For which two murders is Mrs. Spence responsible?

Expert Answers
scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Janet Spence from Huxley's "The Gioconda Smile" is undeniably responsible for the murder of the first Mrs. Hutton (Emily) because she intentionally poisons Emily by slipping arsenic into her coffee.

After Mr. Hutton marries one of his other mistresses, Doris, following Emily's death, Ms. Spence becomes vindictive and spreads the rumor that Mr. Hutton poisoned his first wife in order to marry his lover Doris. Mr. Hutton is found guilty of "wilful murder," sentenced to death, and summarily executed. Thus while Ms. Spence does not personally kill Mr. Hutton, her testimony on the witness stand and initiation of the rumor about his murdering his wife lead to his unjust execution.

What is interesting about this story is its modern relevance. Because of her rumor about Mr. Hutton and his first wife, Ms. Spence influences Doris (who is pregnant) to attempt suicide. If Doris had been successful in her attempt--killing herself and her baby--would Ms. Spence have been held accountable for her death too? The same question is currently being asked in regards to several "Facebook suicides" that resulted from bullying and cruel Internet postings. "The Gioconda Smile" and recent current events make society consider the definition of "murder."

Read the study guide:
The Gioconda Smile

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question