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Detective Fiction comparison 'Lamb to the Slaughter' & 'The Red Headed League'.

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Detective Fiction 'Lamb to the Slaughter' & 'The Red Headed League' In this essay I am going to analyze two short stories, 'Lamb to the Slaughter' by Roald Dahl and 'The Red Headed League' by Arthur Conan Doyle, and examine how they fall into the detective genre. Detective fiction can be qualified in several ways and can be seen in many diverse angles. What are our expectations of detective fiction? What do we look for when we read detective fiction? We usually expect crime, suspense, mystery, puzzles and a few twists. Readers also appreciate when they can do their own bit of uncovering and get involved in the story. Not all stories offer that possibility to readers, so in this essay I am going to try and find out the differences between 'L. to the S.' and 'The RHL' and see if and why we can classify them as detective stories. Roald Dahl, who is very famous for writing novels aimed at young children, wrote 'Lamb to the slaughter'. This particular book 'Someone like you', was one of his first book aimed at grown- ups. It contains a number of short stories, mostly written in different styles. ...read more.


The slaughter wasn't planned ahead; she acted out of revenge, and operated very spontaneously and unexpectedly. It seems as if she even hesitated before acting and we are not sure if she actually indented to kill her husband. The 'Red Headed League' is a very different short story from the previous one. Its author is well known for writing twisty detective stories featuring the brilliant and talented Sherlock Holmes. Doctor Watson, who plays the role of assistant to Holmes in the story, is the narrator of the story; we are reading his memoirs and also mostly Mr. Wilson accounts. Watson has a limited view into things, therefore the reader does not know who the criminals are or their reasons for the crime; we aren't ahead of Holmes. The reader is left a bit clueless at the beginning of the story and we only find out what happened at the end, at the same time as Watson. There is undeniably a mystery in the story and that is the dissolving of the RHL and what its creators are up to. The beginning of the story appears to be a rather misleading and confusing, as it is hard to link the dissolving of the RHL with any possible crime. ...read more.


The major difference between the two short stories is that 'L. to the S.' does not really contain mystery at least no to the eyes of the reader, and is written in present tense and narrated by an outsider who is not limited in the knowledge of what's happening. I believe that we can call both short stories detective fiction but one of them is more appropriate than the other (The Red Headed League). Everybody's expectations are different, as all readers have different tastes in books; but the main requirements of detective fiction are to have suspense, surprise, crime and puzzles. Both of the stories contain a few of these main elements, if not all. I feel that 'The Red Headed League' is a better detective story, as a very famous detective plays role in it. It was also written by a writer who specialized in this genre of story; while Roald Dahl is more of a humoristic writer. Furthermore, 'The RHL' was made much more interesting and contained more suspense by a premeditated crime and Holmes' detective work. I took pleasure in reading both of these stories but I find that The Red Headed League more enjoyable as a detective story because the facts and solutions weren't put right under our noses and the ending was quite startling. Livia Antolik Y10.3 25/10/03 ...read more.

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