Lizzie Borden

.. to do for his own” (Sullivan 217). Mr. Borden tried to make up for it by buying them their own house as well, but the damage was already done. From that point on they ate alone and addressed Abby, their mother since the age of 2, as Mrs. Borden (Lincoln 41). Another interesting event that occurred in the Borden household was the disappearance of Abby’s cat.

Robert Sullivan, in his research of the case, interviewed Lizzie’s niece: Lizzie Borden had company and my aunt had a tabby cat and the cat was trained so that it would touch the latch — you know, it was [sic] latches in those days — she’d touch the latch and the door would open. So the cat went in where Lizzie was entertaining and she took it out and shut the door again, and came back so this is what she told Aunt Abby and Abby told my mother; Lizzie Borden finally excused herself and went downstairs — took the cat downstairs — and put the carcass on the chopping block and chopped its head off. My aunt for days wondered where that cat was — all she talked about. Finally, Lizzie said, ‘You go downstairs and you’ll find your cat.’ My aunt did (Sullivan, 23). It takes a strange frame of mind to be able to chop a cat’s head off, especially for a reason that small.

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Assuming that was her single driving force for killing it, but perhaps Lizzie had some built up anger towards their stepmother. On the day of the murder even more interesting things happened. One is the issue of her dress. After reading the court testimony of many of the people who were in the house that day, there is somewhat of a discrepancy as to what the color and type of the dress she was wearing (Brown 2). The general consensus is that early that morning she was wearing a light blue dress which is not in her habit of wearing.

She then later changed again once the house began to fill with police and neighbors into another dress (Martins, Michael, and Binette 29). In many of the sources that I have read the writers tend to focus on Lizzie’s calm and cool, attitude throughout the trial. At first I thought that this made Lizzie look more and more suspicious. After reading the dialogue of the trial I feel differently. On the day of the murders, Seabury W.

Bowen was questioned. Q. Well, what is commonly called morphine A. Yes sir. Q.

The next day you changed that A. I did not change the medicine but doubled the dose. Q. How long did she continue to have that A. She continued to have that all the time she was in the station house.

Q. After her arrest, was it not A. And before. Q. In other words she had it all the time up to the time of her arrest, the hearing and while in the station house A.

Yes sir. Q. Does not morphine given in double doses to allay mental distress and nervous excitement somewhat affect the memory and change and alter the view of things and give people hallucinations A. Yes sir (Porter 212). Discussion: There are innumerable theories as to how Mr.

and Mrs. Borden were murdered. Some of these have interesting and very possible twists, while others are laughable. Nearly every theory has something missing, whether it is lack of motive opportunity, or evidence. One of the two more plausible theories is that Bridget, the maid, was the murderer. According to Radin, Bridget, ordered to wash windows on the hottest day of the year, went mad and hacked Mrs. Borden to death.

She then murdered Mr. Borden in order to prevent him from reporting the hypothesized argument that Bridget had had with Mrs. Borden earlier in the morning, for such a report would incriminate her (Porter 13). Unfortunately, assigning the motive of rage to Bridget is difficult, since there is no evidence that suggests that she harbored great hostility toward her employer. Was Bridget Lizzie’s lover, and so her rage against Mrs. Borden was fueled by Lizzie’s unjust treatment at the hands of her stepmother and father? There is no evidence to support this idea.

Radin, I think, is seduced by the story that Bridget, in her old age, almost confessed during an illness that she supposed was her last (Porter 28). Radin’s account is possible, but his hypothesis is missing a motive; Bridget never showed signs of hostility towards the Bordens. Also as for Lizzie and Bridget being lovers, that also has no strength what so ever. The next theory is that Lizzie killed her parents. Gross proposes that Lizzie did indeed murder her parents, but that she could not have brought off the crime successfully without Bridget’s assistance. It was Bridget who spirited away — virtually under the very noses of the police — the murder weapon and the bloodstained dress. Gross suggests the possibility that Lizzie plotted the murders with Bridget. Gross is also missing a motive, but answers most of the rest of the questions: Why didn’t Bridget hear 200lb Abby fall to the ground? What happened to the murder weapon? Why did Lizzie pay for Bridget’s return to Ireland? This explains the mutually non-accusatory testimony of Lizzie and Bridget with respect to each other.

Gross points out that only the two of them were in the house when the two-hundred-pound Abby Borden fell heavily and noisily to the floor after being struck. He finds significance in Bridget’s passage being paid so that she could return to Ireland — was it Lizzie’s part of the bargain? He also attaches importance to Bridget’s almost-death-bed confession over half a century later, when Bridget was living in Butte, Montana (Porter 56). Conclusion: The discovery of a murder weapon, or even just a clue left by the murderer, like bloody clothes or a footprint, would be enough to lift the fog draped over this case. A concrete motive for any of the persons thought physically capable of completing the crime could also very easily seal the case, finally bringing the century old crime to a close. Biographies.


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