Sherlock Holmes & The Speckled Band / Lamb To The Slaughter
"Lamb to the slaughter", by Roald Dahl, and "The Speckled Band" by
Arthur Conan Doyle share many features, despite the difference in eras
in which they were written.
Each story has its own distinctive style when creating both tension
and an atmosphere of suspense.
"The Speckled Band" has a sense of urgency about it, yet manages to
build up suspense until the climax of the story.
"I have reasons to know....which tend to make the matter even more
terrible than the truth."
This quote, found in the first paragraph, immediately begins creating
an atmosphere for the story, and intriguing the reader as to what the
narrator (Dr. Watson) is talking about. The reader will now want to
continue reading to find out the truth.
Doyle also uses other character's speech to add to the tension:
"It is not cold which makes me shiver...it is fear, Mr. Holmes. It is
At this point, the events have not been explained - this character
(Miss Stoner) describing how she is feeling inceases the tension, as
the readers do not yet know the full situation; only that they should
be scared of whatever it is. The use of the word "terror" helps to
emphasise the point - 'fear' may not be strong enough, but following
it with 'terror' helps to reinforce the situation to the reader.
"You must not fear...we shall soon set matters right."
As Sherlock Holmes says this, it may cast a doubt over the reader's
mind - if a character issues a statement proclaiming that things will
turn out well, there is a concept that the opposite may happen
instead. All this further adds to the need to read more, as the reader
will now want to see if Holmes is indeed correct.
"The very horror of my situation lies in the fact that my fears are so
vague, and my decisions depend entirely upon small points."
Miss Stoner declares this when asked about her problem, and her reply
only enhances the mystery. The fact that she has no proof, nor any
idea of what is actually going on means that anything could happen in
"In a fit of anger...[Dr. Roylott] beat his native butler to death."
The character of Dr. Grimesby Roylott is introduced, and he is
described as an angry, violent man - creating a significant element of
danger about the situation. The idea that Sherlock Holmes may have met
his match produces an unpredictability about the story, again making
the reader want to continue and find out what happens.
"Your sister is dead, then?"
As the story now tells the reader that it contains death, it
immediately adds interest - the person reading it can now identify the...