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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 story you think is more compelling to read.

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Saturday 25th January 2003 By Rachel Glendenning 10A 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 story you think is more compelling to read. The two short stories I have studied are identified above; they both have similarities and differences. "Lamb to the slaughter" written by Roald Dahl an 1954, is quite a modern story. Where as "The speckled band", written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was written in 1892, some 62 years earlier, and so it was written in the Victorian era. This is one of the main differences, time they are both murder mysteries, but one is modern the other is quite old. "Lamb to the slaughter" is about a seemingly sane, pregnant lady, who in a moment of pure passion and emotion kills her husband. But, on the other hand, "The speckled band" is about a money Hungary stepfather of a Miss Helen Stoner, who's deceased twin sisters memory is close at hand, and certain similarities that occurred before her death, are occurring to her and she is scared for her own life. At the beginning of "lamb to the slaughter," the mood is one of love; it is normal, a typical family home- Husband and wife with child. The writer describes how the room was "warm and clean, the curtains drawn, the two table lamps alight..." ...read more.


She even stood to kiss him as he came through the door. This is totally different to the image of Dr. Grimesby Roylott, who actually appears as though he could murder his stepdaughters. Mary Maloney doesn't seem at all capable of murdering her husband up until the actual time of the murder. She loved everything about her husband, maybe so much she didn't want him to leave her, we don't really know what he told her, we can only guess this is what it was. It explains (later on) how she got frightened with her husbands abnormal behaviour. When he tells her his 'news' she rejects it, he drifts away from her, she is shocked but was still in her normal state of mind, normal mode, but shocked. Mary Maloney "at that point" did the deed. I think she did this because of her husband's rejection; it was an act of pure passion, raw emotion. I don't think she meant to kill him, just injure him, but after the blow Dahl wrote, "she stepped back a pace, waiting." So did she mean to kill him? I'm still not convinced, but her twisted mind does the rest for her, it turns in to the mind much like Roylott's, deep and twisted, a criminals mind. She plans her moves from there on, she even makes sure her image is normal before going to the grocers. She had to let her mind take control, for the baby's sake, "She didn't know and wasn't prepared to take a chance," on her baby's life. ...read more.


But with the vision of Roylott and the vision of wild animals roaming around freely, this is soon crushed. In contrast, "Lamb to the slaughter" is not set in so many different locations. It is set mainly in the living room of Mary Maloney's home, where she murdered Patrick, her husband, and so where the police conducted most of their enquires. Though it is also, at part, set in the grocers where Mary Maloney sets up an alibi, in Sam the grocer, and gives him no suspicions, leaving no hints, that she in fact was the one who murdered her husband. The attitudes of the policemen, I would say, indicated the time in which this story was set. They have sloppy attitudes towards the case and this is shown as at the end when they are offered the lamb/ murder weapon they take it, and so are left with no solid evidence, or no murder weapon. The settings are odd for the murder in "lamb to the slaughter" as it is a warm, loving place, and everything looked normal, like a typical night to any person. I believe the homely atmosphere did help Mary secure an alibi, as she was going to cook tea and everything was prepared for their meal. Meat in the oven and everything prepared. Mary Maloney's home does not really symbolise to me a typical murder scene, she has kept it clean and tidy, as she knew her husband was soon to return from work. It was far to cosy and warm for me to imagine it as a murder scene. A* ...read more.

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