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Angel of Darkness - Violence Among Women

Updated on May 29, 2013

Deeply Rooted Stereotypes

Historian Caleb Carr breaks stereotypes that have persisted since before the foundation of America as the New Nation. He does so with a minutely though entertainingly detailed historical fiction of America's late 1800s. This era was known by some as The Gay '90s or Gilded Age, but sadly, in some sectors of New York City, little existed to make the citizens and immigrants feel happy and gay.

Serial killing in America can betrayed to 1826 and efforts are afoot to find it all the way back to the beginning of recorded history, if the evidence exists (see below).

The phenomenon of serial killing was known in New York in 1896 and recognized as such, although little was done to eliminate such horrors by corrupt city bosses - Local Elected Officials - the underworld, and corrupt sections of police departments. The term "serial killer" was used in Central Ohio before 1970 and fully evident in local high school and university social studies and criminology classes from the 1960s and 1970s (I heard it in January 1970). The term was not invented by an FBI agent in the mid-1970s, but this is popular mythology and a build-up of one man. No doubt he did his part to popularize the term, but Chicago (Walter Reckless/Simon Dinitz/others) and even Columbus Ohio were already there. The term likely was first used in NYC itself, and who knows how far back in time?

The author Carr applies his historically correct characters todisproving gender stereotypes that are held even in the 2010s, though they are beginning to decay -- additional modern societal mythologies, as they are.

Specifically, one mythology is that only men can be aggressive, abusive, and murderers. I think we know that to be untrue since female gangs became more popular in the 1990s, women's Pro Basketball, Football, and Hockey have caught on, and unbalanced mothers began using microwave ovens to murder their young.

At this writing, Casey Anthony is on trial for possibly chloroforming and murdering her tiny daughter, probably in order to go out clubbing one night. Some mothers (I knew one) administer codeine to their babies and pets in order to do the same. Previously, Susan Smith locked her two toddlers into her automobile and directed into a body of water in order to drown the children because her boyfriend did not like or want children. The book See Jane Hit talks about aggressiveness among females, not always a bad thing - sports and business aggressiveness, for example. Women can be aggressive. Women can be murderous.

Carr also applies his characters effectively in breaking the false notions that all women are meant to be wives, mothers, and nurturers, because they are programmed to so be. They are not - not in a modern society; and not all are so programmed genetically in any society. Any demographic may become unbalanced and commit murder, but many of the public do not wish to believe that women and children can do so.

Belle Gunness with her children, whome she murdered.
Belle Gunness with her children, whome she murdered. | Source

Belle Gunness moved to America circa 1881. Accounts of her story in print and on film state that she killed suitors and her own daughters, Lucy and Myrtle.

Some opinions are further that she killed two husbands, all her children, and several other people over the course of decades.

She seems to have collected a lot of insurance benefits from her 40+ murders. I think she may be part of the character of Libby Hatch in Angel Of Darkness , the murderer of hospital patients, her own children, and others.

The Bowery of New York City in 1896
The Bowery of New York City in 1896 | Source

Belle Gunness and Other Parents That Killed Their Children

On the Other Hand

We know that men can be nurturers as well, and all women need not be so. I've seen male cats take care of kittens; I'm sure others have seen similar events - and how about human single fathers, of whom I know several that are doing a good job of it. -- People need only look around to break gender stereotypes. Any gender may kill. Stereotypes make people who use them feel safe and popular, "in the know", savvy - it's preposterous.

They are none of these. They are moving through life in a protective veil - or a paper bag over their heads.

Caleb Carr's negative critics do not like that he points out facts and essentially calls discrimination of any kind wrong and small minded. We know that even some preachers have sexual affairs, steal money, punch people in the nose. and attempt murder - do all kinds of shoddy things - and unbalanced medical personnel murder patients.

Instead of contributing intelligent debate on the matter, some few critics have employed Carr's own literary device in an immaturecopy-cat style that is both clear and weak:

  1. They exert that Carr is "not right" (in the head) and so writes about such things to treat himself. In the novel, critics of the psychologist Kreizler state that:
  2. The doctor suffers from psychological problems and so displaces his damaged psyche onto sweet, innocent, women and children to distract from his own activities and to solve his own inner turmoil.

Both of these are untrue.

Which of us in America has not known some male or female - even a few children - that has maltreated, abused, or killed a child or adult of any gender; and has not been stopped, educated, treated, or even punished - whatever is appropriate to the case? The fact is that some of their victims have died and no consequences were exacted.

NYC Elevated Rail Line at 110thSt
NYC Elevated Rail Line at 110thSt | Source

On Film

To witness some of the more extreme experiences in abuse and gender violence without being present at the real thing, view the films The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl That Played with Fire, and The Girl That Kicked the Hornet's Nest , which I have reviewed (filmed original language with English subtitles).

The films may or may not be based in facts and composite characters. The stories and their characters, however, remind me of characteristics and stories of patients I have known, with their anguishes and erratic, abusive, even murderous behaviors. Approximately 30 minutes into the second 2-hour film, I experienced a psychosomatic reaction of intense itching and hives - crawling skin in reality. Now I really know what that term means. After the conclusion of Fire , I continue itch for twenty minutes. The trio of films create quite an impact. I too an antihistamine before viewing the final of the trio of films and found the justice meted out in it quite satisfying. Caleb Carr's books would likely create similar reactions if produced on film.

Carr's books may not be made into films soon, although the possibility has been discussed. The Alienist cannot be recreated accurately on film because of the severity of the butchery and perversion in the story - well, perhaps with CGI. Angel of Darkness might have a chance, but a film of a woman butchering her children may not be well received. The book is an incredible novel by itself. It includes quite good writing, along with historical figures Teddy Roosevelt, Clarence Darrow, Cornelius Vanderbilt II, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and others as contributing characters to the plot. The female lead in the novel, Sara Howard, operates her own Private Investigation firm in this story and takes abuse from no one - she carries a pistol in a hidden pocket of her long skirts.

The Brooklyn Bridge, 1896.
The Brooklyn Bridge, 1896. | Source

Fiction by Caleb Carr

Comments and Experiences

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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Thanks! I find some pretty interesting books.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Wow, this is pretty intense! Fascinating Hub. You always write about the most interesting things, Patty! I'm so glad you're on HubPages.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      7 years ago from London, UK

      Needless to say it is a excellent hub and murder and violence seems to be multiplying by the day, these days. It is so shocking what people are capable of. They also doit for the slightest reason which is no reason at all. What has become of the human race?

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Very interesting and informative, good hub

    • David Rooke profile image

      David Rooke 

      7 years ago from Villasis, Pangasinan

      Great Hub on an interesting topic.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Yes - it was a lot to sit through without getting up and walking around or something.

    • Earth Angel profile image

      Earth Angel 

      7 years ago

      Dearest Patty,

      I thought I was the only one who got "hives" when presented with something that takes me a bit to wrap by head around!? I should have known I was alone!

      GREAT Hub! Blessings always, Earth Angel!

    • roshall profile image


      7 years ago from Ohio

      This is a great hub.Look forward to read more of them.

    • Austinstar profile image


      7 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

      Excellent review of Caleb Carr and his cast of characters. His books look formidable and they are, but they are also hard to put down. He writes about subject matter that is fascinating to the detective side of us

    • rihsam10 profile image


      7 years ago

      interesting and informative hub Patty Inglish

    • gamelover profile image

      Meskens Geert 

      7 years ago from Belgium

      A nice hub


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