Lamb to the Slaughter and The Speckled Band

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Lamb to the Slaughter and The Speckled Band essay Roald Dahl, a twentieth century writer wrote the short story ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’ a murder mystery in 1954, shortly after the Second World War and rationing. The story I propose to compare it to is Arthur Conan Doyle’s pre twentieth century murder mystery ‘The Speckled Band’ written in 1892. Although the two stories are in the same genre of murder mystery they are very different. The stories are different because Doyle’s story is a conventional murder mystery with typical stock characters, whereas ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’ has detectives who aren’t fully focused on the case in hand and the villain, the victim’s wife does not fulfil the stereotypical character profile of the criminal in Noonan’s mind. An indicator that these stories were written at different times is in Dahl’s story cars are mentioned whereas in Doyle’s story travel is by carts and by train. The scene at the start of Dahl’s story presents the reader with a typical 1950’s family scene where the pregnant wife makes her husband top priority in her life. At the start of the ‘Speckled Band’ the mood is very sombre and slow because Watson is looking back over all his past cases and is having flashbacks about a specific case. The way the story is told, in past tense and by him looking back lets the reader know that Watson survives this particular case. In my opinion the start of Dahl’s story is more appealing to the reader because it gives the reader a friendly more up to date environment to which the reader can relate to. An example of this friendly environment is when the author tells us ‘The room was warm and clean’. The fact that the room is both warm and clean makes it feel cosy to the reader because warm is usually associated with friends and family. When you look closely at Dahl’s story you can see that there are some clues that some sort of crime will occur here. An example of one of these clues is when Dahl needlessly adds ‘but without anxiety’ to his story, which indicates that that something, will happen here. Another way in which Dahl gives the impression that something will happen is when he begins to describe the actions of the husband, such as, when he rattles the ice cubes in his glass which gives a clue that he is agitated and has something on his mind. On the other hand Conan Doyle’s story almost prepares you for what is coming with the mood that is set and the way
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