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Both 'Lamb to the Slaughter' and 'The Speckled Band' share some characteristics of murder mysteries. What are the similarities and differences between the two stories?

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Introduction

Both 'Lamb to the Slaughter' and 'The Speckled Band' share some characteristics of murder mysteries. What are the similarities and differences between the two stories? I this essay I am going to compare two short stories. 'The Speckled Band' by Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle and 'The Lamb to the Slaughter' by Roald Dahl. There are both many similarities and difference between these two stories. Though some similarities/differences are obvious and easy to spot, there are also some less obvious similarities/differences. The first difference we can see is the setting. 'In Lamb to the Slaughter', the main setting is in a quiet, warm house. 'The room was warm and clean, the curtains drawn, the two table lamps alight - hers and the one by the empty chair opposite.' This description tells us about how the house is appealing to be in. Also, by saying the 'empty chair opposite' you can gather that there is another character in the story, to which she is waiting for. The time period is a post 20th Century America (1954, about 10 years after the Second World War.) However, the main setting in 'The Speckled Band' is the complete opposite. 'The building was of grey, lichen-blotched stone, with a high central portion, and two curving wings, like the claws of a crab, thrown out on each side.' This gives a foreboding atmosphere, which could be used to en-still fear into readers. ...read more.

Middle

Roylott is a violent man. This statement is backed up later on in the story, '...seized the poker, and bent it into a curve...' As you can see, he is a very violent man who uses his strength to make people afraid of him. With this description you get the idea that Roylott is a secluded man. As said earlier on, Mary Maloney is not your typical murderer. However, Dr. Roylott can be considered as a typical murderer, large, violent and able to do such a thing. The other character described greatly is Helen Stoner. 'She was indeed in a pitiful state of agitation. Her face all drawn and grey, with restless frightened eyes like those of a hunted animal. Her features and figure were those of a woman of thirty but her hair was shot with premature grey and expression was weary and hagged.' Helen is the sister of Julia Stoner. Throughout the story, Helen is Holmes guide and tells him various things that he needs to know about the Stoke and her sister's death. This means that she plays an important role. Though both of these stories are murder mysteries, the way that they are structured is very different. In 'Lam to the Slaughter' the way the story unravels is in a 'whodunit' sense. What this means that that we know, who did it. The interest is kept by other means. ...read more.

Conclusion

In 'Lamb to the Slaughter' colloquial English is used. This is slang or a more modern way of talking. In 'The Speckled Band' the language used is very much archaic, '...for working as he did rather for the love of his art than for the acquirement of wealth, he refused to associate himself with any investigation which did not tend towards the unusual, and even the fantastic.' This use of archaic words and phrases can be difficult for modern readers to understand, as it is often more complicated than in modern tense. The sentence length in 'The Speckled Band' is long and drawn out. The first sentence is very long and it presents much factually and situational information which is intended to 'whet' the readers appetite and encourage them to read further. 'Of all these varied cases, however, I cannot recall any which presented more singular features than...' This is a very long sentence which makes readers wonder as to what the writer might be referring to. This will then encourage you to read on. Although 'Lamb to the Slaughter' does not use archaic language, it does however use colloquial speech. '...well I might take just a drop to keep me going.' This is a noticeable change to the language in 'The Speckled Band' but is much easier to understand and relate to. The similarities in these two stories are far and few. The only obvious similarity is that they both include murders. Now whilst some people may say that this is a stupid statement, it is true. Often the most simplistic of things can be the right answer. ...read more.

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