Dr Roylott is the 'terror of the village'; he is always starting brawls with the villagers. We know that this behaviour was very violent and he once 'hurled the local blacksmith'. And at Sherlock Holmes's house 'he picked up the poker' and he 'bent it into a curve'. He is a very aggressive man who is very forthright and demanding. Dr Roylott has a great passion for Indian animals and at the house he keeps 'a cheetah and a baboon, which wander freely over his grounds. Dr Watson though appears to be a very patient man who is very helpful. He has noteworthy respect for Sherlock Holmes and his work. Dr Roylott and Dr Watson have very different characters and they have no similarities to each other and they are also both different kinds of doctors.
Helen Stoner's appearance is described in The Speckled Band as 'her hair was shot with premature grey' and her face was described as 'weary and haggard' as well as 'all drawn and grey'. There is a great difference between Helen Stoner's and Mary Maloney's, from Lamb to the Slaughter, appearance. Mary Maloney's face has 'a wonderful translucent quality' and her eyes have a 'new placid look'. Both stories describe both the characters appearance in a lot of detail. Helen Stoner is in fear of her life and she was in a 'pitiable state of agitation' when she arrived at Sherlock Holmes's house. While Mary Maloney would 'glance up at the clock' waiting for Patrick to return home from work 'without anxiety'. These quotes highlight that Helen is very tense and scared and Mary is a very calm and relaxed person.
Sherlock Holmes is a very thorough detective and pays great attention to detail and this is shown throughout The Speckled Band. For example he noticed that Helen Stoner had travelled in a dogcart because her jacket was 'splattered with mud' and 'the marks are perfectly fresh'. Sherlock Holmes had never met Helen Stoner or any of her family including Dr Roylett before. However Jack Noonan knew Mary and Patrick Maloney on a very well. Patrick worked with Jack Noonan in the police force. This could of affected the way the case was handled and could of helped eliminate some of the suspects. Because Noonan knew Mary on a personal basis it could of affected the way she was eliminated from being a suspect. He obviously thought of her as the kind of person who wouldn't even consider to comet such a crime and that she had no reason to do so anyway. Jack Noonan is not as thorough as Holmes and doesn't think about all the possible murderers unlike Holmes and he makes false assumptions. The two detectives also give an idea of the time in history both stories were set. Sherlock Holmes is a dated detective with morals and determination compared to Jack Noonan who is a typical twentieth century detective and he doesn't seem to have the same passion for the job, which Homes does have.
Dr Roylott is a very vicious and strong man, Helen Stoner says 'he hardly knows his own strength'. Dr Roylott can be described as a stereotypical murderer and villain and he is a very obvious suspect from the beginning of the story. This could be one reason why The Speckled Band is more predictive than Lamb to the Slaughter. In contrast Mary Maloney is portrayed as the weak, innocent housewife who is pregnant with her husbands child. This image of her gives no reason to the audience to believe that she could commit such a crime or that she had any reason for wanting to. Also another difference between the two is that Dr Roylott is male and Mary Maloney is female. It is quite surprising to have a female killer in either of these stories, although it was more common in the twentieth century and it could be just a sign of the time.
Patrick Maloney and Helen Stoner are both victims in the two stories. Patrick lost his life and Helen lost her mother and sister and was in fear of her own life as well. Helen's physical appearance is described in great detail in The Speckled Band whereas in the Lamb to the Slaughter Patrick's appearance before he is murdered is not described at all, it is left to the readers imaginations.
The language used by the characters in both stories is very different. Sherlock Holmes's speeches come across very clearly, they are very effective. Holmes always says the right thing at the right time and he reassured Helen when she came to his house, saying 'you must not fear'. The always says the right things and he would have been the Victorian ideal or icon of a gallant gentleman. In contrast Mary used language differently. After she had murdered Patrick she used conversation to her advantage, she used it as a tool. She used it as a way of manipulating the detectives and establishing her alibi. For example, when she went to Sam's grocers she said, 'Patrick's decided he's tired and doesn't want to go out tonight'. This is a lie and she used it to establish her alibi. Another example is when the detectives were at her house and jack Noonan reminded her about the meat that was still in the oven she reacted by saying 'Oh dear me! So it is' she is pretending that she had forgotten it was there. She uses emotive language.
The semantic field for The Speckled Band is very complicated language and takes a long time before the reader can work out what is happening. Conan Doyle's description of Dr Roylott and Stoke Moran are interspersing with detail of Dr Roylott's previous life in India, which make the story even more complicated. In contrast the semantic field for Lamb to the Slaughter is mainly detective language such as 'murder', 'fingerprints' and 'policeman'. Lamb to the Slaughter also refers to Mary and Patrick Maloney's house as being very homely, the household is described very carefully as though it is too good to be true.
The Speckled Band is very complicated and many words are polysyllabic such as 'bewilderment' and 'uncontrollable'. In contrast to this the language used in Lamb to the Slaughter is a lot simpler and many words are monosyllabic such as 'the room was warm and clean'. As well as this The Speckled Band uses subordinate clauses where many commas are used in one sentence to give a longer sentence. For example when Helen Stoner is giving background information on her stepfather to Sherlock Homes she has a sentence which is nine lines long and uses seven commas. Lamb to the Slaughter uses much simpler sentence construction.
The language in both stories often reflects the stories date. The Speckled Band often uses dated language such as 'aperture' and 'gaiters'. This highlights the fact that this is a pre- twentieth century story. However Lamb to the Slaughter uses more modern language such as 'thermos bucket', which highlights the fact that this is a twentieth century story.
The uses of similes and metaphors are apparent in both stories. However The Speckled Band uses similes more, for example 'frightened eyes, like those of some hunted animal' and Lamb to the Slaughter uses metaphors more.
The Speckled Band is a very serious affair all the way through and it is mean to be taken seriously. An example where the language reflects this is when Helen Stoner leaves Baker street to return back to Stoke Moran and Dr Watson says 'it seems to be a most dark and sinister business' this is a very ominous and serious sentence. Lamb to the Slaughter is not a serious story and in parts we find ourselves smiling or laughing. This occurs mainly at the end of the story where Mary is pretending she knows nothing about the murder and right at the end of the sentence where one of the policemen referring to the murder weapon says 'Probably right under our noses'. Roald Dahl makes us have this reaction because we know that Mary is the murderer and she has got away with it even though the evidence is very obvious but the police are completely oblivious to all of this.
At the end of The Speckled Band the venom of the snake kills Dr Roylott when he was bitten while he was attempting to kill Helen Stoner. At the end of Lamb to the Slaughter the police eat the evidence and Mary is not suspected of killing her husband. The Speckled Band is the story with the twist in the tale. Initially I thought that Dr Roylott would be found out and be put in jail but instead he is killed by his own snake and as Holmes says ' Violence does, in truth, recoil upon the violent, and the schemer falls into the pit which he digs for another'. The effect that it has on the reader when the story doesn't end the way you expect is that they enjoy it more because it isn't as predictive.
The title The Speckled Band fits in with the pre-twentieth century. The Speckled Band is something that is actually in the story, but it is not discovered what it is until the end. The title Lamb to the Slaughter is a biblical term, it tells you what is going to happen. The title means two things. It means that Patrick was slaughtered by the lamb because he was hit over the head with the lamb and it also means that the detectives are the Lamb to the Slaughter because they eat the lamb, which is evidence.
I enjoyed The Speckled Band more because you can try to solve the crime as you read it. I found The Speckled Band more appealing, it is also more compelling because it was a more complicated story with many possibilities.