Comparing The Speckled Band by Sir Arthur Concan Doyle and Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl
The Speckled Band by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, which was written in the
late 19th century, and Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl, which was
written in the 20th century are both detective stories in which
readers have different expectations of them. This essay will compare
and contrast the two.
Dr Watson, who is the detective's companion, narrates the 'Speckled
Band'. The story is about the mysterious death of a young woman, Julia
Stoner, stepdaughter of Dr Grimesby Roylott. The mysterious thing
about the death was that there was no mark on the body and so the
death was unexplained. The victim's twin-sister, Helen Stoner, comes
to Sherlock Holmes seeking help and answers to the cause of her
sister's death. She firstly tells Holmes about her stepfather's life
and violence and then about her sister's extraordinary death and fears
the same fate since she has to move to the room Julia died.
They arrange to meet in Helen's old mansion where Holmes and Watson
inspect the room in which Julia died. There they spend a tense, nerve
racking and an anxious night investigating the mystery.
'Lamb to the Slaughter' is narrated in third person. It is about the
death of a detective called Patrick Maloney, husband of Mary Maloney.
Patrick comes home from work and is tired so he sits down. Patrick's
wife Mary who is 6 months pregnant hassles Patrick and insists on
eating his dinner. Patrick refuses and confesses something shocking,
but Mary is still willing to cook dinner. Mary goes to the kitchen and
pulls out a piece of lamb from the freezer. She goes back into the
sitting room and without thinking or even having any doubts she swings
the frozen lamb with great strength and blows it at the back of
Patrick's head, killing him instantly. Mary then puts the piece of
lamb in the oven. After that Mary invents an alibi and when the
detectives arrive she cunningly feeds the murder weapon (piece of
lamb) to them. With this Mary Maloney evades a capital sentence and
the story remains unexplained.
The detective in the 'Speckled Band' is the narrator, Dr Watson's
companion, Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes in a well-known detective
in the story. He strongly believes that there is always a logical
explanation behind every mystery. Sherlock Holmes is arrogant but
brilliant and wants to prove that he is better than everyone else. We
know this from what he does, the way he speaks and what Watson says
about him. For example, Dr Watson says that he admires "the rapid
deductions, as swift as institutions, with which he unravelled the
problems which were submitted to him". Then a little later, we see
Holmes making logical deductions to work out how Helen Stoner
travelled to see him.