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In this essay i am going to compare two short stories, and see if they
are traditional murder mystery stories. I want to see if the stories
also follow the conventions of a murder mystery story. One story is
called 'Lamb to the Slaughter' and the other is 'The Speckled Band'.
The story 'Lamb to the Slaughter' ('LTS') was written in 1954, which
is over sixty years ago. 'The Speckled Band' ('TSB') was written in
1892. Roald Dahl wrote the story 'LTS'. This story does not follow the
conventions of a murder mystery story. Arthur Conan Doyle wrote 'TSB'.
This is a murder mystery story. It follows the basic conventions of
murder mysteries. I will try to show the differences between the two
stories, and show how the stories have different genres.
Genre is a type. Geenre is a french word which means Type. Many things
have genres. Things we use to entertain ourselfs with, or pass time
with, have a genre. For example, films, music, books, games and many
other things have genres. Genre is important because it lets people
know what they are doing. If someone is watching a film they would wnt
to know what genre it is. It could be a horror,thriller, comedy or
anything else. So this helps them to know what type of film they are
watching, but it would not give away any part of the film. Genre is
useful for writers, film makers or artists. They would know what area
to target, and they can make money.
I am trying to find out if these two stories, 'LTS' and 'TSB', are
murder mysery stories. Murder mysteries have conventions. They are
basic requirments and these are:
-The Detective is the main focus
-The reader/viewer (if a film) is set a challenge or challanges
-Usually set ater the murder
-Gradually builds tention
-Denoment (crime is solved) Ending
-Then ending has a moral
Every murder mystery has a basic story line and must have most of the
conventions to fit the genre.
In 'LTS' Mrs Maloney is portrayed as a normal wife. She is not
presented as a murderer. At the beginning of the story it said she
"...glance up at the clock" and
"...was waiting for her husband."
When he came back home she
"Took his coat."
"Walked over and made the drinks."
This is what any normal wife would do. She then asked,
"Shall i get your slippers?"
and she wanted to make him some dinner. She appears as though she is a
loving caring wife. She does not look like a suspect for any type of
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"...loved to luxuriate in the presence of this man...loved him for the
way he sat loosely...she loved the intent, far look in his eye." He
has discribed Mary as someone who loves here man very much. Also he
presented Mary as someone who would do anything for her husband, she
kept on offering to cook even thought he kept saying
Mary is not a suspect for murder. This may be an advantage for readers
because something unexpected happened. Mary murdered her husband. This
because patricj told her something. She oviously did not like what he
said so, she went to the kitchen and a lge of lam. She used that as a
tool and knock it on his head. This killed him. This story is not
really a typical murder mystery story. There is no build up to the
murder. The muirder also happens to the end of the story. This is not
found in a typical murder mystery story. A murder mystery story should
have a murder at the beginnig. It should have a build up. Tension
would rise up to the murder. This story does not follow the
conventions of the genre. It basically does a quick murder.
Dr roylott compared to Mary is a more llikey suspect of murder. He is
a very strange, strong and wicked man. From when he was first
mentioned he was discribed as a strange and peculiar man.
He is compared to a beast. Helen Stoner, who is the twin of the victim
and also the step daugther of Dr Roylott, described him to Shelock
Holmes. She said,
"He beat his native butler to death" and
"he is a mann of immense strenght, and absolutely uncntrollable in
Dr Roylott is a wicked man. He had killedd people and had a hot
temper. He is a very odd man. He kept
"a cheetah and a baboon"
in his house. This is very unusual and shows that he is not normal. He
asolated himself from overs and locked himself in his room all day.
The first apperance of Dr Roylott shows how angry and short tempered
he may be. He barges into Sherlock Holmes office. He was wearin a
" black top hat, a long frock-coat...pair of high gaiter."
The authour discribed him as
"tall..that his hat brushed the cross-bar of the doorway. He had a
face with thousands of wrinkles! His face was also burnt yellow" Dr
Roylott came to Sherlock Holmes' office to warn him and threaten him.
He told Shelock Holmes that he shouldn't
"dare to meddle with my affairs."
He then said that
"i am a dangerous man to fall foul of."
He then demonstrated this by taking a poker and bending it. His
strenght was shown by this act. It also signaled that he mean't what
Dr Roylott is an angry man who looks like he has something to hide by
doing this. He is then made a suspect in the story to the readers and
also to Sherlock Holmes in the story. This is a complete contrats to
Mary. She act like any normal wife, and is the least suspect of the
story. These characters are completely different. This effects the
story because in 'TSB' the readers are set challenges to who was the
murderer, but in 'LTS' th readers know who the killer is. THis is not
part of the conventions of a murder mystery story. 'TSB' is a murder
myster in this case because it sets the readers challanges to find out
who the murder is, why they killed the victim, when they kill them and
how. This then follow the convetions of a murder mystery story, and
this is done simply but the actions of characters.
In 'LTS' Mary Moloney killed her has without planing it. Her husband
told her news which she obviously did not like. What her husband said
to her was not clear. But things indicate that her husbadn wanted her
to leave her while she was pregnant. The detectives which were on the
case of Patrick Maloney knew that Patrick was kileed witha heavy tool.
They never had a clue about why he was killed. They couldn't even find
the evidence that killed Patrick. In the end they ate the evidence
which was a leg of lamb. This was becasue of their unprofessionalism
and their incompetence. Mary asked if they wanted o eat what was in
the oven. They said yes. Mary did a good job to dispose the evidense.
This is not typical of a murder mystery story. You don't find things
like these in a m urder mystery story. In 'TSB' Dr Roylott killed his
step daughter because he wanted some money which was left over for the
family. He was even planing to kill Miss Maloney, daughter becasue he
didn't want to share the money. He was greedy and wanted all the money
to himself. Dr Roylott very intelligently killed Miss Stoners Step
sister with a snake. He trained it with a whip, to go up the
ventalator, and go down the bell and to strike and kill. This was a
very clever way to kill someone. His snake was kept in a box and
hidden so that no one could find it and suspect he was the murderer.
He left the whip out which was an evidence and got him caught. He did
not hide it. It was found by SherlocK Holmes and this lead him to
carry on investigating until he got an answer. Sherlock Holmes never
knew about the snake until the very end. Nethier did the readers know
about the snake until the vey end. This help to built up tension.
'LTS' did not have any mysteries about who killed Patrick. The readers
knew who killed him. They even knew how. This is not found in a murder
mystery story and this story would not fit into that genre. TSB' is
very different to that. It kept the readers in suspense and left them
guessing until the murder was solved. This is found in a typical
murder mystery story and it would fit into that genre.
In 'LTS' the detectives were Noonan and O'Mally. They did all the
basic things a police officer should do. They confirmed that Patrick
was dead, they asked Mary what happened and they ask for a statement
from Mary. They went to check up at the shop to see if she went there.
The corspe was taken away and photographs were taken, finger prints
were also taken. Everyone then left. O'Mally and Noonan were the only
officers left. Patrick was found with a blood clot at the back of his
head. So Jack Noonan concluded that patrick had been killed with a
blow to the back of his head with an heavy object. They tried looking
forthi weapon, but when they could not find it, thaty were fed up and
they stoped. Mary asked for a drink and they gave her one. She then
"Why don't you have one yourself."
Noonan and O'Malley were not allowed to take a drink on duty, but they
still said yes. After that they ate the lamb which was in th oven and
had been cooked by Mary. This shows that the detectives were not
serious. The readers would think that the officers are dumb and very
gullible. The two detectives don't really treat Mary and her husbadns
case seriously.They look as if they don't care about their Job.These
are things which should not happen and it show a lack of
unprofessionalism and it has an effect on the genre of the story.
Things like this are not expected to be in a typical murde mystery.
When Dr Roylott bursts into Sherlock Holmes office. Sherlock Holmes
treated him in a normal respectable way. He also treated him as
someone he had an appointmeant with. Then when he heard Dr Roylott
talk he smartly and respectably said
"When you go close the door."
So he was telling himt o leave without any conflict. We learn that
Sherlock Holmes is a clever man. he knew how to deal with situations
with his mind, and not with action. It shows his intelligence. The act
of Dr Roylott made hi a suspect in the eyes o Sherlock Holmes. Readers
would take him as a serious detective. The way he talked, and acted
contributed to this. Sherlock Holmes and his partner Watson,
investigated into the case of the murder with great detail. he used
all the evidence he had, so that his options, or his suspects and
ideas could expand and could make more sense. For example, he
suggested that because there was some money being left over. Dr
Roylott killed Miss Stoners sister because he wanted all of the money.
Even though Sherlock Holmes collected all the evidence he still wanted
to go back to see if anything else could be found which could help.
This is becasue he hadn't come up with a solid conclusion and needed
it. This shows the readers that he is comitted to his job and will not
stop until he find the solution. His attitude makes the story fit in
the genre of a murder mystery story. this is because at the end of the
story the mystery is solved. Compared to 'LTS' it is a typical murder
mystery story. The two stories 'LTS' and 'TSB' are two completely
different types of genres. The stories were written 60 years between
each other. The Styles are different, the language is different and
the genres are different too. Roald Dahl is author who wrote alot of
children stories. He also wrote tales of the unexpected. Arthur Conan
Doyle wrote books which were targeted at adults. They were mostly
murder mysteries. The Language which both authors use is different.
Roald Dahl used simpliy understanding language. It is more mordern,
more understanding, and less discriptive. Arthur Conan Doyle wrote his
book in 1892 so the languagehe used would have been less common, and
harder to understand. He would have used words, which are used today.
For example he used words like 'defray' ,
'Would fray', 'Aperture' and other words.
'Defray' mean to make good, repay.
'Would Fain' means would like to.
'Aperture' means opening.
If thes wors were read by people today, people would not understand
it. They would have some difficulty trying to. Whereas Roald Dahl used
simple langusge like,
"Patrick!.........how are you doing darling"
Arthur Conan Doyle did use description in his language, and used
metaphors and similies aswell.
"...gave him some what the resemblance to a fierce old bird of pray"
Roald Dahl didn't really use metaphors. He only discribed things plain
and simple, for example,
"There was a slow smiling air about her."
'LTS' broke some of themurder mystery convetions. First of all the
detectives were not focus. Mary Moloney was the main focus. The
detectives were mentioned breifly and did not have alot to do with the
story. The murder happened at the middle or towards the end. This is
unusual. Normally the murder happens at the beginnig of the story or
is mentioned at the beginnig of the story. At the end of every murder
mystery story the detectives find the murderer. The murder case was
never solved in the end. Murder mystery stories have basic plots and
conventions. If a story does not have it , it doesn't fit into the
'TSB' is a traditional Murder mystery story. It has all the
conventions of the genre. Shelock holmes is the main character. He
deos his job as a detective well. There is also great detail of him in
the story. The way he investigates his case makes a reader think about
who the murderer could be. The story made alot of options of who the
murderer could be. This sets challenges. The murder happened at the
beginning and after that tension was bult up till the end, where the
crime was solved. The murderer got caught because he was so greddy. He
also tried to be too smart and this also got him caught out. In the
end it all back fired on him. 'TSB' is a typical traditional murder
'LTS' is not a murder mystery story compared to 'TSB'. 'LTS' was
horter and had less detail about the detectives, and the murder case.
The murder case wasnot even soved. The story did not realy have a
moral and did not have a denoumenat ending. The murder in it was not
planned. The detectives did not do their job well, and the whole
stucture did not really set any challanges. This story is not a
typical murder mystery story.
'TSB' compared to 'LTS' is a typical murder mystery story. It follows
the conventions of a murder mystery story form the beginning. The
murder happens at the start of the story. The detectives do their jobs
well their way of doing there job sets challeges to the readers. The
crime in the end is solved , the murderer is found, and justice is
done. So clearly 'LTS is not a murder mystert, but more of a take of
the unexpected. 'TSB' is clearly a murder mystery story.