Burnham’s vision was creation. Holmes’ was destruction. It’s odd how polar opposite outcomes can stem from the same motivation. As in The Great Gatsby, a portion of both Holmes and Burnham’s ambition came from the innate human desire to find happiness. Burnham’s version of happiness involved being in the spotlight and having his grandest work showcased for the world to see. His vision also included a side of revenge towards the elite colleges who had turned him down. In contrast, Holmes’ fulfillment came from avoiding attention. His satisfaction was directed inward, with the fleeting feelings of pleasure that came from both the torturing and murdering of young women along with the escaping/getting away with it. Both men believed, to some extent, that gaining power would bring them that happiness they so desperately strived for. Burnham’s power originated in the people of the US through the World’s Fair, his main work. If more individuals attended the fair, then more media coverage and publicity would result. Naturally, this publicity would include adoration and thanks for the man behind the entire operation, which would boost Burnham’s reputation as an architect. Reputation is a compelling sort of power, but it is the exact opposite of Holmes’ desire for secrecy. Remaining anonymous holds its own sort of power for Holmes. When he holds that knowledge, the knowledge of his identity, over the heads of the policemen who begin to suspect him, Holmes gets a sort of pleasure in avoiding detection. This, coupled with the power over life and death he feels when he commits a murder, is enough to motivate him to continue with his killings. Holmes and Burnham both found only fleeting satisfaction in their work. Holmes’ pleasure was mentioned to only last a few hours to a day at most before he felt the need to kill again. Burnham’s satisfaction was more complicated. As soon as something was completed at the fair, a disaster struck and any pride that Burnham might have felt at a job well done was blown away with the building’s rooftops. On certain days, such as Chicago Day, he may have felt a lasting satisfaction, but overall Burnham must have been perpetually unsatisfied with the fair. If he had the perspective on the cultural genesis that the fair truly was, would he have been more satisfied with his work? Historians and readers will never know. (unless, you know, time travel.)
I definitely agree with a lot of what Alyssa is saying, she is spot on with the different ways that Holmes and Burnham are, especially about the ambition of find an inner happiness through the work the both do. The part I don't exactly agree with is Holmes's desire to avoid attention. Near the end of the novel, Holmes becomes somewhat of a celebrity. Everyone is reading about the search for the children, as well as the trial when he is suspected of killing over two hundred people. Holmes wanted everyone to know what he did. He even began writing a memoir in his jail cell to try to get the public on his side, saying that he hadn't killed the children. Holmes found enjoyment from manipulating what people thought of him as well as knowing he was sending Frank Geyer on a seemingly impossible, never-ending search. I think this desire for attention is one thing that does connect Burnham and Holmes.
Burnham and Holmes were both great men. Burnham embodied greatness in a more traditional sense, as he literally built a monument to his successes. He was a member of America’s elite, and a very affluent one at that. Holmes, on the other hand, was great in a radically different sense. There was no moral greatness about him; instead, Holmes greatness came from the terrible things that he gladly did. Holmes single-handedly introduced America to the twisted sense of self that accompanies serial killing. Burnham built his monument to the ages with stone and mortar, through landscapes and edifices, whereas Holmes constructed his legacy through bone and fire, all glued together with an ever-thickening paste of deceit. These were both very driven men, and their motivation was deep and complex. For Burnham, he was motivated to rise above his past failures, to rise above every obstacle that life threw in his path. This was derived from his initial failure to get accepted into either Harvard or Yale. Because of this failure, Burnham felt that he had a constant chip on his shoulder the entire time he was constructing buildings. The World’s Fair was simply a project so grand that it would amend for all of his past failures and bestow upon him the glory that he thought he deserved. However, Burnham refused to let his ego get the better of him, as he remained very grounded and practical throughout the novel, even when he was constructing something that aimed to redefine the definition of fine architecture. Burnham refused to get lost in idealism when he was building a dreamland, and this grounding nature in combination with his need for atonement for his past failures composed the relentless drive that Burnham displayed throughout the story. Even when his project was completed, Burnham was never satisfied. He definitely felt a sense of accomplishment, but he never allowed himself to grow complacent on his past successes. Instead, he devoted the rest of his life to building even better edifices, some of which still stand today. If Burnham had lived to be even older, who knows what else he could have accomplished, for his motivation would have allowed him to build until his death, and its untimely occurrence only cut him away from creating even more monuments.Holmes also had a similar drive. He was extremely dedicated to his “trade” and always craved more. Obviously, unlike Burnham, Holmes wasn’t exactly in to the whole public works idea, yet he displayed a level of tenacity that rivals Burnham’s. A key difference in their working styles though was that Holmes was very methodical in the execution of his ideas. He would move from one step to the next, almost as if he was a chess player and all of his victims were merely pieces. Only when his task was done would he ever allow himself a smile, and even that was brief and quickly stifled by the aspect of his next victim. This contrasts with Burnham’s way of looking at the big picture and moving from there. For Burnham, the ends justified the means. For Holmes, it was all about the journey. Holmes really took the time to get to know each of his victims before killing them, further emphasizing this point. However, when Holmes bloody trail came to an end, he exhibited an attitude of satisfaction as he stepped into the noose. There was no longing for Holmes, no wishes for murders that were left unfulfilled. It was as if he was a little child who was simply told to stop the game he was playing, and he complied willingly, smiling at the good times he had while he was able to. Maybe he tired of this life and decided to take his unique talents to the next, or maybe he simply decided that humans were unworthy pray after so many killings, and that there was no fun left in hunting them. Regardless of his reason for his satisfaction, Holmes carried it with him to the gallows and into his cement-filled grave, where his secrets lie much deeper than the layer of cement he resides under.
Your reply is incredibly thought-provoking and well-crafted. However, while your opinion on Holmes satisfaction is interesting, I'm not entirely sold. I think that if Holmes hadn't been caught, he would have continued to have fun hunting citizens of the United States. Throughout his numerous murders, Holmes never showed any signs of tiring or getting bored. He led three parties around the country purely for entertainment and didn't seem to care that there was no point to his game other than messing with people. I think it was less that Holmes was completely satisfied at the time of his capture and more that he never wanted the public to find any folly in his persona. By coming off as unbothered by his capture, Holmes could still exert some measure of power over the public. The public was positively fascinated by Holmes and he was well aware of that; by never wavering, Holmes maintained this intrigue and could continue his sick game. Holmes was still playing his game--he was just doing it in a different way.
from Paige A
Burnham and Holmes were both incredibly smart men. They would have to have been to pull of the things they did. They were both very motivated, unfortunately when it came to Holmes that wasnt a good thing, Now, I'm not quite sure we can say for sure what it was exactly that drove Holmes crimes, but its possible to make a good guess. We know that Holmes had some kind of power trip going, he moved the Pietzel family around each other just cause he could. This is probably the biggest reason; he needed to feel powerful. I think it also could be as simple as the fact that he was psycho. If he had continued to live I don't think he would have ever been truly satisfied. He would have just kept killing because at some point his "high" or whatever he felt after he killed would become some kind of craving and it would never stop. But in the end he was caught and killed. Burnham was driven in a healthier way. First off, he wanted to be the best at something. He was denied from the colleges he wanted to go to so I think he felt he had something to prove. Other than that, the fair was a huge deal to the U.S. and Chicago so it would have been horrible to fail. That had to have been a huge motivator to him. I think that because he went on to do so many great things in the world of architecture he was most likely satisfied with his life.
I like what you said about Holmes's power trip. On page 351 to page 352, Larson wrote that Detective Geyer's search was enjoyable for Holmes. It fulfilled his "need for attention and gave him a sense of power over the detective" (page 352). He wanted his memoire published before he would be punished for his crimes. An end to the search would mean an end to this source of happiness. If he was let go, that could be the potential of being the center of even more attention.
Everyone has goals in life. What drives us is one of the differentiating factors between people. I believe both Burnham’s and Holmes’s motivation was their need to satisfy themselves. Burnham wanted to “out-Eiffel Eiffel” and be one of the greatest architects known to mankind. Holmes wanted to achieve the ultimate happiness through murdering his victims. I do not think that either was ever truly satisfied, though. In Burnham’s case, everyone in the world saw the fair as a success except for him. It surpassed the features of the fair in France and influenced the architecture of America’s future. However, one can only see the faults in their own work. This is similar to looking in the mirror. One can only see their imperfections. However, ask anyone else, and they merely look like they always do. For Burnham, as with anyone, he couldn’t be satisfied with his work, but he truly did succeed. Holmes succeeded as well. He killed people, affecting many lives. He also influenced future murderers, like Michael Swango (page 387). But I don’t think that he was satisfied either. If he was, why would he continue murdering people? He craved the satisfaction that he never fully achieved. Burnham died of natural causes, while Holmes was hanged for his crimes. The difference lies in how they are commemorated. In this factor, Burnham is the winner. Memorials in Burnham’s honor were made to revere his great architectural abilities. For Holmes, when someone remembers him, they are thinking about what was wrong with him.
Najeeha, I really liked how you said, "one can only see the faults in their own work" and compared it to looking in the mirror. That was insightful :D Aside from both characters' motivation of personal happiness, I believe other motivators could stem from the general idea of happiness. Holmes' motivation could also come from his desire of power. Holmes enjoyed his sense of authority and dominance over his victims. This feeling of control was another driving force of Holmes' murderous rampage. Now Burnham also had some sort of similar self improvement drive. Burnham failed his acceptance tests into Harvard and Yale. Burnham's need to succeed in the World's Fair was also motivated by him wanting to prove to himself he was capable of great things, even though he wasn't able to attend an ivy league school. I definitely agree with you on your reasoning of why Burnham and Holmes weren't completely satisfied with their work. The legacy both men left for the world juxtapose each other, proving that while both men had great goals in mind, those goals were very dissimilar; both in drive and incentive.
I also agree with LuAnna that when you said, "one can only see the faults in their own work" that it was helpful to your argument. It is very true and many people will connect with that statement because everyone truly does go through that. I also liked how you talked about remembering Holmes and Burnham. You really thought about the question and realized that difference. That even though Burham himself thought he hadn't succeded; other people did and they will remember him for it. Whereas Holmes will just be remembered as a crazy man. Your reference to the book and using the page number to show you didn't just make up Michael Swango was good and shows that you utilized your resources. I am also interested in the memorials left in honor of Burnham. I didn't know that there were any and it would be cool to see what they decided to dedicate to him. Your opinion that both were never truly satisfied is very true and I agree with you. But you have to wonder is anyone ever really satisfied with their life in the end or is it just these two men who are unsatisfied?