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To compare and contrast how two authors, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle from the 19th century and Alan Bennett from the 20th century, treat the subject of murder. Which do you find the most successful treatment and why?

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Introduction

Wider Reading Coursework By Catherine Task: To compare and contrast how two authors, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle from the 19th century and Alan Bennett from the 20th century, treat the subject of murder. Which do you find the most successful treatment and why? Both texts are written in the first person, from the viewpoints of different people connected with the crime, and from the point of view of an outsider in each situation/ someone who doesn't fully know what is happening themselves. In the Speckled Band the genre is being described from Watson's point of view, and it is written as an account of his past. It is this point of view he uses to portray evidence as he finds it out. As he isn't the main detective then you as a reader are not given ideas as to the cause of the victims' death until the end when he is told. This makes the reader more interested because they have the oppertunity to work out the cause of the murder for themselves. In The Outside Dog the monologue is being told from Marjory's viewpoint, who we find out later to be the murderers husband. This keeps the reader interested because we seem to realise before her who the murderer is, and throughout the monologue different paths of the story are woven in. This starts with the reader at first wanting to know who the murderer was, and then when we work out who it is the text leads us onto wondering whether Marjory knows that its her husband, or whether she's in denial, and then when we realise she definitely knows that its her husband we wonder whether he will be convicted or not. I think you tend to feel more sympathy and involvement with Marjory in The Outside Dog, because it seems that she is unaware that her husband is a murderer, he seems to use her to get rid of his frustrations, by making her have sex with him after every murder, and the way she sticks by him makes you feel sorry for her. ...read more.

Middle

In this way, The Outside Dog seems more realistic, and more real as if we are actually there with Marjory, and going through what shes going through at the same time as her, rather than a story with a narrator. It is much easier to imagine what Sherlock Holmes and Watson look like, because we are given descriptions through-out the text, of settings and characters. These details help build the suspense, as we are told that Sherlock Holmes notices bruises on Helen's arm, which suggests that she has been beaten, and then Dr Grimesby Roylott is described as violent, as 'huge', as having a face that was marked with 'every evil passion', and a nose that resembled a 'fierce old bird'. These two descriptions leads us into thinking that there is a connection between the two instances, which would not have been detected without the vivid portrait of the characters, and their appearance. Even though the descriptions help with the story, they also make the story seem unrealistic, because they are so stereotypical. Helen is portrayed as a 'typical woman', as the heroine, and Dr Roylott as the 'typical villain', with his character description suggesting violence. It is harder to make such obvious connections at first with The Outside Dog, because Marjory is just making general observations in her conversation, but as we go deeper into it, we are able to work out facts about her husband, and are able to pick up on details that suggest his guilt. We have to do the same thing when trying to get descriptions of the setting, for instance we have to wait for her to say that shes been cleaning the dog kennel, before we realise she has one, and the same with having ornaments in the toilet. Overall, I think that this lack of description helps us use our own imagination as to what the characters look like, and would probably help when it comes when showing it as a play or on television, because ...read more.

Conclusion

the time it may have seemed realistic because they would have known a lot less about crime, but in the late 20th century people have realised that there aren't always happy endings. The introduction of television and free speech by the media has been able to show that murders and motives are much more complicated and harder to solve than a simplistic Sherlock Holmes story. The ending in The Speckled Band reaches a climax, but I don't think it is very effective, because by that time you have worked out the ending already, whereas The Outside Dog is effective because you're not expecting Stuart to be let off. I think that both authors were effective in suiting their chosen genre, because both texts managed to keep me interested until the end. The Speckled Band was successful in making me wonder who the murderer was, and what the method was throughout the text, even though for a more modern audience I would have preferred it to have less stereotypical characters. The Outside Dog was also successful in its purpose of making you wonder whether Stuart will get caught, and whether his wife knows and will stick by him, and I think the way you are entered into her life mid-conversation is effective because you have to make an effort to find out what's going on, which gets you more involved. I prefer The Outside Dog because I prefer the way it is more realistic, and the fact that there is an open and unexpected ending, unlike in The Speckled Band where you know that the crime will be solved at the end. I think however that if I had lived in the 19th century when it was written I would have appreciated it more, because the language wouldn't have seemed odd, and I would probably have been more willing to accept it as being realistic, or entertaining due to the culture of reading, rather than watching things in a monologue/ more down to earth form. ...read more.

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