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Both 'The Speckled Band" and "Lamb to the Slaughter" use the ingredients of detective fiction but in very different ways. Compare the way the authors have written the stories to achieve different effects.

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Alex Swift 10WW 13.4.2000 GCSE Wide Reading Assignment Both 'The Speckled Band" and "Lamb to the Slaughter" use the ingredients of detective fiction but in very different ways. Compare the way the authors have written the stories to achieve different effects. Detective fiction stories have been around for centuries and have developed in a very broad sense, with some remaining traditional and others having a comic style. The plot would centre around the detective investigating the case, who in the early years of detective fiction writing would more likely have been a strong brave male. Over the years we have seen many different investigating characters such as Agatha Christies Miss Marples and dashing duos such as Starsky and Hutch. In the early years of detective fiction stories like "The Speckled Band" were written. They followed the traditional style with the detective seriously investigating the crime, following clues methodically and using all means to solve the crimes. We would often see the victim as a defenseless female and the villain as a bullying male who would not be identified till the end, building up to an exciting conclusion with the all conquering hero cracking the case. As detective fiction progressed some writers adapted a different style of writing discarding the usual stereotypical characters, setting and plot. "Lamb to the Slaughter" is a perfect example of this. ...read more.


Throughout "The Speckled Band" Conan Doyle builds up the suspense adding clues and other factors gradually building up the readers knowledge. This slower approach creates time and conjures up many images for the reader. "Lamb to the Slaughter" throws the reader straight into the story and reveals the murdereress immediately. Dahl completely ignores traditional methods creating a comical and ironic mood when the murdress manipulates the detectives into eating the murder weapon, the leg of lamb. Dahl's subtle use of language adds to the readers perception of the stupid detectives when he describes their voices as "thick and Sloppy" because their mouths were full of meat. This adds to the comical ridiculous image of the detectives. This contrasts strongly to the efficient, effective sharp image portrayed by Sherlock Holmes. The characters in the two stories are presented very differently. The murderer's Doctor Grimesby Roylott and Mary Maloney could not be more opposite. Grimesby Roylott is the stereotypical villain described has having "violence of temper approaching to mania" that had been hereditary in the men in his family. He was the terror of the village and had immense strength and uncontrollable anger.He had experienced a troubled past. His evil intentions had been carefully planned he was a cold and calculating man. Mary Maloney is a kind and caring woman respected in her community as we see when the shopkeeper addresses her as "Mrs Maloney" her crime is totally unplanned although we see her react to what has happened and calmly build her defence. ...read more.


This is a most fitting ending for a spellbinding traditional story. The authors have presented each story very differently. We see contrasting plots characters, settings, language and style of writing all adding to the varied overall effectiveness. "Lamb to the Slaughter" is written in a very simple language with little suspense but in a way that shocks when the murder happens and Mary Maloney conducts herself as she does. The story is rather comical and has an ironic twist leaving the reader without a firm conclusion. The title holds a dual meaning, the zany and the sad, reflecting the nature of the story. In contrast "The Speckled Band" is a gripping story where the author builds up the suspense by introducing new clues and characters with depth. The author uses first person narrative which makes the reader feel involved in the story and adds to the interest. Even the title gives an air of mystery making the reader want to investigate. I prefer "The Speckled Band" because it is a more structured story full of suspense and dignity. I like the authors use of descriptive language to create different moods. The story although traditional, is not predictable. The snake as a murder weapon adds an effective twist to the story. I enjoyed the way the story was written it made me feel involved in unraveling the mystery. I particularly enjoyed Holmes summing up the case and felt the story was brought to a satisfactory conclusion. ...read more.

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