Comparing Lamb to the Slaughter and The Speckled Band
I am comparing two short stories "Lamb to the Slaughter" by Roald Dahl
and "The Speckled Band" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. " Lamb to the
Slaughter" is a modern 20th Century novel as apposed to "The Speckled
Band" which is pre-twentieth century.
"The Speckled Band" is a typical murder mystery with everything you
would expect it to have. First of all a victim and a villain, a
detective, an eerie setting, suspects, a murder weapon, red herrings,
a side-kick and a motive.
"Lamb to the Slaughter" on the other hand is more modern and follows a
different storyline but still entices the reader. It does this by
Dahl's black humour and the atmosphere he creates.
Dahl allows us to participate in the story straight away. Roald Dahl
creates an atmosphere of mystery and suspense in the story by the way
he sets the scene in the first paragraph where he is telling us what
is in the room and where it is. He creates atmosphere when he says
"Now and again she would glance up at the clock." Roald Dahl builds up
the tension by making it seem that she is going to get caught; he
keeps us hanging on in suspense. I didn't guess the policeman were
going to eat the lamb because at the start and all the way through the
story I thought that Mrs Maloney would be the one to be killed not her
husband who happens to be a policeman. This sets the scene and engages
with the reader by making it seem like you are there.
Dahl describes the setting, the lonely atmosphere of the room and
house. Atmosphere is created right from the start when he says "The
room was warm and clean, the curtains drawn" in the first line which
paints a picture of a loving family in the readers mind.
It doesn't seem like a typical murder mystery and that murder is going
to be committed. There is no lightening, spooky house or mist etc
which you would associate with a murder mystery. Dahl then goes on to
describe Mrs Maloney telling us everything that happened in great
detail "the mouth was soft, and the eyes, with their new placid look".
The author points things out to the reader about Mrs Maloney. He
describes her look as "curiously tranquil". There is a slight sense
that it is not normal for her to look this way and there is a false
sense of security, that Dahl has lulled us into. The tension then
increases when Mr Maloney returns home, with the use of senses in his
"Tyres on the gravel" "car door slamming" and "the key turning in the
lock". Roald Dahl tells us everything that happens step-by-step using
deep description which is deliberate.
When Mr Maloney enters the house there is a difference in the
greeting, "Hullo darling she said" and "Hullo he answered". There is
suspense being built when Dahl gives us little hints to what is going
to happen but...