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In this wide-reading piece I will compare two murder mystery stories: 'The Speckled Band' by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and 'Lamb to the Slaughter' by Roald Dahl. My first objective will be to offer a definition of a murder mystery.

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Comparing 'Lamb to the Slaughter' and 'The Speckled Band' In this wide-reading piece I will compare two murder mystery stories: 'The Speckled Band' by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and 'Lamb to the Slaughter' by Roald Dahl. My first objective will be to offer a definition of a murder mystery. A murder mystery is a story in which a murder has occurred and detective try to solve who committed the crime. People sometimes identify murder mysteries by the famous phrase 'who dunnit'. The three most important things in my opinion that need to be in a murder mystery are; a murderer, victim and a detective. Without these three things it cannot be a murder mystery. Usually the murderer carries his/her attack with are murder weapon. There is normally a motive behind the attack and clues and information are given to the reader throughout the story, sometimes via a sidekick of the lead detective. The reader has opportunities to guess and suspect the murderer. The setting of a murder mystery is usually a typical murder house gothic mansion with broken windows and set alone on a hill top. There are many twists and turns in the investigation and all is revealed at the end of the story. 'Lamb to the Slaughter' is a murder mystery written by Roald Dahl in 1954. The story is written in third person narrative. Dahl is particularly famous for his children's novels but he also wrote many adult thrillers including 'Lamb to the Slaughter'. 'The Speckled Band' was written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1892. It is written in third person narrative through Dr Watson's point of view. The two stories were written in a completely different age, 'The Speckled Band' was written in Victorian times whereas 'Lamb to the Slaughter' was written in the modern age - post World War 2. The writing and the style of language clearly reflects this age difference between the two stories. ...read more.


Even though Noonan checks Mary Maloney's alibi, he never really suspects her, and makes too many false assumptions, whereas Holmes looks at everything for every aspect before jumping to conclusions. Doyle uses his detective, Sherlock Holmes to convey the attitudes at the time in which he wrote 'The Speckled Band'. Life in Victorian times was full of murder, drugs and prostitution. Public hangings were frequent and people feared crime greatly. When Holmes arrived on the scene, the public fell in love with how he always cracked every case and defeated evil. Holmes reassured the people that he would always solve the case, even though he was a fictional character. Doyle uses his detective superbly to show the attitudes at the time of writing. The settings between the two stories also contrast one another. In 'The Speckled Band' the crime and action is set at the Roylotts' manor house at Stoke Moran. Stoke Moran is described as a stereotypical murder house, high on a hill top, desolated from all other settlements, broken windows and "heavy iron gates" with "iron bars". The reader immediately feels that the manor is somewhat eerie and suspicious. The manor's two curving wings are described as "claws of a crab". The intended effect of this is to make the reader feel that the manor house is very dangerous and anyone entering its claws will find it difficult to escape. This is an example of pathetic fallacy used by Doyle to give the setting a sense of emotion, as in the angry and vicious claws of a crab, to the manor house. The pathetic fallacy used in the setting reflects the emotions and personality of Dr Roylott. This gothic setting adds to the suspense created and adds to the fact that evil looms, making Dr Grimesby Roylott even more guilty of the murder. 'Lamb to the Slaughter' is set in a modern cosy home with a small garden and garage. ...read more.


In 'The Speckled Band' Doyle describes objects and characters in great detail with long, complex sentence structures. For example when we first meet the villain, Dr Grimesby Roylott, Doyle describes his appearance with great detail from head to toe, using dense sentences with metaphors and similes; "His deep-set, bile-shot eyes and the thin fleshless nose gave him somewhat the resemblance to a fierce old bird of prey." In Victorian times people enjoyed literate pieces with intellectual use of language, especially that of Sherlock Holmes. 'Lamb to the Slaughter' also uses good use of descriptive writing, although not in as much detail as 'The Speckled Band'. Dahl also uses similes in his story, using examples of modern references which give evidence of the age difference between the two stories. An example of this sort of simile is found near the beginning; "She loved to luxuriate in the presence of this man, and to feel - almost as a sunbather feels the sun." The lengths of the sentences in 'Lamb to the Slaughter are on average shorter than the sentences of 'The Speckled Band' and they are detailed with less density, with a lot of quick, short sentences between the characters , especially near the beginning in the conversation between Patrick and Mary Maloney. 'The Speckled Band' is a serious affair all the way through the story whereas Dahl's story uses faint humour in places although it is not intended to be a comedy. An example of humour in the story is when Mary hits the lamb of leg over Patrick's head; "She stepped back a pace, waiting, and the funny thing was that he remained standing there for at least four or five seconds, gently swaying. Then he crashed to the carpet." This is something you would expect in a 'Tom and Jerry' cartoon, not a murder mystery. Quotes like this throughout 'Lamb to the Slaughter' show the audience that the story is not meant to be taken very seriously and the tone of the general text also reflects this. ...read more.

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