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With reference to the speckled band by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and lamb to the slaughter by Roald Dahl, compare the ways in which the writers create atmosphere and tension, gives us clues to the ending and suspend our disbelief.

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Comparative Stories Question: With reference to "the speckled band" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and "lamb to the slaughter" by Roald Dahl, compare the ways in which the writers create atmosphere and tension, gives us clues to the ending and suspend our disbelief. Both the stories I am analysing are murder mysteries and they are set in very different time periods. Summary of stories "lamb to the slaughter" The lamb to the slaughter was a murder mystery story based on a troubled couple. Mary Malone is a keen housewife who is deeply in love with her husband and will do nearly anything to please him. Her husband is a police detective and a man of real authority. The story begins with Mary's husband coming home from work, she is fussing around her husband but he is unusually quiet. After a while he breaks news to his wife that he is leaving her. Mary tries to ignore the situation and asks her husband what he would like for supper, he doesn't reply. She gets up and gets some lamb out of the freezer and without thinking runs up and hits her husband over the head. After this Mary begins to think of a cover up plan, she touches up her make up and makes an appearance at her local grocery acting as natural as possible. On her return home she makes out that she has only just found her husband dead and phones the police, she sobs to make out that it was a brutal murder and to defend her innocence. The police arrived and began searching the house for clues and a possible murder weapon. (They didn't suspect Mary was the murderer.) Mary knew she had to get rid of the murder weapon and so offered the investigation team the lamb at which she killed her husband with. The inspectors ate the lamb and the murder weapon had gone. ...read more.


Throughout a murder mystery narrative we are often given hidden clues to the ending, this is mostly likely done so the reader can begin to piece the narrative together. In "Lamb to the slaughter" Mrs. Maloney's behaviour gives us clear clues to the ending. The first sign of this was "She began thinking very fast." This quote shows us that Mary was beginning to think of a plan to get her way out of trouble. Soon after that Roald Dahl shows us how Mary deals with the murder by rejecting the whole thing every happened, we discover how she talks to the mirror to practise her act at pretending nothing had happened. We realise that there is a different side to Mary a cunning one which she used to play her way out of trouble. Before the murder actually took place Roald Dahl describes in a lot of detail the events in which Mary went through to find her murder weapon. He uses pacific detail of Mary going into the cellar and describing a piece of lamb, he made the lamb symbolic within the story, the piece of lamb even features in the title and this gave us a clear clue that a piece of lamb might have a vital role to play in the conclusion of the story. After committing the murder the author gives a brief description of something which Mary does it reads, "She carried the meat into the kitchen, placed it in a pan, turned the oven on high, and shoved it inside." This brief description is a hidden clue to the ending. When reading the story the first time it wouldn't have been clear that this quote would have been relevant to the conclusion of the narrative. Unlike "Lamb to the Slaughter" the clues to the ending in "the speckled band" were easier to find and they were more of them. ...read more.


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has told us that Dr. Roylett has something to do with the murder but has left the case open to find out his incentive. With Roald Dahl he has shown us how somebody can put on a act and makes us believe something is true but in an instant can turn their emotions. Conclusion No though the two stories are both murder mysteries they differ, the main reason for this is probably the time periods in which they were written. Lamb to the slaughter was written in 1954 by Roald Dahl and the speckled band was written in 1892 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Lamb to the slaughter is a relatively modern narrative and this reflects in the style of language that the author has chosen to use. In the speckled band the language is some what more formal, we know this story is older as we hear of Helen Stoner travelling by horse and carriage where as in Roald Dahl's narrative he talks of Mary's husband coming home in a car. Also through reading the speckled band we hear of the Roylett's family living in a large stately home with maids. This was a very popular pre 20th century style of living and you would find that in the mid 20th century this style of living was mostly done by the top end of society. The two narratives do have a similarity. The writing styles in which the two authors have undertaken are similar. Atmosphere, tension, clues to the ending and suspending disbelief are prominent features in both narratives. This is the case as those four aspects are the best way of making a narrative fit into the murder mystery genre. Overall I found the Speckled band a more interesting narrative, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was brilliant in the way he gave us clues to the ending and used intelligent styles to keep us on edge throughout. I also enjoyed the way the author made me believe things that didn't quite fit within the context of the narrative. Comparative Stories Coursework Daniel Brown 11G 8 ...read more.

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