Comparing Sherlock Holmes 'the Speckled Band' and Roald Dahl's 'Lamb to the Slaughter'

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Comparing the two stories ‘The Adventures of the Speckled Band’ and ‘The Lamb to the Slaughter’

Within this essay I will be comparing and contrasting the two detective stories ‘The Adventures of the Speckled Band’ and ‘The Lamb to the Slaughter’, referring to the structure, language and characterisation. ‘The speckled band’ was written in 1892 by Sir Arthur Doyle, he was qualified as a doctor which gave him a medical perspective for all his stories. ‘The lamb to the slaughter’ was written in 1952 by Roald Dahl most famous for writing children’s stories although he did write adult material such as the book ‘The lamb to the slaughter featured in ‘The tales of the unexpected’. Detective stories mainly base themselves around solving murder cases; the reader is taken on a journey to find who is guilty and their motive which is normally along the lines of greed, loneliness and hatred.

‘The speckled band’ is written in 1st person and the story is narrated by Dr Watson, Sherlock’s partner and dear friend. The story begins with Dr Watson looking over his old notes and introducing us to his views and feelings on Sherlock Holmes and his amazing talent for solving murder mysteries. We are taken ba

He also uses individual words which manifold wickedness of human hard, ‘horror’ to emphasis the atmosphere. The language is typical of the Victorian era as everyone spoke very formally.

The main characters in the speckled band are all portrayed as stereotypical men and women of the Victorian era with typical values of that time. For example men were thought to be of more importance and had authority over women. Sherlock has a strong personality portrayed at points like when he says ‘you must not fear’ indicating he is strong and will save everyone. The men of Victorian time where made out to be very intelligent, Sherlock ponders the details of the case whilst staring into the fire. Sherlock has the answers to everything and notices the finest details. Whereas the women in this case Helen Stoner, are portrayed as helpless, pathetic and dependant on men. The female personality emphasises male characters ability to handle a situation. The fact that Helen Stoner lives in ‘fear’ and desperately needs Sherlock’s help to solve the case conveys her dependence on men.

The lamb to the slaughter has a lot shorter snappier sentences leaving room for imagination. In comparison to the speckled band it is a lot easier to follow and quicker to read. This allows the reader to imagine the story in their own way. The short sentences build up the tension bracing you for the sudden event. At the beginning of the story the sentences are slightly longer and more descriptive then the main section in the middle. ‘The room was warm and clean, the curtains drawn, the two table lamps alight – hers and the one by the empty chair opposite.’ The longer sentences at the beginning make the reader feel as thought they are there observing the description.

The most dramatic point in the story is when Mary Maloney killed her husband with a leg of lamb, it happens very unexpectedly. Even though the event took place early on in the story Roald Dahl is able to keep the reader interested because they would want to know her reaction and he outcome. The story ends with the detectives eating the murder weapon without realising they were eating the evidence. The last sentence of the story is ‘And in the other room, Mary Maloney began to giggle’ this describes her ironic laughter and the fact that she was able to fool the detectives.

I personally preferred The Lamb to the Slaughter because it was much more understandable therefore more enjoyable. Although S

When reading the two short stories I noticed that in the Lamb to the slaughter the story was being told by a narrator and we were following the story though Mary Maloney’s eyes and how she feels, In The Speckled Band the story was being told by doctor Watson and how he feels about Sherlock Holmes and the case...
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