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Compare 'Lamb to the Slaughter' and 'The Speckled Band'.

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Introduction

'Lamb to the Slaughter' and 'The Speckled Band' are both stories based around a suspicious death. Roald Dahl wrote 'Lamb to the Slaughter' in 1954. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote 'The Speckled Band' in 1892. Because of the times when they were written, the language is different also. Conan Doyle uses the Victorian style of language. His writing is more complex. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's language is more descriptive. It takes him about half a page just to describe the setting of the story. Conan Doyle sometimes uses phrases, which can now be quite tricky to understand such as 'knock you up'. This is archaic language, which is not regularly used nowadays. Roald Dahl uses short but sharp sentences, and writes as if he is talking to a friend. In 'Lamb to the Slaughter' there is a couple who seem content and loving. Mary is heavily pregnant. One day her husband comes home from work and breaks some devastating news. He is in fact having an affair. She doesn't know how to react to this, so she hits her husband with a frozen leg of lamb around the back of his head. It knocks him over, and kills him. ...read more.

Middle

'The speckled Band' is a completely different setting, because Sir Arthur Conan Doyle describes Stoke Moran. He gives us a very good detailed description. The building was 'Grey, lichen-blotched stone' It seams very deadly and a little bit grotty, two curving wings 'Like the claws of a crab' This makes you feel trapped, and threatened. Windows were broken. This shows the house was not very well maintained it was a 'Picture of ruin'. There is a link between the state of the house and the residents. In fact the lack of repair was part of the murderer's plan in forcing the two female residents into a room next to his own. The Maloney's house is very orderly, organized and a very pleasant place to be, and everything seems to have its own place, which is a link to Mary who is very happy and pleasant. As for Stoke Moran it is 'a picture of ruin' not a nice place to be it seams very creepy and unwelcoming which is a link to Dr Roylott as he is very evil and not a very pleasant person. He doesn't seem to think about or care for anyone but himself. The characters in both stories are different but also have things in common. ...read more.

Conclusion

In 'The Speckled Band' the emotions are all very high; people scream, cry and shout. The murder weapon is an exotic snake and the method used involved months of preparation and planning. In the years between Roald Dahl and Conan Doyle things have changed. Our sense of what is just and fair, is now more complicated and we know that we live in a world where we do not know how things should end. We can accept endings, which might be unfair. In 'The Speckled Band' the story ends with a simple ending but one, which I think is fair. Dr Roylatt's murder weapon in fact kills himself. Although the two stories seem very different it is odd that both stories use irony to make their final point. In the Speckled Band it is ironic that the murderer is killed by his own murder weapon and in 'Lamb to the Slaughter' it is ironic that the detectives eat the evidence. Perhaps irony is a very English thing. What brings the stories together is the way they use irony. How might an American or French person have told the same story? It seems odd that two stories both aimed at different age groups. Roald Dahl's audience is normally children, and Conan Doyle wrote for adults. One story ends with a clean and reassuring justice, 'The Speckled Band', the other ends with complications. ...read more.

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