Sie sind auf Seite 1von 8

Megan Ma ID: 25122098 meganjm@uci.

edu Psychopathy in Hard Hearted Hannah The song Hard Hearted Hannah (The Vamp of Savannah) is a song about a woman named Hannah who has a heart of stone. Composed by Jack Yellen, Bob Bigelow, Charles Bates, and released in 1924, this song describes a particularly cold woman who lives to see men suffer. She is described as the vamp of Savannah and uses her charm and feminine wiles to draw in the men, then torture them. Thus, she is shunned by society as being extremely frigid. Many attributes of Hannahs can be considered psychopathic and give reasoning to the motives behind her acts. Since the song itself comes from a third person point of view, there is no evidence as to what is going on in the mind of the criminal herself. However, from what is revealed through the narrators perspective in the song, societys treatment of Hannah is apparent. This treatment surely has some effect on Hannah that leads her to become pleased with her deeds. The particular crime depicted in the song is that of Hannah helping to drown a man, or actually drowning a man herself. The other lyrics in the song, though, suggest many more crimes committed by Hannah. However, for the particular crime of drowning a man, the theory that can best explain this is psychopathy. Psychopathy was developed by Robert Hare in the late 1900s. This theory contains a checklist (PCL, PCL-R) to determine whether or not the person has psychopathy. This checklist contains two factors. The first factor is personality (emotional/interpersonal) and the items in this factor are: glib and superficial charm, grandiose self-worth, pathological lying, cunning and manipulativeness, lack of remorse or guilt, shallow affect (superficial emotions), lack of

empathy, failure to accept responsibility for own actions. The second factor is social deviance and the items in this factor are: impulsivity, poor behavior controls, need for excitement/stimulation, lack of responsibility, early behavior problems, adult antisocial behavior, lack or realistic and long-term goals, irresponsibility. Many attributes on the PCL can be found in Hannah as depicted in the song. In looking at the first factor, most of the items apply partially or perfectly to Hannah. First of all is the glib and superficial charm, which is the tendency to be smooth and engaging. Hannah is described as The Vamp of Savannah, vamp meaning vampire otherwise known as a femme fatale. Merriam-Webster defines femme fatale as: a seductive woman who lures men into dangerous or compromising situations. Hannah clearly fits this description as the song lyrics say to tease them and thrill em/ to torture and kill em/ is her delight they say. The first part detailing the seduction and enticing of her prey. The second line clearly outlines the dangerous situations that the men find themselves in with Hannah. In order to draw in these victims, she acts as a sort of siren with undeniable charm and ease. The second item is grandiose self-worth in which the person thinks extremely highly of themselves and can be considered conceited and arrogant. The title of the song is Hard Hearted Hannah and she is described multiple times in the song as being or compared to cold items. A major reason that people see her as cold and leave her alone is because of her pride in being able to rope in men and kill them ruthlessly. She is portrayed as being the meanest gal in town, according to the townspeople. This particular item is not quite established in Hannahs personality as shown by her crimes. Instead, it has been enforced on her by her fellow peers who attribute her pride to a grandiose sense of self-worth.

The next item is pathological lying in which the person becomes cunning or even deceptive in order to reach their goals. Once again, the description of Hannah as the Vamp of Savannah connotes a certain sort of otherworldly draw, one that uses their intelligence to draw the men to her. This goes hand in hand with cunning and manipulativeness, she uses her looks and icy charm to coax her victims to participate in her scheme. The next item is the lack of remorse and guilt which is a lack of feeling or concern for the losses and suffering of the victims, usually having feelings of disdain towards the victim. Hannah demonstrates this through her delight in torturing and killing them, without a thought as to their pain and suffering. In the particular deed seen by the narrator, Hannah is pouring water from a pan on a drowning man. It is not clear whether or not she had originally started drowning the man or if she had happened upon the drowning man and just aided him in dying by increasing the onslaught of water on him. Either way, the response of a person with an unhardened heart would most likely not be either of these things. A normal person would help the man if they saw him drowning or at least leave him alone. The fact that Hannahs response completely differs from the norm affirms her psychopathy. Her decisions in this situation are also affected by her shallow affect or limited range and depth in emotions. All throughout the song itself, it is said that Hannah is hardhearted and colder than an arctic storm. Though the heart itself is a physical muscle pumping blood, it is socially constructed throughout society that the heart is the center of the emotions for the body. People who are warmhearted have a full range of emotion, and may even have extra range for emotions. Thus, the Hard Hearted Hannah has a heart just like a stone and if the heart is connected to emotions, the emotional capacity of a stone. This may seem contradictory to the description of her being the meanest girl in town and being delighted by killing her victims. However, these

two emotions are the only ones that she is capable of, at least according to the people in Savannah. Emotions are not static, with many different shades of each emotion. Hannah cannot access the different shades of emotions, being capable of only the extremes at each end of the emotional spectrum. The second factor is social deviance through the study of different cases. The first item under this factor is the need for stimulation or the need to be continually thrilled, perhaps by doing risky things because of a capacity to get bored easily. This is evidenced in Hannahs delight to tease them and thrill em/ torture and kill em. The use of the word them is plural for him. It says that she needs to find multiple people to keep herself delighted. She is not satisfied with just one, but rather makes it a habit to string these people along and then kill them as a form of entertainment for herself The next item is adult antisocial behavior in which the offender has little concern for others rights and violates the age-appropriate rules and boundaries in society. This may lead to a lack of knowledge concerning social matters and thus problems with being able to socialize with others. Since the song comes from an outsiders perspective, societys view of Hannah is quite clear. Especially in the line of the song, even nice men leave her alone, it can be seen that she is not allowed many opportunities to socialize often with the people of her town. In fact, the assertions that the people enforce on Hannah effectively prevent her from ever socializing normally with the people. Besides this, she shows no concerns for peoples rights, just her own pleasure. As for the criminal justice response or policies that should be implemented, preventive measures should be taken to help stop the crimes. One such measure would be a support group for those who are feeling the need to commit crimes in order to receive some counseling and help for their issues. Another measure would be having a resource center, such as the Child Ab-

duction and Serial Murder Investigative Resources Center, which would have resources and materials to enforce against crime. A non-preventive measure would be to have mental institutions for those with psychological, mental, and other disorders to keep them and everyone around them safe. The story of Hard Hearted Hannah is one of charm, crime, and cold-heartedness. She is described as being an extremely cold femme fatale type who will string men along to be tortured and killed, all for her delight and enjoyment. On the psychopath checklist, much of Hannahs personality aligns with the attributes listed as to why crimes are committed. Thus psychopathy fits the character in the song best as to the reasoning for her motivation to commit crime and preventive policies are best to be put into place to stop crime.

Hard Hearted Hannah lyrics In old Savannah, I said Savannah The weather there is nice and warm The climate's of the southern brand But here's what I don't understand They've got a gal there, a pretty gal there Who's colder than an arctic storm

Got a heart just like a stone Even nice men leave her alone They call her, "Hard hearted Hannah" The vamp of Savannah The meanest gal in town Leather is tough but Hannah's heart is tougher She's a gal who loves to see men suffer To tease them and thrill 'em To torture and kill 'em Is her delight they say I saw her at the seashore with a great big pan There was Hannah pourin' water on a drownin' man She's hard hearted Hannah The vamp of Savannah, G A They call her, "Hard hearted Hannah" The vamp of Savannah The meanest gal in town Talk of your cold refrigerating mamas Brother she's a polar bears pajamas To tease them and thrill 'em To torture and kill 'em Is her delight they say An evening spent with Hannah sitting on your knees Is like travelin' through Alaska in your BVDs She's hard hearted Hannah The vamp of Savannah, G A Can you imagine a woman as cold as Hannah? She's got the right name, "The vamp of Savannah" Anytime a woman can take a great big pan Start pourin' water on a drownin' man

Works Cited

"Femme Fatale." Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 29 Aug. 2012. < fatale>.

Fitzgerald, Ella. Hard Hearted Hannah (The Vamp of Savannah)featured in Warner Bros. CinemaScope Production "Peter Kelley's Blues" By Jack Yellen, Milton Ager, Bob Bigelow, Charles L. Bates, Sammy Cahn, and Ray Heindorf. Decca, 1955. Vinyl recording.

"Hard Hearted Hannah (The Vamp of Savannah)." Hard Hearted Hannah (The Vamp of Savannah). N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Aug. 2012. <>.

"Mental Disorders." Hare Psychopathy Checklist. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Aug. 2012. <>.

"Test for Psychopathy." Test for Psychopathy. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Aug. 2012. <>.

Pushkarna, Natasha. Individual Level-Criminological Theories. Class Lecture. University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA. 22 August 2012.