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Compare the two approaches to the detective story as shown in "The Speckled Band" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and "Lamb to the Slaughter" by Roald Dahl.

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Introduction

February 2001 Wider Reading Maryanne Parker Mrs Anderson Compare the two approaches to the detective story as shown in "The Speckled Band" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and "Lamb to the Slaughter" by Roald Dahl. Both of these short stories, "Lamb to the Slaughter" by Roald Dahl and "The Speckled Band" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, are written by very famous authors. They are also both detective stories. However apart from this they have very little in common. Although both stories do reflect the language and customs of the era in which they were written. The woman's roles, for example, reflect the times in which the stories were written. In Lamb to the Slaughter Mary Maloney is a typical 1950's housewife, she tries to please her husband by fetching drinks, hanging up his coat and feeling anxious of his dinner. "She took his coat and hung it in the closet." Similarly the role of Helen Stoner is very much of a 'damsel in distress' who requires male assistance. She has no money or access to it until after marriage. She also has no means of escape from Dr Roylett except through marriage. She is possible still mourning for her sister "A lady dressed in black and heavily veiled" this is not unusual for the 1890's. ...read more.

Middle

The reader feels dislike for him. His motive is greed, he should be caught. Both characters are clever. Mary Maloney because she knew that she had to believe her self to be innocent in order to convince others, "'hullo Sam' she said brightly out loud" and Doctor Roylett was clever in his elaborate planning. The victims are Patrick Maloney in Lamb to the Slaughter and Helen Stoner in the Speckled Band. Julia Stoner is also a victim but her death occurs before the beginning of the story and we do not know much about her. A similarity between Helen Stoner and Patrick Maloney is that neither victim was essentially a bad person, although the husband in Lamb to the Slaughter was quite callous to be leaving his devoted wife when she was six months pregnant. A difference is that in Lamb to the Slaughter there is not a danger of Mary Maloney killing again whereas in the Speckled Band Helen is still a potential victim. Helen is possibly suspicious of Dr. Roylett as she went to see Sherlock Holmes without him knowing. Helen is a secretive person, "...Have you told me all?" "Yes, all." "Miss Stoner, you have not." ...read more.

Conclusion

"Mary Maloney was waiting for her husband to come home from work." The ending of the story shows this. At the end of Lamb to the Slaughter the reader is wondering what happens next unlike in The Speckled Band. The ending also adds a touch of humour. "Mary Maloney began to giggle." This could indicate relief because she feels she has escaped capture. On the other hand it could be a response to the stress off the day. Or perhaps she felt that something was wrong in her marriage and was pleased that things worked out for her. She was not really pleased that her husband was dead. If she were the short story would have been too cold and sinister. Lamb to the Slaughter and The Speckled Band were both enjoyable to read, and were well written. However Lamb to the Slaughter was more realistic than The Speckled Band -a snake in a safe? - A baboon and a cheeter on the premises? It was also easier to read and more humorous. Sherlock Holmes was infallible one feels that he would have solved the crime in Lamb to the Slaughter had he been on the case. However he is more prone to catching thorough villains rather than pregnant women who are being deserted by their husbands. ...read more.

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