The Devil in the White City

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Erik Larson’s book tells the story of two men in Chicago during the early 1890’s. One was an architect, Daniel Burnham, and one was a murderer, Herman Webster Mudgett, or Dr. H. H. Holmes. Although these are two different lives, Larson attempts to and successfully merges their lives together in one book. This juxtaposition adds to the book because Holmes relied on Burnham’s fair to lure his victims in. The theme of evil comes into play when reading this book. Holmes has had murder on his mind since birth. Holmes said in his confession, “I was born with the devil in me. I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing.” (pg. 1) He saw the World’s Fair as an opportunity to perform many experiments, tortures, and murders. The World’s Fair was a festival that celebrated the 400th Anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s discovery of the New World. Holmes built a hotel a few miles away from the fair and named it the “World’s Fair Hotel.” This is where many of his murders took place. Holmes was indeed very evil. Holmes was not only a murderer, but he was a mastermind also. His unsightly building, which he called his “Murder Castle,” consisted of trap doors, a wooden slide that transported his future victims from floors to basement, and secret passages. Holmes also had a crematorium that would reach a temperature of 3000 degrees Fahrenheit, to dispose of all evidence. Also inside the killing machine was a gas chamber and dissecting lab. Holmes focused more on women than men, because women were easier to persuade to move into his hotel with other women, although it was not the best looking hotel. Once inside, it was very unlikely that the women would be seen again. Daniel Burnham was the chief architect of the White City, the “suburbs” of Chicago, and where the World’s Fair was held. One theme pertaining to his part in

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