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Compare the Two Short Stories, 'The Speckled Band' And 'Lamb To The Slaughter'.

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English Wider Reading Coursework. Hayley Pearcy 11GIo Compare the Two Short Stories, 'The Speckled Band' And 'Lamb To The Slaughter'. INTRODUCTION. The two short stories that I am going to compare in this essay are both written in different eras. The first, 'Lamb To The Slaughter' was written by Roald Dahl in 1954. His stories mainly contained ordinary people doing strange and different things. The second, 'The Speckled Band' was written by Arthur Conan Doyle in 1892. He was famous for writing the traditional detective story and this is no exception. It is accurate to say that the two different eras in which these stories were written reflect in the content of the stories themselves although portraying a rather different image in each one. 'Lamb To The Slaughter' has been clearly influenced by the 1950's era where there was a growing affluence and in this story there is a perceptible emphasis on household items which reflects this such as 'The thermos bucket' which is mentioned in the very first paragraph and also the 'freezer' and 'cooker' which are mentioned further on. Also there is a reference to the upper class lifestyle, which also links to the rising affluence. This is demonstrated in the drinking of whisky and soda when Mr Maloney arrives home from work and also the ritual of eating out on Thursday nights, something that the lower class would never be able to finance. Also a rather modern thing brought about in the 1950's was the questioning of such things as marriage. Although it is not revealed in words, we can guess that Mr Maloney was asking to leave his wife, so the story reflects one of the household issues around at the time. There is also the poor authority of the police force. In the story, the police are ridiculed for being incompetent and foolish. Mary Maloney is portrayed as having the upper hand on them therefore be able to manipulate them to her advantage making them eat the murder weapon so as to eradicate all the evidence. ...read more.


The use of flashbacks helps give a wider picture of the case when Helen is reliving the memory of the death of her sister. It helps to keep the reader interested in the plot. In 'Lamb To The Slaughter' the 3rd person narrator is Mary Maloney. We are shown inside the mind of Mary and all of her thoughts feelings and actions. 'She couldn't feel anything at all' This kind of chronological narration makes us feel closer to Mary so when she murders her husband we are shocked as me have been inside this woman's head but we did not get even a slight hint that she was going to do something like this or even be capable of it. After the murder has taken place we are rapt to finding out how this woman is going to handle what she has just done and if there are any more surprises waiting for us. It is unusual and unconventional for a detective story to be narrated by the murderer themselves. In 'The Speckled Band', clues and red herrings are introduced to us in the traditional way. The gypsy's Bandana is used as a red herring for the speckled band. In 'Lamb To The Slaughter' the characterisation and whom the reader relates to is manipulated to create one big red herring. It creates shock and surprise when the reader realizes the truth instead of simply realisation. The suspense and tension of both stories is a vital ingredient. It engages the reader. Both the authors have different intentions when considering suspense. They go about it in different Hayley Pearcy 11GIo manners. The tone of 'The Speckled Band' it that of adventure, thrill excitement and danger, 'Your very life may depend upon it' The plan of the pre-arranged signal at midnight and the threat of Dr Roylott realising their plan also helps to create this atmosphere and then the silent wait for the murderer to be revealed creates suspense. ...read more.


In the 1950's people were embracing originality so Dahl's story was a success. 'The Speckled Band' follows tradition in it's ending, this is what makes it predictable. The one twist put in to appeal to the reader is that Dr Roylott dies. We are not expecting this but it follows the structure of tradition by concluding the story in a sufficient way as to satisfy all the reader's queries and tie up any loose ends. The issue of the speckled band is revealed to be a snake other than the gypsies. The fixed bed whistling at night and dummy bell pull are revealed as necessities of Dr Roylott's murder method and justice wins. In 'Lamb To The Slaughter' questions are left unanswered such as what were the reasons for Mary Maloney's sudden murder? Justice is not taken, this is the twist but instead of simply interesting the reader it shocks them, as it is so unconventional. A conclusion is not come to. Both the main characters, Mary Maloney and Holms have the last words in each of the story. They can be used as an example of how individual the two stories are from each other. Holmes' last words are, 'I am in no doubt indirectly responsible for Dr Grimsby Roylott's death, and I cannot say that it is likely to weigh very heavily upon my conscience.' Mary concludes with a giggle. They leave the readers thinking very different things. In Holmes' case we are left with a satisfied feeling, our hero has won. We look up to him, as he is so passive towards the fact that he has just indirectly murdered someone and he seems an ideal figure of authority. When reading the final comment on Mary Maloney we become questioning towards her sanity, questioning of whether she will stay clear of blame and questioning of her motives. We are also questioning ourselves as to if we are correct in believing Mary should have got away with the murder. We are left thoughtful of the story and unsatisfied that a conclusion has not been given to us. ...read more.

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