A comparison between Roald Dahl's Lamb to the slaughter and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Speckled Band

A comparison between Roald Dahl's Lamb to the slaughter and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Speckled Band

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A comparison between Roald Dahl's Lamb to the slaughter and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Speckled Band

Murder Mystery Coursework -
A comparison between Roald Dahl's "Lamb to the slaughter" and Sir
Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Speckled Band

For my Murder Mystery Coursework I am going to be comparing two Murder Mystery stories, "The Speckled Band," and "Lamb to the Slaughter"

"Lamb to the Slaughter" was written by Roald Dahl. Roald Dahl is best known for writing children's books, such as "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," "The Twits," and "James and the Giant Peach." Roald Dahl was born in Llandaff, Wales in 1916 and lived until 1990. Dahl was also an author of series short stories for adults, which were later made into a TV series. His stories were so popular because they were unusual. They were called "Tales From The Unexpected."

One of Dahl's more popular short fiction stories for adults is "Lamb to the Slaughter." I am going to be using this story in my comparison against another Murder Mystery called "Speckled Band" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is best known for his Sherlock Holmes stories. Although he did many more, these proved to be the most popular to this very day. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh in 1859 and lived until 1930. The time in which Sir Conan Doyle lived, had a great influence on his work. Doyle served in the South African Wars as a doctor. This influenced him because when he returned to England he wrote "The Boer War," and "The War in South Africa: Its Causes and Conduct" which justified England's participation. For these works he was knighted in 1902. During World War I he wrote the "History of British Campaign in France," and "Flanders" as a tribute to British bravery. One of Doyle's famous Sherlock Holmes story is "The Speckled Band." This is the murder Mystery I am using to compare to Roald Dahl's "Lamb to the Slaughter"

Murder Mysteries are stories that are written to intrigue you, make
you wonder who has done it. They certainly live up to the title
"Murder Mystery" because there is a murder and you have to find out
who has done it. Typically a murderer is male, looks shifty, and has a
motive that you don't find out until the end.

You usually are told the story through the eyes of an inspector. They
survey the evidence, but you do not always see what they do.

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A good
example of this is in "Speckled Band." We see the story through the
eyes of Doctor Watson, with Sherlock Holmes as the inspector. Holmes
is a lot more cunning and dexterous, he spots things that Watson
doesn't, and because we see things through the eyes of Watson, we
don't always find those things out until the end when Holmes reveals
all he has learned from his careful observation.

A murderer in a Murder Mystery usually uses a weapon, such as a gun,
large blunt object, or knife. But sometimes, these typical "rules" for
a murder mystery are broken, which I think makes the mystery that bit
more exciting, mainly because you don't expect it. There are cases of
this in both "Lamb to the Slaughter" and "The Speckled Band."

In a murder mystery, the author creates tension. He does this to make
the story more interesting. He can do this by using short sentences
and in many cases, only having the inspector knowing everything and
the reader not, because if you don't know how something happens, it
makes it more exciting.

"The Speckled Band" is one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes
stories. At the start of "Speckled Band" a young woman called comes to
Sherlock Holmes, and asks for his assistance. From the first few pages
we can tell how Holmes' is more cunning and observative than Watson
because of the way her can tell exactly how the young woman arrived at
Holmes' house. The woman tells Holmes' about how her sister has been
murdered and how there was a "Speckled Band" around her neck. She
continues to tell him of how she suspects her Uncle.

Holmes' and Watson go to the house, make their observations and as
usual, Holmes' spots things that Watson doesn't. They put the clues
together and found out that her Uncles was training a Snake to kill
people which is the "Speckled Band" that they see around the neck. As
Holmes' tell you the clues that he has found, you find out that Watson
also sees them, but doesn't quite see what Holmes' has, this again
shows how Holmes' is a lot more observant than Watson. This story is
typical of the Murder Mystery Genre in some aspects but not in other,
like "Lamb to the Slaughter."

In "Lamb to the Slaughter" there are some of the typical aspects of a
murder mystery. A motive, a weapon. But some of the aspects are not
that typical, such as the murder weapon, although it could be classed
as a large blunt object, you still don't expect it to be a frozen leg
of lamb. Also that the murdered is a woman, this is not usually
typical of a murder mystery.

Mary Maloney had just been told some bad news from her husband, we can
tell by the way that she acts that she loves him. We are not told what
this news is. He could be leaving her; he could have been having an
affair. Whatever it was, she didn't like it. It looks like she took it
as a shock by the way she was acting like nothing was wrong and
continued about her usual ways, making tea, getting him a drink. But
eventually it hits her and pushes her too far and she kills him. She
them sets up and alibi by going to the local shop and acting normal,
then ringing the police when she goes home to "discover" the body.
There is an inspection, and no one suspects the "poor little wife." In
the end she gets away with it, and disposes of the murder weapon by
literally feeding it to the police.

The narrative structure for a murder mystery is usually this:-

- A body is found by some one.

- An inspector comes and there is an investigation

- Clues are found

- The Inspector solves the case

- The reader is told all

We are usually told in the 3rd person narrative. We are watching the
murder, but do not always see everything. This is true in "The
Speckled Band," but not in "Lamb to the Slaughter" because we see
things in the 1st person narrative, through the eyes of Mary Maloney.

In "The Speckled Band" I think that it is set pre 1914 because of the
way of the way the people talk in it. They in a manner which is not
typical of our time. They also have things that are not as common in
society now a days, such as a "bell rope" and they have a
housekeeper's room, which many people don't have any more.

Whereas in "Lamb to the Slaughter" we can tell that it is set post
1914, because of the way they talk, which a lot less formal than in
"The Speckled Band" and how cars are a lot more common. We can tell
this by how Mary Maloney hears her husband pull up on the drive in his

In "The Speckled Band" tension is created by the use of short
sentences and way that the murder that has happened doesn't seem quite
normal, like it could be supernatural, but in fact it isn't, which we
find out as at the end. I think just the fact that you don't know what
is happening induces tension.

In "Lamb to the Slaughter" tension is created by the way Mary Maloney acts as if everything is normal. After she finds out the terrible news that we don't she says things like, "Darling shall I get your slippers?" and "Would you like me to get you some cheese?" which you wouldn't expect from someone who has just found out something bad.

The clues in both "Lamb to the Slaughter" and "The Speckled Band" are very hard to spot, if you don't know what you're looking for. When you look back, mainly on "The Speckled Band," you realise how obvious it is.

In "The Speckled Band" the villain is Dr. Roylett. I think that he is a stereotypical murderer because, he is a man, and is very strange. Whereas in "Lamb to the Slaughter," the murderer is Mary Maloney. She isn't a stereotypical murderer because she is a woman.

The Victim in "The Speckled Band" is young woman and her sister, who has already been murdered. They are both stereotypical victims, because they are woman, and appear weak a feeble. The victim in "Lamb to the Slaughter" it Mr. Maloney. He isn't a stereotypical victim because he is a man, and they are usually the murderers, not the ones who get murdered.

Both the villain and victim in "The Speckled Band" are typical for their time, but they aren't typical of their time in "Lamb to the Slaughter."

Mary Maloney is a typical woman. She seems loving to her husband, and a good wife. She makes his tea, waits for him to come home. It is obvious that she loves him. We accept this as the way she is, and she comfortably fits into the character of a typical woman for those times. But when she commits the murder, this is not typical for a woman, and is not seen as something a woman should do. She does not fit in this character as comfortable as the other, but I think this makes her a better character for a murderer because you don't expect it to be her.

Mr. Maloney seems the typical man for his time. He has a nice house, a steady job, and a wife who loves him. You don't expect him to be some one who would tell a perfectly loving wife what he did. Although we don't know what he told her, we wouldn't have thought that he would do something to hurt her so much, because she seems so loving towards him, and doesn't appear to do anything wrong. Mr. Maloney is a typical man for his time and fit comfortably into this character.

Dr. Grimsby Roylett is a typical suspect for a murderer, he is very moody, quite strange and scary looking. You would expect it to be him that is committing the murders because of the way he acts. I think he also fit comfortably into his character.

The niece of Dr. Roylett is the victim. I think that she is also typical of her time. She seems week and quite scared of her uncle, which makes you suspect that she will be murdered.

In "The Speckled Band" the detective is Sherlock Holmes. I think that he is a typical detective because he is very smart and cunning; he sees things that others don't, and always seems to know what is going on, even when others don't. In "Lamb to the Slaughter," the investigators are a group of policemen. I think that they are typical of there time and do what they would of done.

The crime in "The Speckled Band" is Dr. Roylett training a snake to kill his niece's. He trains it to climb down a fake bell rope and hopes that it will bite them one day and kill them, which it does to one of them. He can't make the snake but, so it takes time to do. I don't think that this is a typical murder, because it doesn't use one of the typical murder weapons. This is a pre-meditated murder.

The crime in "Lamb to the Slaughter" is quite typical murder in some ways. Mary Maloney finds out some terrible news and the snaps and kills her husband. She uses a large blunt object to kill him, although it is a leg of frozen lamb. She then disposes of the weapon, by feeding it to the policemen, and pretends that she knows nothing about it. I think it has a typical motive, revenge for what he has done. But the murder weapon is typical because it is a large blunt object, but is a leg of lamb.

I think that in both cases, the stories were written for entertainment value. That were to make people wonder what had happened, think about why, who, how. Also to make you think that everything is not always what it seems.

I personally enjoyed "Lamb to the Slaughter" more, because it isn't what you expect. The way that Mary Maloney disposes of the weapon by feeding it to the policemen, and then having a little giggle about it. It defies most of the common rules of a murder mystery, which is why I prefer it. You don't have to figure out why they did it, although you want to know what Mr. Maloney told her to drive her to do it.

I think that both the stories were not that typical, mainly because of the murder weapon used, but I would have to say that "The Speckled Band" is the more typical of the too, because apart from the murder weapon, it follows the typical rules for a murder mystery.
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