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Comparing 'Lamb to the Slaughter' written in the mid-twentieth century, and 'The Speckled Band' written in the 19th century.

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Introduction

Comparative Writing We have been reading 'Lamb to the Slaughter' written in the mid-twentieth century, and 'The Speckled Band' written in the 19th century. The authors both came from different time periods so different events at the particular time in which they were about would have had some influence on their writing. The stories are both about murders being committed, although one of the murders in a particular story until the end. Whereas, 'Lamb to the Slaughter' isn't a mystery at all. The murderer Mary Maloney takes us through it. I think it is like this because in the time periods that the stories are set in, reflect on what was appropriate in a story and what an audience would want from a story. When you think of a murder mystery type story, or a setting, they think of a dark and maybe a stormy night, a large scary looking house, a gunshot heard by all the characters but no-one actually seeing the gun being fired, that type of thing. Then at the end you expect a typical type ending and it all being figured out by the detectives, this is how these stories are very different from one another. The mood at the start of each story is one in which you wouldn't suspect a murder to be committed, although at the beginning of the Speckled Band you have the author giving the readers a background, it's then that we start to see what the story involves only not in too much detail. In "The Speckled Band", the setting of the main part of the story is very typical of the murder mystery story. The story is set in an old scary house. Just the look of it could make you think twice about going inside; because, it could collapse on you any moment, as Dr Watson described. 'In one of the wings the windows were broken, and blocked with wooden boards, while the roof was partly caved in, a picture of ruin.' ...read more.

Middle

When the detectives come she seems either totally in control of the situation and trying to cover it up, or in shock or denial. I think she is a bit of both at this point in the story. Throughout the police investigation, she acts totally innocent, unlike Dr Roylott. She talks the detectives into having a drink of whiskey in the hope they wont think as fast, making them not realise that when they are sat at the table, they are eating the murder weapon. She almost seems as if she has done this before. Her intelligence and ability to cover her tracks well make her more like a murderer. As for victims, Conan-Doyle makes the most typical character in Helen Stoner. The typical victim in a murder mystery is a person, usually a woman when the murderer is as typical as Dr Roylott, and almost always rich. Firstly, she is a woman obviously, and a scared one, 'It is not cold which makes me shiver... It is terror'. It is revealed that Helen Stoner is about to come into a fairly large amount. She says that an agreement was made whereby all her mothers fortune was to go to Dr Roylott, 'with a provision that a certain annual sum should be allowed to each of us in the event of our marriage', then later reveals that she will be marrying 'a dear friend, whom I have known for many years' Later in the plot, Holmes uncovers the will of Helen Stoner's mother, and finds out 'each daughter can claim an income of �250, in case of marriage.' So, we now know that after Helen Stoner's wedding, Dr Roylott would have had to given her �250 per year. In Conan-Doyle's story, 'The Speckled Band' centres around the detective- the original typical detective- Sherlock Holmes, whereas in Dahl's 'Lamb to the Slaughter', the detectives, led by Jack Noonan, play a small ending role in the story. ...read more.

Conclusion

I think Lamb to The Slaughter ending shocked me a bit when she started giggling, it indicated that she has maybe gone a bit mad. The Speckled Band ending was a surprise about the snake although the audience suspected Dr Roylott was capable of murder. The endings help us understand the titles of the stories because "The Speckled Band" was referring to the snake that Dr Roylott used to kill one of his daughters and then himself accidentally. Lamb to the Slaughter was referring to the Leg of Lamb that the husband was killed with. I enjoyed The Speckled Band more, I like murder mysteries, it adds to the suspense because it makes us want to keep reading, it makes the story more interesting, rather than just telling us what happens as it happens. I liked the style to, as it was written by a first person prospective, we are told everything that the inspectors see, which I think makes good writing. In my opinion, The Speckled Band is more compelling because it fits the murder mystery genre more and that's what I like, and of course the use of first person perspective. There are quite a lot of differences between these stories, initially with the way they are written, how the murder happens and why it happens. Although there are some similarities too. They are both unusual murders and both for a silly reason in my opinion. They are both successful too; well Dr Roylott would have probably got away with it, had he not been himself killed. Stories have changed a lot from Victorian times to modern times, i.e. horror stories are no longer confined to dark, scary, remote houses, and suspicious characters, Dahl proved that even the most unlikely a murderer can kill. Stories are written from a different perspective, given a new look, and detectives that aren't quite as sharp. Both stories were well written even though they were quite different. I do think however that murder stories should be written when the audience knows just about as much as the story characters. Charlotte Pooley ...read more.

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