The Devil In The White City

1022 Words 5 Pages
The Devil in the White City follows the exploits of two men with radically different lives, yet they still bare similarities to one another. The first is Daniel Burnham, the architect challenged with the task of making the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago stand out with an attraction to rival the Eiffel tower. The second central character, and serving as the other side of the coin to Burnham, is Dr. H.H. Holmes; a career criminal, pharmacist and serial killer who designed elaborate traps and mechanisms designed to increase the ease of his kills and disposal of bodies. The lives of these two men are told as two separate stories until they quickly become intertwined, when Holmes arrives in Chicago in anticipation of the World's Fair, hoping to …show more content…
One theme which comes to mind in response to this query is the idea that these two men are like “yin” and “yang”; polar opposites, representing creation and destruction, and their accomplishments go to show both the great potential of humankind to accomplish great things and the great depths of evil which humanity is capable of. Aside from this, the author does spend a great deal of time focusing on just how many other great works and careers were inspired by the 1893 World’s Fair. For instance, “Walt Disney’s father, Elias, helped build the White City; Walt’s Magic Kingdom might well be a descendant” (Larson 373), and “the writer L. Frank Baum and his artist-partner William Wallace Denslow visited the fair; its grandeur informed their creation of Oz” (Larson 373). These two statements alone are just a couple of examples of how many people were in awe of what they saw at the fair in Chicago that year, and many of these witnesses became some of the most influential and inspiring people in American history; Walt Disney is one such man who needs no introduction due to his lasting legacy and L. Frank Baum wrote one of the most beloved children’s book series set in his fictional land of “Oz”, and the Emerald City was no doubt modeled after the White City skyline. So, again, why alternate between the chief architect of the World’s Fair and an infamous serial killer who exploited the opportunity? As Larson, himself states, “it is a story of the ineluctable conflict between good and evil…..the White City and the Black” (Larson xi); he is pointing out how the goals of these two men directly contradict one another, and how they represent the struggle for the soul of Chicago. To provide further context for that statement, it is said in the books’

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