The Speckled Band and Lamb to the Slaughter

The Speckled Band and Lamb to the Slaughter

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Both The Speckled Band and Lamb to the Slaughter share some
characteristics of the detective stories. Consider how they fit into
the genre of the detective stories and the similarities and
differences between the two.

The first detective story was written in 1841 by Edgar Allen Poe, this
story was called 'The Murders in the Rue Morgue.' Since the Murder in
the Rue Morgue was published they have been one of the most popular
genre of books. There have been many other famous detective stories
such as Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Hercule Poirot
stories by Agatha Christie which are quite similar to the Sherlock
Holmes stories as both writers were writing for the upper class
readers of the time and at the end of both stories the detectives
explain to the readers what crime was committed and the detectives had
found the evidence to support there suspicions. Ruth Rendell began
writing themes which included corrupt police and murderer not
convicted. Also there are now lots of TV series/films in the genre,
such as 'The Bill', 'A Touch of Frost', 'Midsummer Murders' and
'Inspector Morse'. Until recently detective stories have always had
'neat and tidy' endings as everything was explained so there were no
loose endings, which the readers of that period liked. But now there
have been twists and endings that lead your imaginations running wild
and your brain working over time trying to think of the ending to the
story and I believe that this is how we like it! However the typical
features of detective stories still remain, such as the victim(s), the
villain(s), crime and the detectives.

Both Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie wrote for the upper
class readers. Most Agatha Christie stories had a detective called
Hercule Poirot in them and as she was writing for upper class readers,
she assumed that they had travelled as she wrote a book called 'Murder
on The Orient Express'. Also in some of her books she wrote words or
phases in French as she assumed again that as her readers were of the
upper class they would be able to understand French.

The detectives in the Speckled Band and Lamb to the Slaughter are very
different as Sherlock Holmes (detectives in the Speckled Band) was a
private detective with a sidekick called Dr Watson. Sherlock Holmes
worked because he loves what he does and isn't bothered about the
money "working as he did rather for the love of his art than for the
acquirement of wealth." As a private detective he was very selective
to what work he did, as he would only work if the case interested him.

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His work was very thorough, he used his power of deduction to solve
the crime as at the time when The Speckled Band was written they
didn't have forensics or DNA, like in Lamb to the Slaughter, so he was
very analytical. He plays the main character in this story as
everything is based around him and his side kick Dr Watson.

The detectives in Lamb to the Slaughter are called Jack Noonan and
O'Malley; there is also medical staff, forensics and photographers.
They are in the police force. I think they work because they want or
need the money. Their work is not very thorough or selective as I
think they have all the forensics to check things out for them. The
detectives are not the main characters in this story because they only
come in half way through the story as the story is based around Mrs
Maloney and her husband.

As with the detectives the crimes and motives are completely
different, in The Speckled as it is in Lamb to the Slaughter.

In Lamb to the Slaughter the crime was impulsive as Mrs Maloney didn't
plan on killing her husband, but when Mr Maloney told her that he was
leaving "this is going to be a bit of a shock to you I'm afraid, but
I've thought about it a good deal and I've decided the only thing to
do is tell you right away. I hope you won't blame me too much." She
flipped! This was her motivation for killing her husband. In this
story the weapon (the leg of lamb) was very unusual, as no one would
expect a leg of lamb to be used as a murder weapon, let alone a
pregnant women to be the murderer! The methods used to conceal the
crime was Mrs Maloney gave herself an alibi as she went to the grocers
after she had put the leg of lamb in the oven. She gave herself an
alibi because of her unborn baby "what about the child? What were the
laws about murderers with unborn children? Did they kill them
both-mother and child? Or did they wait until the tenth month? What
did they do?" By Mrs Maloney putting the leg of lamb in the oven it
destroyed all the evidence. Therefore Mrs Maloney had ruined all the
polices chances of finding out who and what killed Mr Maloney. There
were no witnesses of this murder.

For The Speckled Band the crime was premeditated as Dr Roylott planned
to kill Julia for her mother's money because when Julia married, the
money that was left to her in her mothers will would be given to her.
Helen's attempted murder nastily repeats the situation that Julia had
been in. Dr Roylott killed Julia and attempted to kill Helen because
he would be left poor after both girls had married. In this murder a
snake called an Indian Swamp Adder, which was brought from India by Dr
Roylott while he was on his travels, killed Julia, this was a very
unusual weapon (like the one in Lamb to the Slaughter) and would not
be spotted as the murder weapon very easily!

Dr Roylott put a lot of thought and time into the murder. All this
thought gave him the ideas of how to conceal the murder as he went to
great lengths to make sure that nobody found out that he had killed
Julia and was planning to kill Helen. He even followed Helen to Baker
Street where Sherlock Holmes lived just to warn him to stay out of his
business and to stop medalling in his private life. Dr Roylott hid the
snake in the safe, he secretly bolted Julia's bed to the floor and he
made repairs by putting the main part of his plan, which was a
ventilator and a bell rope in Julia's room. Neither the ventilator or
bell rope worked. Also the windows had shutters over them from the
outside, which could not be forced open as the hinges were made of
iron. There wasn't even a slit, which a knife could be passed to raise
the bar. As in Lamb to the Slaughter there were no witnesses of this
murder.

What is investigation? Is it jumping to conclusions that haven't been
popularly examined or inquired like the detectives in Lamb to the
Slaughter or is it ideas being tested out to prove they are either
right or wrong like Sherlock Holmes did in The Speckle Band? The
detectives in Lamb to the Slaughter jumped to conclusions " get the
weapon and you've got the man." As they presumed that the killer was a
man. Also they ruled Mrs Maloney out without really questioning her
enough. The detectives did check her alibi but what they didn't check
was the time that Mrs Maloney went to the grocers and the time of Mr
Maloney's death. Throughout the whole investigation Mrs Maloney
'acted' so upset, she was six months pregnant, her husband was a
police man and her life seemed so perfect with her husband " Mary
Maloney was waiting for her husband to come home from work." The
detectives weren't very thorough, as they just seemed to presume
everything without really checking it out. They did get something
right though as they thought the weapon was a heavy blunt instrument.
The reason why the detectives did get one success was because it was
obvious that a heavy blunt instrument had killed him. The reason why
the detectives failed mostly was because the didn't check things out
enough, they ruled Mrs Maloney out without questioning her enough,
they drank on the job and also they ate all the evidence there
possible was! So basically they were unprofessional, gullible and too
sympathetic towards Mrs Maloney as I think that if they were a little
bit harder on her she would of cracked and the police would of solved
the crime.

Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr Watson worked very differently to
the detectives in Lamb to the Slaughter. He always worked thoroughly
and when he suspected what had happened to Julia and what was suppose
to be happening to Helen he checked them out before telling anyone "I
should prefer to have clearer proofs before I speak." Even his
sidekick Dr Watson didn't know what he was thinking. Sherlock Holmes
used his method of deduction to solve the crimes, as he didn't have
all the forensics available to detectives in the future. Unlike most
detectives Sherlock Holmes worked because he loved what he did, he did
not work for the money "working as he did rather for the love of his
art than for the acquirement of wealth." He is very precise and
careful when he does his work and he even does research on the family
so he knows what is going on. Sherlock Holmes is very analytical with
clues and that's why he succeeded through out the whole investigation.
At this time Sherlock Holmes didn't think much of the police force.
All of his work was a success due to the way he worked. The successes
that he had were finding out what killed Julia and solving the crime
unlike the detectives in Lamb to the Slaughter. Another success of
Sherlock Holmes' work was that he gave justice to the family by the
snake killing Dr Roylott.

In Lamb to the Slaughter the clues seemed very hard to find to the
detectives. There wasn't that many clues like there were in The
Speckled Band but they were very simple clues. The clues for Lamb to
the Slaughter were the leg of lamb, congealed blood, Mrs Maloney's
alibi and the timing of her alibi. The only clue that the detectives
found was the congealed blood "Noonan discovered a small patch of
congealed blood on the dead mans head." The false clue was Mrs
Maloney's alibi. The detectives didn't find the other clues, which
were the leg of lamb and the timing of her alibi.

In the Speckled Band the clues seemed very simple to Sherlock Holmes,
but they weren't. They were quite a lot of clues but they weren't
obvious ones. The clues in The Speckled Band were the bell pull,
ventilator, iron safe, saucer of milk, the seat, dog lash, the
speckled band and the bed clamped to the floor. All the clues were
found but when Sherlock Holmes did find the clues he did not reveal
how and why the clues were important to the crime, but at the end of
the story he then revealed how and why they were and there were no
false clues.

Victims and villains in both stories are very different as in The
Speckled Band the villain, Dr Roylott, wad very mean and had already
got a criminal record for being violent "A series of disgraceful
brawls took place, two of which ended in the police court, until at
last he became the terror of the village, and the folks would fly at
his approach, for he is a man of immense strength, and absolutely
uncontrollable in his anger." His relationship with other people was
very isolated and if he did make friends with other people they were
people of the lower class such as gipsies and the gipsies were only
friends with Dr Roylott because he let them camp on his land. Dr
Roylott's physical appearance was very domineering. "He was so tall
was he that his hat actually brushed the cross-bar of the doorway, and
his breath seemed to span it across from side to side." He had a large
face, which was scared with a thousand wrinkles, burned yellow with
the sun, and marked with every evil passion. The author wants the
reader to feel that Dr Roylott is the villain of the story and be
prepared for the crimes committed as Julia has already been killed and
it seems like Helen is the next victim. However the readers are still
surprised at how he killed Julia, as there are no really obvious
clues.

The victim in The Speckled Band, Helen Stoner, was made out to be a
typical victim as she goes to Sherlock Holmes scared and nervous "it
is fear, Mr Holmes. It is terror. She raised her veil as she spoke and
we could see that she indeed in a pitiable state of agitation." Her
appearance reflects the state of her feelings. "Her face all drawn and
grey, with restless, frightened eyes, like these of some hunted
animal." Although Helen Stoner is still young this gives the
impression of having suffered a lot-the reader would guess that Dr
Roylott is to blame for this. "Her features and figure were those of a
women of thirty, but her hair was shot with premature grey, and her
expression was weary and haggard."

For Lamb to the Slaughter the villain, Mrs Maloney was very nice and
seemed to love her husband very much. Her behaviour was normal and
happy "there was a slow smiling air about her, and about everything
she did. The drop of the head as she bent over her sewing was
curiously tranquil." Mrs Maloney's appearance was glowing " her
skin-for this her sixth month with child-had acquired a wonderful
translucent quality, the mouth was soft, and the eyes, with their new
placid look, seemed larger, darker than before." I think her lifestyle
is very ordinary as she is a housewife, who has a loving husband and
she has a child on the way. The relationship that Mrs Maloney had with
others was friendly, she was always very nice to people and she wasn't
violent towards anyone except Mr Maloney and this shows that she
wasn't a typical villain.

The author presents Patrick Maloney as a strong but yet a weak
character. He is shown to be strong as hi is a police officer and he
also comes across as angry with Mrs Maloney. He comes across weak when
he tells Mrs Maloney that he is leaving her "there was a little muscle
moving near the corner of his left eye." Patrick Maloney was not a
typical Victim because he was a police officer. The readers aren't
prepared for the crimes committed as Mrs Maloney is six months
pregnant so it doesn't seem like she can kill anyone and Mr Maloney
was a police officer so I don't think it would occur it the readers
that he could get killed.

The Speckled Band was set in the 19th century we know this because of
the transport. When Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson travelled to Stoke
Moran Manor House they went on a steam train and then caught a
dogcart. There were many locations in The Speckled Band and these were
Holmes' flat, Stoke Moran Manor House and the pub called the Crown
Inn. The murder was set in a typical scene with a big mansion and a
storm. "It was a wild night. The wind was howling outside. And the
rain was beating and splashing against the windows."

The setting in Lamb to the Slaughter was just a typical house setting.
The wife waiting for her husband to get home from work so then she
could cook dinner for him. Lamb to the Slaughter was set in 20th
century and we can tell this because it has cars, fridges and
freezers. There were only two locations in Lamb to the Slaughter and
these were Mr and Mrs Maloney s home and grocers. The plot moves very
quickly as the murder is impulsive so everything happens suddenly and
readers of this time liked this, as it was surprising. The murder was
set was in a modern 20th century setting.

The Speckled Band was a traditional story as the murder was in a
mansion on a stormy night. Also the story had lots of clues in it,
which were not too obvious to the readers. Sherlock Holmes never
revealed any of his ideas till he had deduced all the other options,
not even to his side kick Dr Watson or Helen Stoner which makes the
readers think for themselves and also want to read on to find out what
happens at the end of the story "I should prefer to have clearer proof
before I speak." In the Speckled Band Sherlock Holmes solved the
mystery, which was because he used his powers of deduction and always
checked his ideas thoroughly before speaking them to anyone else. This
meant Sherlock Holmes was always in charge. When the Speckled Band was
written readers of this period expected there to be no loose endings
or unanswered questions so at the end of the story Sir Arthur Conan
Doyle ties up any loose ends and answers any unanswered questions. He
explains to the readers exactly what killed Julia and how, right at
the end of the story. Also the readers of that period would expect the
villain to be killed as it would give justice to the victims family
and the readers would like this as it would be a satisfactory ending.

For Lamb to the Slaughter the story was the opposite to The Speckled
Band as all the action is very quick, there is no hanging around
because the story only has a short introduction and then the action
starts. However the introduction is very unusual as it starts by
describing the home of Mr and Mrs Maloney "the room was warm and
clean, the curtains drawn, the two table lamps a light-hers and the
one by the empty chair opposite. On the sideboard behind her, two tall
glasses, soda water, whisky. Fresh ice cubes in the thermos bucket."
It also explains how Mrs Maloney is waiting for her husband to get
home "Mary Maloney was waiting for her husband to come home from
work." The viewpoint comes from Mrs Maloney, the murderer. Unlike The
Speckled Band, the story ends with questions unanswered; it also has a
twist of the detectives eating the evidence right at the end and an
irony from the detectives "Probably right under our very noses." The
readers are left with a question like; does she get away with it? Also
throughout the story the readers are asking questions like; what's the
crime, is she going to get away with it and what will happen to her
baby? Mrs Maloney is actually asking herself the last question too
"what about her child? What were the laws about murderers with unborn
children? Did they kill them both-mother and child? Or did they wait
until the tenth month? What did they do?" As Lamb to the Slaughter was
written later than The Speckled Band the readers prefer all the
unanswered questions, the twist, the irony and even that the murderer
didn't get caught or the family of Patrick Maloney didn't get justice
for his murder.

In Lamb to the Slaughter Roald Dahl jumps straight into the action
after only a short introduction to the story. This means that the
questions, such as what's he going to tell her and what's she going to
do come almost straight away. This creates suspense and makes the
readers want to read on. I think for a short story, Lamb to the
Slaughter is organised well as everything happens quickly. Lamb to the
Slaughter was written after The Speckled Band and I think the story
reflects this as it is short, the suspense comes quickly and the
ending leaves you wondering and probably suspecting that she gets away
with it.

The Speckled Band has a slow introduction, which explains what
happened in the past and what Helen Stoner is afraid is going to
happen in the future. I think this long introduction draws the readers
in and makes the readers want to know what is going to happen, so like
in Lamb to the Slaughter the questions start early on. However I don't
think the suspense comes till much later on in the story "Holmes for a
moment was a startled as I. His hand closed like a vice upon my wrist
in his agitation. Then he broke into a low laugh and put his lips to
my ear." This keeps the readers reading as I think they know that the
suspense will come. The story is organised well for a long story as
right up until the end it keeps the readers guessing and asking
questions. When The Speckled Band was written the readers of that
period liked things to be explained to them, they also liked the
victim to get justice by the villain being caught.

The language in Lamb to the Slaughter is modern. The sentences are
short "Hullo, darling" and there are no complex words. The people that
read this story didn't have to have been travelling and they didn't
have to be of a particular social class. The sentences are also very
simple " Mary Maloney was waiting for her husband to come home from
work."

The language in The Speckled Band is old fashioned and complicated and
the sentences are long "in glancing over my notes of the seventy odd
cases in which I have during the last eight years studied the methods
of my friend Sherlock Holmes, I find many tragic, some comic, a large
number merely strange, but none commonplace; for, working as he did
rather for the love of his art than for the acquirement of wealth, he
refused to associate himself with any investigation which did not tend
towards the unusual, and even the fantastic." The intended readers for
this story were the educated people as they address each other by
surname but to a woman Sherlock Holmes would call her miss or madam.
This was very appropriate for the readers of this time.

Out of both the stories I preferred Lamb to the Slaughter. I think
this is because there was more action, it had an irony "probably right
under our very noses" and it was shorter that The Speckled Band, which
I thought, made it more effective. I felt that The Speckled Band story
dragged on a bit, even though it had a lot of suspense.

Both stories would appeal to very different readers as The Speckled
Band would probably appeal to adults and Lamb to the Slaughter would
probably appeal to readers today who like varied endings with a twist.
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