1. Ultimately, Spring-Heeled Jack had his roots in the past and grew as a reaction to social change
The fear surrounding the phenomenon of Spring Heeled Jack was the result of a conflict between progress and tradition. On the one hand, the Victorian age was an era of technological development. The industrial revolution was in full swing and humanity was more in control of its environment than ever before. These changes were accompanied by a vast shift of the majority of the population from country to town. Many of these urban migrants still believed in the power of the supernatural. So, they brought their rural superstitions went with them.
The character and name of Spring Heeled Jack found his echo in many ancient mischief-making figures of rural British Culture. “Jack-in-the-Green,” another name for Puck or the Green Man, was one, an anti-hero or mischief maker who accompanied the May Queen in May Day processions. Another was Jack O’Kent, a figure from the Welsh borders who made a pact with the devil. Mischief-making aside, Spring Heeled Jack’s speed can be attributed to another legendary character, Jack Robinson. The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue of 1811 described this character as “a very volatile gentleman..who would call on his neighbors and be gone before his name could be announced.”
These rural traditions moved into the town from the country in much the same way as the concept of Spring Heeled Jack moved from the rural fringes into London itself. Here, as people tried to make sense of the strange new world they found themselves in, these old beliefs and fears mutated. As such, Spring-Heeled Jack can be seen as a hybrid of ancient and modern, town and country, old fears and new.
Where Do We Get this Stuff? Here are our sources:
Spring-Heeled Jack: the Terror of London, Mackley, J. S, Aeternum: the Journal of Contemporary Gothic Studies. 3(2), pp. 120. 23244895, 2016