Lamb to the Slaughter and The Speckled Band

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Both Lamb to the Slaughter and The Speckled Band share some

characteristics of murder mysteries. What are the similarities and

differences between the two stories?

I this essay I am going to compare two short stories. 'The Speckled

Band' by Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle and 'The Lamb to the Slaughter' by

Roald Dahl.

There are both many similarities and difference between these two

stories. Though some similarities/differences are obvious and easy to

spot, there are also some less obvious similarities/differences.

The first difference we can see is the setting. 'In Lamb to the

Slaughter', the main setting is in a quiet, warm house. 'The room was

warm and clean, the curtains drawn, the two table lamps alight - hers

and the one by the empty chair opposite.' This description tells us

about how the house is appealing to be in. Also, by saying the 'empty

chair opposite' you can gather that there is another character in the

story, to which she is waiting for. The time period is a post 20th

Century America (1954, about 10 years after the Second World War.)

However, the main setting in 'The Speckled Band' is the complete

opposite. 'The building was of grey, lichen-blotched stone, with a

high central portion, and two curving wings, like the claws of a crab,

thrown out on each side.' This gives a foreboding atmosphere, which

could be used to en-still fear into readers. Another difference is

that it is set in 19th Century England.

Though both very different, both settings hold a murder to them.

Other differences are in the way the characters are depicted. In 'Lamb

to the Slaughter' the main character, Mary Maloney, is described as a

quiet peaceful person. 'Curiously tranquil eyes with their new placid

look, seemed larger, darker than before.' The writer also indicates

that she is pregnant, 'for this was her sixth month with child.' With

this description, you would not think of Mary to be a 'typical

killer'. What people consider a typical killer is someone who is cold,

precise and knows what they're doing, usually a man. However we are

misled, 'brought it down as hard as she could on the back of his

head. She might just have hit him with a steel club.' As you can see,

this would not have been expected from a quiet tranquil person. There

are no more descriptions of other people. This is strange as you would

think that there would be more people in the story. Even though more

people come into the story, they are not significant enough to get a

description. They are just said to be a 'police detective'.
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