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Comparing the Build up of Suspense in "Lamb to the Slaughter" and "The Speckled Band".

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Comparing the Build up of Suspense in "Lamb to the Slaughter" and "The Speckled Band" "Lamb to the Slaughter", written by Roald Dahl in the mid 20th century and "The Speckled Band", written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the late 19th century, both use techniques to build up suspense found common among crime stories. However, whereas "The Speckled Band" has all of the elements of a classic crime story, clues, detectives, murder, mystery, resolution and victims "Lamb to the Slaughter" does not, "Lamb to the Slaughter" is without the element of resolution, although this does not dramatically effect the build up suspense as the murderer is almost caught. To analyse suspense first we must understand what it is. A definition of suspense: state of uncertainty, especially while awaiting news, an event etc.; anxiety, worry. Within all crime stories a crime must take place, hence the name of the genre. When there is a suspicious situation, the reader's mind automatically thinks of the most negative possible outcome of the situation, this is human nature. Human nature in conjunction with the fact that a crime must take place creates anxiety and worry in a situation where the outcome is uncertain this causes the reader to read out of curiosity, which builds up suspense. Dahl uses particular techniques to create suspense in "Lamb to the Slaughter", to keep the reader on the edge of their seat and keep them guessing what shall happen next. ...read more.


Grimsby Roylott is a violent man who has killed in the past: He is a man of immense strength and absolutely uncontrollable in his anger." Suspense is limited, however it is still at quite a high level. Mentioning murder in conjunction with mystery it is enough to send the suspense levels racing, like dropping a drop of blood in a pool full of piranha, there is the slight taste of flesh but no actual meat, yet the piranha are set on a frenzy. The mystery is: "How did Julia Stoner die?" The main suspect, Dr. Roylott is a violent character that is capable of murder. However no one was to be seen as Julia Stoner died. Suspense steadily rises throughout the explanation of Helen Stoner's situation, as it was identical of that of Julia Stoner before she died, it as if she was describing the hole she was in, with every sentence she said the deeper the hole became. Suspense is low during the process where Holmes tries to find a solution to solving what is happening in the Stoke Moran household as this is mainly the analysis of clues such as the ventilation shaft that does not ventilate. However this is where interest from the reader peaks as the reader them self attempts to solve the mystery. ...read more.


By the mid 20th century, in which Dahl wrote 'Lamb to the Slaughter', women's equality was being firmly established and there was belief that it was plausible to commit crime without being caught. This was reflected by Dahl in 'The Lamb to the Slaughter', in which, butter wouldn't melt in her mouth Mary Maloney, a female character, committed murder, perverted the course of justice and was not prosecuted. A fundamental difference between the two, perhaps influenced by their times, is how the stories captivate the audience into, in 'The Speckled Band', wanting the resolution of the mystery and capture of the culprit, and in 'The Lamb to the Slaughter', we wish for Mary Maloney, murderer, to evade justice and not get caught. In conclusion, I believe that suspense is not created by the writer, but in fact by the reader's mind. Readers assume the worst possible outcome of a situation, as this is just an assumption and the reader is unsure what actually happens, anxiety and a chance to put their minds at ease drives them to read on. Suspense is merely a tool for writers to get their book read. As a carpenter would be without his tools, an author of this genre would be without suspense. Could this mentality be as a result of influences given from society, or perhaps just our fucked up nature? Comparing Two Short Stories 1 Stepney Green School 10548 ...read more.

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