Part 1: London Why do the people of London rejoice in the hanging and sentencing of thieves?This question is from "The Secret River".

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In a historical context, and according to a journal found in London dated back to 1711, the need for amusement in London has always resulted in a myriad of activities that to the modern mind would seem morbid.  The London carnivals would bring anything from mutants to hermaphrodites, midgets, and deformed people and that was considered amusement.

London also boasted some of the filfthiest brothels and opium dens in the East End, which were also a form of vacation spots for the higher classes, even.

The public hangings were the epitome of mass hysteria combined with crowds, both rich and poor, feeding off each other's morbid curiosity for the death, and the human tragedy.

For the hangings, people would go in fancy dress (if upper class) and some required the payment of a half crown, such as in the story The Secret River , when Rob and Thornhill witnessed Collarbone's last day as a show of loyalty. Yet, even the narrator tells with some subtle fascination how Collarbone tweaked and twitched next to the lady's dog, and it mentions how many people joined to witness the spectacle as if it were a London Opera Concert.