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A comparison of two short stories from the murder mystery genre

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Introduction

A comparison of two short stories from the murder mystery genre "The Speckled Band" was written in 1892 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle "Lamb To The Slaughter" was written in 1954 by Roald Dahl A murder mystery is a narrative about a murder and how the murderer is discovered. The following things usually happen or are present in a murder mystery: murder, mystery, investigation, red herrings, tension, detective (seeks a solution and unravels the mystery), resolution and justice. Both 'Lamb to the Slaughter' and 'The Speckled Band' are detective murder mysteries. They share some resemblance to the genre but have many differences. In my essay, I will talk about these and say how they affect the story. By reading both stories it is easy to say that the language styles have changed over the eras. 'The Speckled Band' was written in the Victorian period. It uses complex words such as 'defray' and 'dog-cart', which you would not use in the twenty-first century. Some of the sentences are very verbose and stretch from three to four lines long, which is unusual in modern stories. There are phrases like 'said he' which nowadays would be 'he said'. Another example is 'But have you told me all?' A modern way to express this is 'But have you told me everything?' He also uses archaic language as the setting develops. In contrast the language Roald Dahl uses is more modern. ...read more.

Middle

One point in the story when the reader is impressed with Roylott is when it says 'Professional skill and force of character'. Then he has a character flaw. Apart from this, all the points describing Roylotts characteristics show how obnoxious he is. He is a violent man who indulges in 'ferocious quarrels'. 'He beat his native butler to death' and was very lucky to escape a capital sentence. His success came from himself. This was very attractive to Victorians at that time. By creating this image in the reader's mind Doyle has ensured a hatred of the character and has made sure that the reader thinks that Roylott will be the murderer, as he is the stereotype of a Victorian villain. When Dr. Roylott visits Sherlock Holmes we get to see his physical description. He makes a powerful entrance making the reader startled and scared of what he is going to do next. 'A huge man framed himself the aperture'; 'high thin fleshless nose' and 'resemblance to a fierce old bird of prey' builds up tension and shows how Doyle tries to create an image of an evil man. In 'The Lamb to the Slaughter' Dahl creates a different kind of evil. He builds up her character to be warm and genuine. Using quotations like she 'was waiting for her husband to come home from work', 'she took his coat and hung it in the closet' and 'placid look' creates an innocent compassionate wife. ...read more.

Conclusion

I also think that the different eras and the expectations of the different audiences played an important part when the author decided to write the endings. At the time of writing 'The Speckled Band' had an ending which pleased the audience. In 'Lamb to the Slaughter' Dahl does not give enough description. For example 'Simply walked up behind him and without any pause she swung the big frozen leg of lamb high'. However this works in his favour because it helps to strengthen the shock in the readers mind. I had half expected this ending because it was unrealistic. I would not classify 'Lamb to the Slaughter' as a mystery because usually the detective catches the murderer. The title of 'Lamb to the Slaughter' is also linked to the murder and the victims. It is both a pun and a warning. Lamb means both the piece of meat used for slaughter and an innocent victim. Although both stories have many differences, one thing I managed to find out was that they both use irony to make their final point. In 'The Speckled Band' Dr. Roylott is killed by his own weapon. Similarly in 'Lamb to the Slaughter' the detectives eat the evidence. All these differences are due to the fact that the stories were written one hundred years apart by different authors with different styles and had different expectations. If Holmes had been the detective investigating Mr. Maloney's death, would he have consumed the evidence or would he have drunk the whisky...? Niroshun Nadesalingam 1 1 ...read more.

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