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Discuss to what extent the writer allows the reader to identify with the main character in each story.

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Introduction

Wider Reading Coursework Discuss to what extent the writer allows the reader to identify with the main character in each story. I am going to write about two stories from the detective genre. These stories are 'The Speckled Band' by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and 'Lamb to the Slaughter' by Roald Dahl. 'The Speckled Band' was written in 1888 and 'Lamb to the Slaughter' was written in 1954. They are examples of stories linked by genre, but separated by time. The detective genre is a specific style of writing and has always been popular with readers. Also, before Sherlock Holmes, the detective genre was just beginning, and Holmes helped to make it so popular. The Sherlock Holmes stories are among the most popular and well known detective stories and are read worldwide by people of all ages. The detective genre is just as popular today, and there are thousands of authors writing detective stories, films and television programs. I am going to discuss how much the writer allows the reader to identify with the main characters in both stories. There is an important difference in these stories in that in 'The Speckled Band', the main character is the detective, Sherlock Holmes, and in 'Lamb to the Slaughter' the main character is the murderer, Mary Maloney. I think that as a reader I identify slightly more with Mary Maloney than I do with Sherlock Holmes. This might however, have something to do with the fact that there are over 60 Sherlock Holmes stories, and perhaps you would get to know Holmes better if you had read all of them. ...read more.

Middle

It would be very awkward to accuse your ex-colleague's wife of killing him. Plus, they had probably met Mary before and wouldn't think she was capable of murdering anyone, let alone her own husband who anyone could see she adored. 'The Speckled Band' is narrated in the first person, from the point of view of Watson, Sherlock Holmes's very good friend, and indeed the only other character close to Holmes that we are told about. This is a fairly good perspective to see the story from because Watson knows Holmes very well and can tell the reader a lot about him, and if he is acting strangely or has something on his mind. It is a bit biased because you can tell that Watson admires and looks up to Holmes, and that he wouldn't say anything too bad about him. Sherlock Holmes is presented as a very intelligent, observant, witty and surprising man, but he is also a little reserved and you get the impression that he is a very private person. I have compared Sherlock Holmes with the detectives in 'Lamb to the Slaughter', and now I am going to compare Mary Maloney with the other murderer, Dr. Roylott. Dr. Roylott was a rich man who had married a woman called Mrs. Stoner, the mother of two girls called Helen and Julia. Their mother died and Dr. Roylott and the girls went back to his hometown, where his family had once been very rich, but were now poor. Mrs. Stoner had said that when the girls got married they had to be given a large sum of money, which Dr. ...read more.

Conclusion

You also wonder what is going to happen next - does she get away with it? What does she do next? This is a completely different ending to that of 'The Speckled Band'. In this story, all the loose ends are tied up and explanations are given. You find out what happens to the murderer, Dr. Roylott and your mind is at ease. It's almost like the case is closed and filed away in your mind. So in conclusion, I feel that I identify more with Mary Maloney than I do with Sherlock Holmes, for several reasons. I think that Mary is an easily likeable character, because she is basically good and sweet. Although she is a bit weak and dependant at the beginning, you are assured that she is not completely like this when she murders her husband! I can also identify with Sherlock Holmes, but only up to a certain point. Although he is a likeable and intelligent person, I feel that you cannot get completely close to a character if the writer did not mean you to, and I think this is the case with Sherlock Holmes. If you knew all about Sherlock Holmes and his intimate past, I think that the character wouldn't work. The main part of his charm and personality is that there is always an air of mystery, and you never know what he has done in the past. Nor, if you really knew and understood the character, would you want to, I think. I think that both 'The Speckled Band' and 'Lamb to the Slaughter' are brilliant detective stories, and their foundations are the strong and endearing characters that are at the heart of the story. Danielle O'Hagan 10G 1 ...read more.

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