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"Compare the way in which Helen Stoner and Mary Maloney are treated in the two stories

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Introduction

"Compare the way in which Helen Stoner and Mary Maloney are treated in the two stories. They are innocent and guilty players, but how are they represented by their respective authors?" This essay will consist of a study of the short story, 'The Speckled Band' by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle written in 1292. Short stories are condensed fictional narratives, which have been popular since the nineteenth century and still remain so today. They typically concern a relatively small number of characters involved in a single event or situation. There is usually only one thermatic focus, aimed at provoking a single emotional response from the reader. Short stories may be created or written for magazine articles but have also developed into a real significant work of prose fiction. The dialogue is used very carefully in a short story due to a lack of space for extended development of conversation and narrative. The length of short stories vary. The two story I will be looking at is from the murder mystery genre. This is a category in itself. Murder mysteries hold certain connotations that we constantly associate with the genre, for example, a detective, a victim, a culprit and often believers. The narrative is often concentrated around an investigation, but may offer a variety of view points i.e. from the detectives point view, from the victims point of view, or from the murderers point of view. ...read more.

Middle

Helen is tired, sad, frightened, 'haggered', unhealthy and single, and has been for a long time. She has no-one to turn to, "Her features and face were those of a young woman of thirty but her hair was shot with premature grey." Although there are a lot of differences between the two stories, the structure of the two is quite similar due to the fact that both Helen and Mary are in similar, delicate situations, that need careful consideration. Both stories have a strong female character all be them, having different strengths. Mrs. Maloney has physical strength as she killed her husband but she doesn't have courage as she didn't own up to it. She is hurt by what Mr. Maloney has told her, provoking an irrational response causing her to swing the frozen leg of lamb at him. She is very strong, "She might just as well have hit him with a steel club." Mary is very rational and doesn't panick, she takes careful steps to cover her tracks. She is very methodical and because her husband was a detective, she knows exactly what to do, "As the wife of a detective, she knew quite well what the penalty would be." Mrs. Maloney cooks the lamb, rehearsed an act for the grocer and left the house. When she comes back, phones the police and the conclusion is ironic as the police eat the evidence. ...read more.

Conclusion

Helen Stoner, however, is asked open ended questions because Holmes and Watson need to know every last detail about the situation. Helen has gone to them so they don't know each other, this is their first meeting together. She is asked very formal questions but with care and respect. The detectives are more interested and serious and cover all areas. Miss Stoner answers questions to the best of her knowledge. "And now I beg that you will lay before us everything that may help us in forming an opinion upon the matter." By looking at the two stories, 'Lamb to Slaughter' and 'The Speckled Band', it has come to me a lot clearer, the changes between the ways in which people lived in different societies and behaved in different times. Their, behaviour and language, also speech, has dramatically changed over time. It also shows us how similar people are and the way they still cling to hope and react in different situations. I personally like 'Lamb to Slaughter'. I think this is because it suits my age better and I can relate to the period more. I feel that 'Speckled Band' was written for older people as it contains complex language and a more detailed narrative to follow. The language in Roald Dahl's story was in my opinion , more open and the narrative was clear. Although both stories had their assets, my preference was 'Lamb to Slaughter'. ...read more.

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