'Both Lamb to the slaughter and the Speckled Band share some of the qualities found in murder mysteries. What are the similarities and differences between the two?'

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Year 11 ‘Murder mystery’ coursework.                By Edward Brett 10HY

‘Both Lamb to the slaughter and the Speckled Band share some of the qualities found in murder mysteries. What are the similarities and differences between the two?’ 


he ‘Lamb to the slaughter’ and the ‘Speckled Band’ are both in the same category of genre, which is this case is a murder mystery. Although both are in the same type of genre there are many differences and similarities between the two stories. The main differences and similarities will be looked at closer in this essay and these include, comparing the characters from each story, the settings, how the writer makes us want to read on by building up tension and drama, and how the writer ends the story. The ‘Speckled Band’ was written in 1892 (19th century) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, his stories are about the famous detective Sherlock Holmes. I knew before reading this story that Sherlock Holmes was a famous detective that would solve mysteries along with his fellow college Doctor Watson and Scotland Yard. ‘The Lamb to the Slaughter’, however is a more modern story being written in the 20th century by famous writer Roald Dahl. He is renowned for writing children’s stories, like ‘Charlie and the chocolate factory’, ‘Marvellous Medicine’ and ‘James and the Giant Peach’. Roald Dalh also occasionally writes stories aimed the higher age up to adults; these usually are about ordinary people doing strange things.

Conan-Doyle portrays Doctor Roylott’s character as being a very violent man, showing he has gone for a very typical and traditional approach to making the murderer a violent and hated man. You can assume that he is a murderer in the story just by the description Doctor Watson give him, he describes him as being a ‘Huge man’, who possessed ‘ A large face scared with a thousand wrinkles and marked with a passion’. He has ‘deep-set, bile shot eyes’ and a ‘high thin fleshless nose, which is why the writer describes Doctor Roylott as having the resemblance of a ‘fierce bird of pray’. Doctor Roylott’s character is shown to be a bit of a loner and an unsociable character, ‘he shut himself up in his house, and seldom came out, save to indulge in ferocious quarrels with whoever might cross his path.’  Due to his lack of friends and companions Roylott dwelled on his anger at the death of his wife and becomes a very bitter man. He plans for a new practice in London were abandoned due to the death of his wife his whole attitude to life changed. This change was particularly noticed with his move to Stoke Moran where ‘he became a terror of the village and folks would fly at his approach, for he is a man of immense strength and absolutely uncontrollable in his anger’. These characteristics and changes in Roylott show that he would be quite capable of murdering his own daughters with little or no remorse, just for money.

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In ‘The Lamb to the Slaughter’ however the murderer is not so typical and predictable. Mrs Maloney’s Character would normally be seen a typical victim as opposed to the murderer. She is portrayed as being a meek and mild lady who know one would ever suspect. She seems like a loving and caring housewife devoted to her home and her husband. ‘Now and again…..would glance up at the clock… merely to please herself with the thought that each minute gone by made it nearer the time when he would come home’. Dahl uses word and phrases such as ‘curiously ...

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