Comparing the Way in Which Helen Stoner and Mary Maloney are Treated in The Speckled Band and Lamb to Slaughter
This essay will consist of a study of the short story, ‘The Speckled
Band’ by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle written in 1292. Short stories are
condensed fictional narratives, which have been popular since the
nineteenth century and still remain so today. They typically concern
a relatively small number of characters involved in a single event or
situation. There is usually only one thermatic focus, aimed at
provoking a single emotional response from the reader. Short stories
may be created or written for magazine articles but have also
developed into a real significant work of prose fiction. The dialogue
is used very carefully in a short story due to a lack of space for
extended development of conversation and narrative. The length of
short stories vary.
The two story I will be looking at is from the murder mystery genre.
This is a category in itself. Murder mysteries hold certain
connotations that we constantly associate with the genre, for example,
a detective, a victim, a culprit and often believers. The narrative
is often concentrated around an investigation, but may offer a variety
of view points i.e. from the detectives point view, from the victims
point of view, or from the murderers point of view.
Due to the different times that the two stories, I have been asked to
analyse, were written in the demands of society would be totally
different, causing actions and responses to be different. The 1800’s
expressed a repressed society for women. Their lives were limited and
activities often had to be supervised by, whereas the late 1950’s, the
feminist movement was at a high, offering women greater opportunities
and high demand for equality.
Both stories offer different points of view, ‘Lamb to Slaughter’ the
story tends to come from the murderers point of view, Mary Maloney,
and how she plans to cover up the murder of her husband. However, in
‘The Speckled Band’ it tends to come from the detectives point of
view, Sherlock Holmes and his plans to investigate the situation,
concentrating less on the women and more on the investigation due to
s. Roald Dahl’s story is more modern and female concentrated and is
from the male point of view with a more important female character
again due to the period of time it was written.
Roald Dahl begins his story by creating a rather cosy picture of Mrs.
Maloney and her role as a loving wife caring for her husband,
“She love to luxuriate in
the presence of this man.”
The story ‘Lamb to Slaughter’ is based around one scene, Mary’s
house. Doyle’s story concentrates more on the male character, and
Holmes expresses the risk that Helen has taken, by seeking his help,
“This is very deep business”.