Reinforces a notion - that people are just animals - through the ages and generations they dress and talk differently and have different technologies to play with, but basic behaviour doesn't change. You'll always get those ones that will do something extraordinary.
Brings up other thoughts like - how society/environment conditions a person, how some people think they can control others, how some people can't control themselves, how some people are just dumb and others are just plain nuts. (I have to go on about this) - how some people are strong, and how the will to live is amazingly inherent.
These themes have resurfaced time and again across different cultural histories - so an old saying is true in my head - we are all the same. (Some nicer than others).
Having ranted on that I have to look on the flip side - bad, sad stories are a shocking jolt. A reminder to be fair to others, to respect them and always try and look at the bigger picture.
My most hated word in the English language is: (tada): CRUEL
OK can't leave on that note now, can I? How about an illustration....
That's better... time for a cuppa :)