Last Updated 19 Dec 2022

An Analysis and a Comparison of Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl and Speckled Band by Arthur Conan Doyle

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Roald Dahl wrote Lamb to the slaughter in 1954, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote Speckled Band in 1892, that is around 62 yrs apart which would make the stories slightly different to each other because they were wrote in two different centuries.

Roald Dahl was born in 1916 and died in 1990, Roald Dahl was most famous for writing children stories but he did also write some books for adults like the tales of the unexpected which lamb to the slaughter featured in. The characters in Roald Dahl's books only ever appeared once. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born in 1859 and died in 1930, Arthur Conan Doyle was a trained doctor which would have been helpful in writing his stories as he would know the medical view on his cases and that would have helped him to write his books which featured Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson what makes this book different to the speckled Band is that Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson appear more than once in Arthur Doyle's books.

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 and also he added what he thought might of happened. Also The Speckled Band seems to be a true Murder Mystery because we don't know who killed Helen ́s sister so it is a mystery to us as well as the characters and that adds suspense to the story and also is more interesting as we try to work out who is the murderer and how they killed the person, but in Lamb to the Slaughter we knew that Mary killed her husband and the only suspense was if the detectives will work out that Mary killed him. The stories both have different layouts and are written differently, In Lamb to the Slaughter all of the action takes place in one night and In one house, In The Speckled band the story is set around eight years from the moment the twins mother dies, the way it is told allows the story to swift back and forth in time. The Speckled Band is different to Lamb to the Slaughter in the way it is set In the Band Helen goes and gets Sherlock Holmes but in Slaughter Mary the murderer calls the police. Even though the stories are very different there are some similarities between them, both of the stories had family members kill the victim, this must be a good plot to use as it adds suspense to the story and intrigues the readers on how they could have hurt someone they both love.

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I think the murderers were both cleverly described in the stories, in the lamb to the slaughter Roald Dahl described Mary Maloney as a loving women, who cared and loved her husband a lot, n

ow and again she would glance up at the clock, but without anxiety, merely to please herself with the thought that each minute gone by made it nearer to the time when he would come. Mary and her husband seem to have a good life together and their life seems to be on a routine.

When the clock said ten minutes to five, she began to listen, and a few minutes later, punctually as always, she heard the tyres on the gravel outside. The way they are described is as if the same thing happens each week and every day at the same time. I think Roald Dahl does this to make it seem out of the ordinary when Patrick Maloney did not want to go out to supper on a Thursday. This would make us think something is about to happen what does not usually happen, Roald Dahl is very clever by the way he doesn't tell us what Mr Maloney told Mrs Maloney this adds a little suspense to the story by making the readers wonder what Patrick could have done so bad that would make her want to kill her husband, Mary tries to carry on as normal after finding out the news, The murder was unplanned as she acted on the moment, this was different to the murder in The Speckled Band as that took years of planning.

The planning of the murder and attempted murder involved the placing of the air vent and the fake bell pull and bolting down the bed to the floor, Also Dr Roylott had to train the snake to do as he wanted and to make sure that the snake would not bite him. There is one similarity between the two murderers they are both very clever, they both knew what they had to do to cover the murder up from the detectives, When Mary killed Patrick she knew she had to get a alibi, Mary used her husbands job cleverly she remembered what her husband had told her about murders and used it to her advantage. I don't think Mary would have thought about getting an alibi if it wasn't for the unborn baby she was carrying. Dr Roylott knew that no doctor would be able to see the snake bites on the girl's neck, Dr Roylott was a very clever man but he never thought though everything, the

girls locked the doors and bolted the windows shut, so the girl could not have been murdered by any one because the room was locked and no one could get in so it had to be some one in the room or another way they could get access to the room. Dr Roylott done the murders for money but Mary done the murder though anger and being hurt by someone she truly loved, and still loved

When she saw him lying there on the floor with his legs doubled up and one arm twisted back underneath his body, it really was rather a shock. All the old love and longing for him welled up inside her, and she ran over to him and began to cry her heart out.

In both of the stories there are detectives, who try to solve the murder. In the lamb to the slaughter the detectives seem to be unprofessional by drinking the whisky and not suspecting Mary Maloney because they knew who she was, when every thing was pointing at her, there was no sign of a break in or a struggle. It seems Roald Dahl was making fun of the police by not Making them do there job properly by letting Mary stay in the room where the murder took place without any one watching her where she could have done anything in there, and eating the meat which was the weapon.

Probably right under our very noses. What you think, Jack? In the Speckled Band the detectives are described differently, Sherlock Holmes is put across to us a very smart and clever


I observe the second half of a return ticket in the palm of your left glove I think he is described that way to us because Watson is telling the story and this affects our view of him. The writer wants us to think that Sherlock and Watson are a good team and that Sherlock Holmes can handle any case together.

There are many more differences than similarities between the two stories. I think this is because the writers are two very different people and they have different backgrounds, Roald Dahl mostly wrote for children and that perhaps it is very light hearted the way that he has pops at the detectives, but Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a doctor and knew all the medical views of the cases which makes his books more real and perhaps he had a more of a respect towards the police than Roald Dahl did. The stories are different because of the time they were written, Roald Dahl wrote about a women killing her husband and that may have been less common in 1892 and that is why Conan Doyle wrote about the women being a victim and her stepfather killing the girls.


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