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Both "Lamb to the Slaughter" and "The Speckled Band" Share some of the characteristics of murder mysteries. Explain the similarities and differences between the two stories. And say which of the two you find more compelling.

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Both "Lamb to the Slaughter" and "The Speckled Band" Share some of the characteristics of murder mysteries. Explain the similarities and differences between the two stories And say which of the two you find more compelling. Arthur Conan Doyle, author of "The Speckled Band," wrote his story in 1892. Roald Dahl, author of "Lamb to the Slaughter," wrote his story in 1954. Straightaway there is a definite difference in the stories; one was written 62 years after the other. This major time gap will obviously affect the way they were written. I will take this into account in this essay. "The Speckled Band" is a typical murder mystery, involving an eccentric doctor and a cunning detective. "Lamb to the Slaughter" is about an impulsive murder of a man by his wife, when he tells her that he is leaving her. "Lamb to the Slaughter" begins with a happy, heart-warming scene of Mary Maloney sat waiting for her husband to return from work. "The room was warm and clean, the curtains drawn, the two table lamps alight." It tells the reader how in love she is, and she seems peaceful and contented as she sews. It appears like domestic bliss. It seems extremely unlikely for that home to be the scene of a murder, as it appears to be so tranquil. As the murder is at the beginning of the story, it leaves the reader in suspense - will the detective catch Mary? Or will she get away with it? ...read more.


Watson also seems very much under Holmes' spell, and is in awe of his detective associate. Conan Doyle used Holmes because at the time, the London Police Force were extremely inefficient at their jobs, and the character of Sherlock Holmes, the successful detective was a sort of 'idol' for people to look up to, believe in and have respect for. The methods Holmes used were the only ones available at the time, and he did not have luxuries such as autopsies, post mortems and fingerprints. Instead, Holmes used his natural instinct and his powers of observation and deduction. Roald Dahl, however, shows how even with a full team of specialists to hand, the most simple of unplanned murders can be easily overlooked. Noonan missed the lamb as a weapon because firstly it was no longer in the state it was when it was used as a weapon, i.e. not frozen, therefore not an obvious choice. Secondly he would automatically assume that it had been bought fresh from the butchers that day, as the use of freezers as a domestic appliance was a relatively new idea. "Lamb to the Slaughter" is set somewhere in England, but there is no indication as to where about. The book was published in 1954, and the story is set at the same time. It is clear from the story that it is the fifties, with the husband going to work as the breadwinner of the family, while the wife stays at home to cook and clean, being the stereotypical housewife. ...read more.


This sets the tone for the rest of the story, indicating that this is the pattern which the story will follow from now on. "Lamb to the Slaughter," however, is aimed at a much wider audience. In contrast, the sentences used are varied in structure, containing briefer and less complex descriptions, for example when Patrick tells his wife that he is leaving her, his words are not told to the reader, only afterwards is the fact discreetly revealed. The stories are similar as each one contains a murder or death in some form, and as far as the storyline goes that is about the only similarity; apart from the actual process of solving the crime, which greatly differs in each story anyway. The language in "The Speckled Band" is archaic, compared to the modern, colloquial language used by Dahl. Conan Doyle uses words such as 'defray' and 'fain,' words which are definitely not used today and are not recognised in our vocabulary. The descriptions are long and drawn out, compared to the brief and to the point ones Dahl uses. "Lamb to the Slaughter" is not stereotypical of any particular genre, but is different altogether, in a league of it's own. The theme of the plot is also lighter and in places more jovial than Conan Doyle's, and there are a few instances where we can laugh at Dahl's ironic situations. "Lamb to the Slaughter" is a much more appealing story to me, as it is shorter and easy to understand. Much of the language used by Conan Doyle is too archaic for the younger generation to understand and take an interest in. ...read more.

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