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Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's short story, The Speckled Band compared to Roald Dahls Lamb to the Slaughter

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Introduction

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's short story, "The Speckled Band" written in the early nineteenth century tells the tale of Sherlock Holmes and one of his cases and it compares very differently to Roald Dahl's twentieth century short story, "Lamb to the Slaughter" about a wife murdering her husband. The murder mystery genre has developed an identity for itself whereby many elements of different stories within the genre are the same, such as the characterisation, writing style, suspense and resolution. Both short stories fit differently into the typical murder mystery tale, for example in "Lamb to the Slaughter" the detectives are portrayed as foolish whereas in "The Speckled Band" the detective is intelligent and meets the expectations of the reader. Both stories present elements such as suspense and perspective in different fashions. Furthermore differences between the two stories are shown through the settings. In "The Speckled Band" the setting is a "very old" "manor house" and only one of the " wings is inhabited". We learn that there are wild animals roaming free in the house and that there are "wretched gypsies in the plantation". This is very typical of the genre; the readers of "The Speckled Band" identify the settings as peculiar and immediately perceive it as the scene of the crime. They quickly start making predictions about what or who linked to setting could be behind the crime. On the other end of the spectrum, the setting in "Lamb to the Slaughter" is a cosy domestic home. ...read more.

Middle

If the crime were unresolved then the story would have little point. Whereas in "Lamb to the Slaughter" the detectives destroy the evidence and Mary Maloney isn't caught. This again is what the readers expected, as she seemed very witty and left one clue that was later destroyed. As the sympathy was directed towards her rather then the victim the resolution needs to be in her favour to satisfy the reader. Also if the story were resolved then it wouldn't be interesting, as the readers already know by whom & how the murder was committed. There are some similarities and differences between how the investigation is carried out. In both stories the detectives go to the scene of crime to look for information. In "Lamb to the Slaughter", the investigation is unprofessional; the detectives don't necessarily think the Mary Maloney is guilty and accept alcohol from her and act friendly towards her. They also fail to identify the leg of lamb as a weapon and Mary Maloney's suspicious behaviour. This again is atypical of the genre and the readers quickly come to the conclusion that murder will not be resolved because of the way in which the investigation is carried out and how no information is deduced. On the other hand the investigation is "The Speckled Band" is carried out professionally and Holmes puts his life on risk to carry it out. Evidence is collected systematically with a hypothesis and every minor detail is taken into account. This again is typical of the genre and the readers immediately know through the systematic investigation that the murder will be resolved. ...read more.

Conclusion

Likewise, Roald Dahl couldn't have written something that predominantly represents "The Speckled Band". As evident from his other stories he would have added twists in the stories and changed different elements. The pace of the story would have been increased and things such as the crime would be very sudden and quick and the portrayal of the characters would be very different, for example Dr. Watson might have been shown as a comical sidekick of Holmes. Both stories have their own distinctive qualities that appeal to the reader. "The Speckled Band" goes into the finest of details and involves the reader in the story and forces them to think, make prediction and have a stab at solving the crime. With its exquisite detail it creates imagery in the mind of the reader and takes them into setting where the crime took place. "Lamb to the Slaughter" doesn't involve the reader much nor it creates pictures in its readers mind. Its twists shock the reader and keep them constantly interested. It takes a different look at the crime and shows the reader how a criminal thinks and exposes something that isn't common in the genre. "Lamb to the Slaughter" and "The Speckled Band" both compares very differently to each other and the comparison between the two makes it evident that much has changed in a hundred years. "The Speckled Band" represents the genre in a very typical fashion and the different element such as resolution and characterisation fit in very comfortably into the idea of murder mystery story and meets its reader's expectation. "Lamb to the Slaughter" tells the story of murder from a different angle and steers away from most things that the genre stands for. ...read more.

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