Lamb To The Slaughter And The Speckled Band Analysis Essay
Lamb To The Slaughter and The Speckled Band are two murder stories taken from two very different perspectives. Lamb to the slaughter is by Roald Dahl set in the 1950’s it tells the story of a pregnant house wife who waits at home everyday longing for her husband to return from work so that she might have some company, her name is Mrs Maloney. The impression we get from here is almost that of a victim and the reader is taken completely by surprise when she reacts to her husband’s cold heartedness one night.
Mr Maloney comes back from work and seems to have other things on his mind, he seems cold and bitter about something. Mrs Maloney tries to be amiable to him as she tries to carry on as normal, then he comes out with it, he wants a divorce. She sit there for a while and then just as before tries to carry on normally. She offer’s him a leg of lamb for supper, but after he snaps at her she takes drastic action. Grabbing the leg of lamb she swings it round on hits him on the head killing him instantly.
Suddenly this woman who we almost see as wet and weak gains some attitude. She is no longer the victim, she is now the hunter! The Speckled Band comes from the other side of the spectrum completely, written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle it is set in 1883 and follows a most perplexing mystery with that most famous of detectives, Sherlock Holmes. Unlike Lamb To The Slaughter this is a classic murder mystery written in a very different style, very much in the period it was written. The story follows Holmes on a mystery with bizarre twists.
When Holmes is approached by Helen Stoner, a young women who is due to get married shortly about certain strange events that led up to the mysterious death of her sister before her wedding. He has to go through the usual detective routine and discovers the culprit just before it’s too late. Holmes is most definitely a typical detective; in fact he was one of the original detectives. Throughout the book he manages to make small, but vital observations that help him eventually work out the mystery.
A small example of this is how he works out that Helen Stoner has travelled by Dog Cart just by looking at the mud on her coat. Stoner is also your typical victim; she is a young woman, portrayed as defenceless and scared not knowing what is going on. In comparison to Holmes the two detectives in Lambs to the slaughter are incredibly stupid as they end up eating the evidence using no clever annotations of the situation. Holmes out wits and out smarts every criminal he comes across where as the two officers in Lamb to the slaughter appear to be blind to everything being put in front of them.
At the same time the victims and murders appear to completely switch rolls. In Lamb to the Slaughter the victim seems to be much more the sort of person you would expect to commit the crime, while the actual murderer still seems to be the victim. The Specked Band is very different in contrast, the victim is a young women almost helpless and powerless to do anything with out the help of Holmes. The murderer is also a stereotype in the Speckled Band, an evil man who plots and uses very clever techniques to get his victims.
The backgrounds to each story are also in complete contrast with one another. The homely background in Lamb to the Slaughter is the last place you would expect a murder to take place especially as the murderer seems to be a gentle mild women who has a lot of love for her husband. Typical things that are said such as “Hello love, how was your day at work” show this “What would you like for dinner I have some lamb? “. However the change in her attitude is enormous and she kills him with a meal, which she was going to lovingly prepare for him as things change very quickly.
The cold heartedness of the life in which Helen Stoner lives in the Speckled Band is much more the typecast environment that you would expect a murder to take place in. The use of comedy and suspense in both stories makes the reader want to carry on, especially with a story of this length. The length means you can finish the story within an hour knowing the out come and understanding how it all took place. This attributes the good qualities of both books and helps the reader to keep their attention longer.
The Speckled band had many a moment where you didn’t know what was going to happen next and in places this made it very exciting. It is almost the blandness of the behaviour of Mrs Maloney that keeps the reader interested in Lamb to the slaughter, the way she makes an alibi by visiting the local shop and almost continuing everyday life making no one aware of what she has just done. The ending to Lamb of the slaughter was humorous and unexpected, with the detectives actually eating the evidence Mrs Maloney has been able to make up possibly the best cover up ever!
The ending in the speckled band also had a twist, not of who the murderer was, but how he had performed the murder. Both were good endings and thoroughly enjoyable. In most respects Lamb to the Slaughter seems the most successful to me, it contains humour, grief and a great turn around of normal murder mysteries, and I really enjoyed it. The speckled band was also impressive and the end twist really added to it, but it didn’t keep me as griped to it as Lamb to the Slaughter did.