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A comparison between 'Lamb to the Slaughter' by Roald Dahl and 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens.

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Introduction

A comparison between 'Lamb to the Slaughter' by Roald Dahl and 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens The opening scene of the signalman consists of wide-open spaces and lots of description to give you the feeling of desolation and isolation. This is emphasised by people on trains going past, getting on with their lives whilst he is stuck in a rut at this signal post. The signalman in the title is physically and mentally alone. He fills up his time with learning. In comparison the opening scene in Lamb to the Slaughter is a domestic scene but still one of loneliness. The main character, Mary, is very much alone. In the book the author focuses in on things like the clock, to emphasise the passage of time or the curtains. This emphasises the passing of time and the loneliness that Mary would be feeling at this point waiting for her husband to come home. The signalman is set outside with huge fields and rain to emphasise the loneliness whilst Lamb to the slaughter is set indoors but both the characters of the signalman and Mary are very much alone. ...read more.

Middle

This is mirrored by the way that the signalman feels that he is loosing control of the situation. Dahl does not give a certain place or time for the setting of Lamb to the Slaughter. This could be done on purpose as it is more a story of human nature than one of a place or time. The environment is domestic and Mary controls it. This is mirrored in her actions in the story because Mary is very much in control of the events going on around her in the same way as she has control over her environment. There is no difference in class between Mary and Patrick although Mary respects Patrick a great deal. There is no difference in class between Mary and Sam the shopkeeper, as they appear to speak to each other as equals. This could indicate a more contemporary setting as in Victorian times the shopkeeper would have been on a lower social footing than a police officers wife. ...read more.

Conclusion

Women only are really acknowledged to write children's books or slushy romantic novels. Both books seem to have a scorn for modern science. In the signalman this is demonstrated by the fact that although the train was the height of scientific development, it still crash. This shows a lack of faith in progress and science by Dickens. This is backed up by the narrator's belief in the ghost even though he states that there must be a logical explanation. In Lamb to the Slaughter this is demonstrated by the way that Mary outwits all the modern forensic tests by cooking the murder weapon. In conclusion, Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl and The signalman by Charles dickens both have similar points. In both the environment mirrors the control that the main character has over proceedings. They both seem to have distrust for modern scientific developments. However they both have many differences as well. The social structure differs as does the main characters degree of control. The overall theme of both the stories is also different with the main theme of one being the supernatural and the other being about human nature. ...read more.

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