'Lamb to the Slaughter' and 'The Speckled Band' are both murder mysteries. They have some similarities but more differences.

Authors Avatar

'Lamb to the Slaughter' and 'The Speckled Band' are both murder mysteries. They have some similarities but more differences.

Roald Dahl wrote Lamb to the Slaughter in 1954 which makes it much more modern than Arthur Conan Doyle's The Speckled Band which was written in 1892.

The title, 'Lamb to the Slaughter' is cleverly thought of by Dahl and is meant as a witty pun although it is also linked to the murder, murderer and the victim. The Lamb part is the piece of meat used as a murder weapon and a lamb is also an innocent victim. The joke will not be noticed until the reader has read the story.

The title of 'The Speckled Band' has only one meaning, the murder weapon and also the mystery of the whole story, making another small difference between the two stories.

From the language used and also the style of writing in these two stories it is obvious to me that the style of writing has greatly changed since Arthur Conan Doyle wrote. The language used in much more old-fashioned which is indicated with words like 'pittance'. It also uses old fashioned images like dog-carts which contrast with modern images used in Lamb to the Slaughter like thermos buckets and 'tyres on the gravel outside' and the language in Lamb to the Slaughter is comparatively simpler.

One of the main contrasts between the two stories was the settings of the murders.

Doyle uses a stereotypical view of a haunted house in The Speckled Band which he portrays by using descriptive sentences such as 'The building was of grey lichen-blotched stone', similes 'like the claws of a crab' and it also describes the house as being 'a picture of a ruin.' This, naturally, makes the place seem scary and sinister and adds to the suspense.

This is almost the complete opposite of the setting in Lamb to the Slaughter which is a 'warm and clean' room which seems very nice, relaxed and not at all the type of place in which a murder happens. Dahl uses images which describe a perfect house in which everyone is happy like 'the curtains drawn' and 'fresh ice cubes in the Thermos bucket.' This makes the murder more shocking when it happens as it is the last place you would expect a murder to take place.

The space used to describe the settings is also very different. The Speckled Band is much longer than Lamb to the Slaughter and most of the space in The Speckled Band is taken up by descriptions of settings and the characters. This is different to Lamb to the Slaughter in which most of the space is taken up by Mary's thoughts and feelings and also actions.

Join now!

The two stories are written in different ways. Lamb to the Slaughter is written in 3rd person perspective whereas The Specked Band is written from the view of Dr. Watson. I found that the view in The Speckled Band was better because Dr. Watson sees the situation like the reader. He knows part of the mystery and wants to find out more. This also adds to the suspense of the story as Holmes often gives him key details but not much after that. It also gives the reader a chance to be astonished at Holmes' intelligence and his detective skills like ...

This is a preview of the whole essay