The Ending of Alan Moore's From Hell
October 25, 2007 6:55 AM   Subscribe

I've got a question about the ending of Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell's From Hell. Needless to say, SPOILERS follow.

Chapter 14 of the story involves William Gull, on his deathbed, floating through space and time, appearing to various people. In his appendix, Moore provides a detailed explanation of each of these visitations--except the last one, in which Gull appears to a woman in Ireland in 1904 or 1905. She calls her daughters--Anne, Katey, Lizzie, and Pol--and then, perceiving Gull's spirit, tells him, "I know that ye're there, and ye're not havin' these. Clear off now wit' ye. Clear off back to Hell and leave us BE!"

Moore's only comment on this sequence is, "The cryptic scene upon page twenty-three must go without an explanation for the moment. Work it out yourself."

Well, I've tried to work it out, and I'm stumped. My first guess was that one of the daughter's was Alan Moore's mother, but according to Wikipedia, his mother's name was "Sylvia," which doesn't fit.

So I turn to you. Who is this Irish woman, and what is her significance? Idle speculation, personal reactions, and authoritatively researched answers are all equally welcome.
posted by yankeefog to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
As I recall (and it's been a while since I've read the work), I thought the woman was the child of Price Albert Victor and Annie Crook, now grown up and living in Ireland.
posted by Bromius at 7:10 AM on October 25, 2007

er, that's Prince Albert Victor, obviously...
posted by Bromius at 7:10 AM on October 25, 2007

Best answer: The woman is (non-explicitly) suppsed to be Mary Kelly, and the Anne is supposed to be the child of Prince Eddy: i.e. the woman murdered in the flat wasn't Mary Kelly but one of the women who often stayed there.

See this interview for Moore on From Hell and the ending, from which he talks about sightings of Mary Kelly after her death and the fact that the body was mutilated beyond recognition:

"She had no face. Bits of her were cut down to the bone. She had no stomach. I mean, it was, it was sort of, um - So. Who knows? And by that time I just wanted to give the poor woman a happy ending, I wanted to somehow - without actually going against what was possible, I wanted to sort of give her a way out, just - and actually that, that final scene, with the ghost of gull, descending to the hilltop in Ireland where there's this woman that he's never seen before and there are four little girls, that's one of the most powerful scenes in the book to me. There's something spine-tingling in the bit where she tells him to get back to Hell where he comes from. There's just something in that which I - I find really in - you know, it's moving."
posted by Hartster at 7:33 AM on October 25, 2007

Best answer: (To add on preview, late but still helpful I hope:)

I'm pretty sure that was Mary aka Marie aka Emma Kelly, she looks the right age and physique, and remember the letter she left Abberline as Emma saying she had to run away. The implication is that Gull killed the wrong girl in his last ritual (my guess is he killed Julia, Mary's friend and casual lover (I think it's implied she's also one of the "street girls"). Browsing through Moore's notes at the end of Volume Six (I have this in its original serialization, sorry if that confuses you if you have the tome), he seems to imply the Julia character was completely fabricated so as to allow Gull's mistake. That's my "work it out for yourself". ;-)
posted by Iosephus at 7:35 AM on October 25, 2007

Also, as for spine-tingling, I get floored every time I read Gull's last ritual, when he breaches the time barrier and is allowed a glimpe of our times at its most routinely.

"Where comes this dullness in your eyes? Has your century numbed you so? Shall man be given marvels only when he is beyond all wonder? [...] This dissaffection. THIS is armageddon."

Holy shit of shits. Derail over, sorry. There are few works of fiction that have touched me as deeply as From Hell.
posted by Iosephus at 7:45 AM on October 25, 2007

Best answer: Also also, a correction if I'm not wrong myself (after rereading a few pages on Vol. 2). The Prince's child seems to be called Alice, Anne was the mother. Mary dumps the kid on Sickert, who in turns dumps it on Anne's parents, who have no clue about the whole mess and they even manage to turn into blackest tragicomedy (reread it, don't want to spoil it!).

The implication then would be that those are Mary's kids, and Mary has named her four girls after her dead or maimed friends.
posted by Iosephus at 8:10 AM on October 25, 2007

What Iosephus said.
posted by infinitewindow at 10:24 AM on October 25, 2007

When I first read it I assumed that it was a vision of what Mary would have been liked, what she would have been doing etc had she lived... or even that she, and the other murder victims, were living on in heaven...

However after seeing the (pretty poor) film based on the GN, which I seem to remember is much more explicit about it (I think... I've only seen it once) I sussed that it was Mary, who had survived. And what Moore has said later, confirmed it.

(Oh and I first read From Hell next to a roaring fire in the middl of winter... which added a lot to the atmosphere)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:17 PM on October 25, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks, everybody!
posted by yankeefog at 1:22 PM on October 25, 2007

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