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I am going to compare and contrast the two short stories "The Speckled Band" by Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle, and "Lamb to the Slaughter" by Roald Dahl, by pointing out techniques used which make it a typical or untypical detective or murder mystery story.

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Introduction

Speckled Band Essay In this essay, I am going to compare and contrast the two short stories "The Speckled Band" by Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle, and "Lamb to the Slaughter" by Roald Dahl, by pointing out techniques used which make it a typical or untypical detective or murder mystery story. Both "The Speckled Band" and "Lamb to the Slaughter" have parts for a detective story, i.e. they both have a murderer who is cold and calculating, and a little bit mad. On the other hand, they are presented to us very differently, making one story very typical of its genre, and making the other very untypical of the murder mystery genre. Both Conan-Doyle and Dahl use various techniques to make their stories more interesting; for example, in Dahls "Lamb to the Slaughter" the story revolves around the character of Mrs Mary Maloney, loving housewife and psychopathic killer. Whereas many stories concentrate on the detective or sometimes the victim, this story concentrates on the character of the murderer. This view helps with the telling of the murder, making it more unexpected. The story includes two major plot twists; the first is the murder itself, made unexpected by what we have seen of Mary Maloney's character, the setting, and the form the murder weapon takes among other things. The second plot twist is at the end, where the detectives eat the murder weapon. Conan-Doyle also used techniques in writing "The Speckled Band". His story revolves around the character of the detective, Sherlock Holmes, which is a preferred technique of murder mystery authors. The story, though centred on Holmes, is told as seen through the eyes of his companion, Dr Watson, providing a good example of writing in the first person. ...read more.

Middle

'It was extraordinary, now, how clear her mind became all of a sudden. She began thinking very fast. This doesn't seem like she is a housewife totally devoted to her husband, or a murderer who has just killed the husband she was totally devoted to. She seems either totally in control of the situation and trying to cover it up, in shock or totally a psychopath, as she is clearly a bit mad for doing something without any explanation. Throughout the police investigation, she acts totally innocent, unlike Dr Roylott. She manipulates the detectives into having a drink of whiskey and that slows down their investigation 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 the way she covers her tracks well, make her more like a murderer. Another thing, which makes the story more untypical is that, she succeeds and doesn't get caught. The character of Mary Maloney is the last person you would think of as a murderer. She is a pregnant loving housewife who 'loved to luxuriate in the presence' of her husband- the man she killed. This is why she is such an untypical and interesting character. 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, who is scared a lot and is innocent, and is usually about to come into a lot of money. This description is exactly what Helen Stoner is like, she is a woman obviously, and a scared one, terrified by her predicament. 'It is not cold which makes me shiver... It is terror'. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is quite a typical resolution- justice has been served, the murderer brought about his own destruction, helped along by the intelligent detective setting the means of murder against the murderer. By the end of the story the reader is left feeling satisfied with the ending. Good has triumphed, evil hasn't, the right person came out on top, and the world is a much safer place to live in, etc. In 'Lamb to the Slaughter' however, the ending follows a different. After the detectives have spent hours searching the premises, Mrs Maloney manipulates them into eating the leg of lamb in the oven, which just happens to be the murder weapon, and the story closes with Mrs Maloney giggling while the detectives talk amongst themselves. "Have some more Charlie?" "No. Better not finish it" "She wants us to finish it. She said so. Be doing her a favour" "Okay then give me some more... Personally, I think the weapon's right here on the premises" "Probably right under our very noses. What do you think Jack?" 'And in the other room, Mary Maloney began to giggle' The bit about her giggling suggests she is a bit mad. Dahl and Conan-Doyle have created the two stories well, but in my opinion, Dahls story, 'Lamb to the Slaughter', is the better of the two, for two main reasons. Firstly, Dahl it was written so that it is the exact opposite of a detective story, which makes everything in it untypical. Secondly, I particularly like the way in which Dahls characters develop as the story goes on. Mary Maloney goes from loving housewife and victim to a murderer. Patrick Maloney develops from murderer to dead victim, and as for the detectives to me they seem like typical cartoon detectives not murder mystery detectives. George Munjas11ME ...read more.

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