The Speckled Bank vs The Lamb to the Slaughter

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The Speckled Bank is a nineteenth Century short story written by the late Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This story is one of many written portraying the mysteries of the famous Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr Watson.

“You had a good drive in a dog cart” – The use of dog cards (two wheeled carriage) as transport makes the date obvious. The use of ‘old’ language such as “very sorry to knock you up” and “my dear fellow” also confirms the date as before 1900.

Another story which is very different to The Speckled Bank is ‘The Lamb to the Slaughter’ written by Roald Dahl set in the 20th Century. This evidence of this is the use of electrical appliances live the oven and the freezer which are mentioned in the story. The policeman (the victim) owned a car “she heard the tyres on the gravel outside and the car door slamming”. The dialogue was also different to The Speckled Bank using words such as “Hullo” implying the modern way of abbreviating and shortening sentences. In The Speckled Bank sentences tend to be a lot more elaborate.

In both stories a murder is committed and both stories contrast in style a great deal. The Speckled Bank is more of a typical murder story. Dr Grimesby Roylott is a textbook murderer. He has a nasty temper which has already seen him in prison. He lives in a large house with his two-step daughters (who he treats very roughly). One daughter declares she was getting married but was later found mysteriously dead a few weeks later. The surviving stepdaughter is the person who contacted Sherlock Holmes.

A description of Roylott is “the resemblance to a fierce old bird of prey”. A hard man and perhaps he hardly know his own strength. He had a motive in that whenever his stepdaughters get married he would have to pay £1000 a year. He can also blame the gypsies who he lets use his land.

The Lamb to the Slaughter murderer is very different. Firstly she is a wife of a policeman who is pregnant. In The Speckled Bank the mystery is who killed the daughter but in the Lamb to the Slaughter the mystery is whether she will be caught. The Lamb to the Slaughter is also very ironic in that she kills her husband with a leg of lamb and the investigating police team eat the evidence (the murder weapon). “I bet it’s right under our noses” a quote from a policeman eating the leg of lamb (talking about the murder weapon). This makes the police look very stupid.

The execution of the murders were both different in The Speckled Bank the murder was planned, whereas the other murder was an unplanned attack after hearing bad news. The victims were different sexes and the motives were different. As far as The Speckled Bank it was done in greed whereas in The Lamb to the Slaughter the motive was anger. This implies that in The Lamb to the Slaughter the husband might have provoked the attack but we are not sure of this as we do not know what he says to her. Julia Stoner was completely innocent and although we may feel a little sorry for Mary Maloney this is not the case for Roylott.

The police are portrayed very differently in both stories. In The Lamb to the Slaughter they are shown as stupid whereas Sherlock Holmes in The Speckled Bank I feel would have solved both mysteries with his brilliant methods of deduction. The brilliance of Sherlock Holmes is emphasised with lengthy words and his ability to read a situation. An example of this is in the first few pages when he works out that Helen had been cruelly treated “The woman coloured deeply and covered her injured wrist”. This shows his keen eye. The murder was a lot more complicated for Holmes. The weapon was a poisonous snake which is more sophisticated method than a leg of lamb.

In The Lamb to the Slaughter the police were not trying to find the culprit as in The Speckled Bank because the victim was a policeman who had lots of enemies. The policeman never suspected Mary because he had known her before and was biased. He also lacked imagination and couldn’t find the murder weapon.

The biggest contrast between the stories is that one murderer got away with the murder whereas the other did not. The Speckled Bank wraps up everything explaining all the details. The Lamb to the Slaughter on the other hand leaves you thinking about what the husband said to Mary to make her commit such a murder.

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