Literary Analysis of The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson Erik Larson is the author of numerous best-selling books, such as The Devil in the White City, which was based off Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. Larson splits this book into two plot lines, one focusing on serial killer H.H Holmes and his ideas and plans; and the other focusing on John Root and Daniel Burnham, who were talented architects that were appointed responsible for building the fair. The dominant theme of this book is the representation of good and evil. Larson can apply this theme to both plot lines and does an incredible job of combining the plot lines into a well written and understandable novel that is filled to the brim with suspense. Larson’s use of vivid descriptions allowed the author to portray Chicago’s successes from an abominable reputation that the city of Chicago once had.
The Devil in the White City The Devil in the White City is a historical non-fiction book written by Erik Larson that reads like a novel. The book follows two, real main characters, during the building and existence of the Chicago World’s fair. The first is an American architect named Daniel Burnham.
In Erik Larson’s novel The Devil in the White City takes place during the Gilded Age. During this period of time everything appears good and golden on the outside when in reality everything was full of corruption. In the novel, the author takes the reader to the city of Chicago, where the city is “swelled “in population causing the city to expand in all “available directions” (Larson 44). As Chicago became the “second most populous [city] in the nation after New York” there was an urge that city show off to the world and the nation of how great it was through the Chicago World’s Fair (Larson 44). The Chicago World’s Fair was an opportunity for the city to come together and create event so spectacular to shock the world. However, as Chicago prepared to awe people with this extravagant fair the city faced skepticism on weather or not issues of urbanization, sanitation, and crime would be fixed in time for the World’s Fair.
The Chicago World Fair stirred many emotions in this great time of industrialization, but not only was Chicago shining in the spotlight from the fair, it was also promoting something much more sinister, this dark enclosing spotlight shined directly on H.H Holmes. Burnham the leader of the World Fair and H. H Holmes the notorious serial killer, are the two main characters in this novel that Erik Larson uses the balance between light and dark between these two’s personalities. In the novel The Devil in the White City Erik Larson uses Imagery, paradox, and alliteration to show the balance between the light and dark in the ever growing city of Chicago.
Architecture was becoming a booming business. Skyscrapers were being constructed among other new buildings, and in the midst of the already progressive city, Chicago had been elected as the host for the Columbian Exposition. The fair would take up a large park in the city and bring people from around the world to experience a new social and cultural event. Beside the hectic fair was violence within the city. Death was normal in a growing place like Chicago.
The juxtaposition of two opposing stories is enough to get anyone’s head spinning. Comparing the glamorous production of the Chicago World Fair to the ominous destruction and killing caused by H.H. Holmes in the background is all the more interesting. Erik Larson’s 2003 nonfiction novel does just that. One would never think to relate murder to art until after reading this book. In The Devil in the White City, Erik Larson uses figurative language, imagery, and juxtaposition to create a vivid illustration of the contrast between good and evil in Chicago in 1893.
The Devil In The White City had many plot lines that took place in Chicago around 1893 at the World's Fair. The first plot line focuses mainly on Daniel Burnham constructing the World's Fair with his partner John Root. It tells a story of struggle for the men, how they had such a hard time constructing the large Farris wheel, to having to open unfinished, then having trouble getting attendance up. Then the struggle is over for the two guys for a short amount of time. Not long after they gather up just enough money to pay off their debts, the Fair had to shut down, as the mayor of Chicago had been assassinated, honestly a more positive reputation for Chicago.
The non fiction novel, “The Devil in the White City”, is filled with twists and turns as author Eric Larson compares the lives of two men thought to be living two entirely different lives. Chicago’s World Fair, in remembrance of the landing of Columbus in America, is a major aspect in the lives of both men, named H.H Holmes and Daniel Burnham. In this specific passage, however, the literary element of symbolism is applied and very well so. The illuminations lighting up the city symbolizes positivity. With European rivals always “one step ahead”, the lights covering Chicago specifically give a sense of hope and America’s potential to be improved. The beams radiating light exemplify America at its best.
It’s a really good book to read, because it will change the view that we have as citizens, living us with many questions without answer for the
Throughout the course of his The Devil in the White City, Erik Larson describes Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair through the eyes of two different main characters: Herman Webster Mudgett—a psychopathic serial killer who builds his famous “death castle” on the outskirts of the fairgrounds, and Daniel Burnham—the director of works for the World’s Columbian Exposition. Larson employs the use of many contrasting themes within his writing including success and failure, but perhaps most importantly, murder and beauty. In order to emphasize said themes, Larson juxtaposes the accounts of his two main characters: Mudgett and Burnham. There is no doubt that the manner in which Larson portrays Mudgett is sketchy at best. Rather than introducing him with a concise description, Larson familiarizes the reader with Mudgett over the course of several chapters.
Their city was growing and was awarded the chance to host the World’s Columbian Exchange. Chicago was becoming a prideful place. Officials and citizens were not concerned when people went missing because their city was thriving. Because Chicago was a selfish city, people dying in Chicago was not a concern. “Chicago was nothing more than a greedy, hog-slaughtering backwater.”
The Devil in the White City Rhetorical Analysis Essay The Chicago World’s Fair, one of America’s most compelling historical events, spurred an era of innovative discoveries and life-changing inventions. The fair brought forward a bright and hopeful future for America; however, there is just as much darkness as there is light and wonder. In the non-fiction novel, The Devil in the White City, architect Daniel Burnham and serial killer H. H. Holmes are the perfect representation of the light and dark displayed in Chicago. Erik Larson uses positive and negative tone, juxtaposition, and imagery to express that despite the brightness and newfound wonder brought on by the fair, darkness lurks around the city in the form of murder, which at first, went unnoticed.
The Devil’s Highway, by Luis Alberto Urrea is the true story of 26 men who attempted to cross the Mexican border through the bleak Sonora Desert in May of 2001. Urrea describes the lives of the men who attempted to cross, what happened to them, and the response of the people working on the border and who encountered them. He explores the issue by describing both the personal experiences of people trying to emigrate from Mexico to the U.S., and of people working on the border. The story was made both realistic and compelling through the information gathered and research conducted for a full year prior to writing the story.