events. In collusion, Cohen's research and dedication to the story of Helen Jewett is remarkable, if at times overbearing. This book is a good read once the reader gets used to Cohen's extraneous notes and references. However, the dedication that went in to creating such a descriptive study of sexism and its effects on society and the criminal justice system make the book compelling. Therefore, it can be firmly stated that Cohen establishes a wonderful case study the effects of sexism in the 1800s based on a horrendous and sexually charged

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