In “Lamb to the slaughter” we find that the story has an unconventional setting and atmosphere, which Roal Dahl creates through the narrator who describes the setting at the start of the story. The narrator describes the atmosphere of the house as a nice lovely warm home where anyone could feel safe, “The room was warm and clean” this creates an environment which is a warm and welcoming place and unconventional for a murder to take place in.
The narrator also says that Mary Maloney is six months pregnant.
“Her skin- for this was her sixth month with child-had required a wonderful translucent quality” this makes the readers think that there is a sort of innocent atmosphere of the house. Roal Dahl tries to create an unconventional setting when the narrator says “Punctually as always, she heard the tyres on the gravel outside”. This shows how it is routine for Mary Maloney to wait silently for her husband and gives a perception to the reader that there is nothing unusual about what goes on everyday.
However when the murder takes place the readers realise that the settings and atmosphere are unconventional.
In the “The Speckled band” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle uses Watson (the narrator) to reveal aspects of the story, like the characteristics of Sherlock Holmes. “Holmes was for the moment as startled as I. His hand closed like a vice upon my wrist in his agitation. Then he broke in to a low laugh and put his lips to my ear” “It’s a nice household,’ he murmured. ‘That is the baboon,” This shows Watson’s narration describing Holmes actions which reveals to the reader that Holmes has a sarcastic and playfully personality. Again in the story Sir Arthur Conan Doyle uses Watson to expose Holmes characteristics.
“My companion sat in the front of the trap, His arms folded, His hat pulled down over his eyes, and his chin sunk upon his breast, buried in the deepest thought”. This shows the reader that Holmes has a very thoughtful personality and is also a very serious man. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle also uses Watson to reveal aspects of other characters characteristics such as DR Grimsby Roylott. “So tall was he that his hat actually brushed the cross bar of the doorway” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle uses this portrayal, as being tall always seems like being a suspicious character; perfect for describing a potential suspect in a murder case. Watson describes Roylott further saying “A large face, seared with a thousand wrinkles, burned yellow with the sun, and marked with every evil passion” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s use of long and complicated sentences allow Watson to describe Roylott in a lots of detail. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle also uses Watson’s narration to reveal details about the settings of the manor house where the murder took place.
“Panelling of the walls were of brown, worm eaten-oak, so old and discoloured” Again you can still see Doyle’s use of long and complicated sentences through Watson’s narration to describe in detail the manor houses settings to create the right atmosphere of the house in the minds of the readers. Watson also describes the grounds of the manor house of Stoke Moran as having an “Ill – trimmed lawn” Doyle uses dialogue (speech) to reveal characteristics of Sherlock Holmes “No but I observe the second half of a return ticket in the palm of your left glove” This shows us how observant he is and notices small things. Doyle’s use in dialogue to reveal Holmes observational skills also reveals the plot when Holmes says “Ah! That is suggestive. Now, on the other side of this narrow wing runs the corridor from which these three rooms open.
There are windows in it, of course” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle also uses dialogue as a structural device to unfold the mystery. “No she was in her night – dress, in her right hand was found the charred stump of the match, and in her left a match box…. And what conclusions did the corner come to?” As the reader reads this dialogue it becomes apparent in detail how Holmes mind works in an investigation deducing clues and moving the plot forward. This use of dialogue not only shows the reader how Holmes mind works but also motivates the readers to work out the mystery. Another example of this use of dialogue is when Holmes is in the manor house investigating the clues “Pending the alterations, as I understand. By the way, there does not seem to be any very pressing need for repairs at the end wall”.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle also uses Watson’s narration to portray characters vividly “We could see that she was indeed in a pitiable state of agitation, her face all drawn and grey”. Here Sir Arthur Conan Doyle uses sentences which are complex and packed with clauses to build up layers of description and detail. “With restless, frightened eyes, like those of a haunted animal”. Some of the language Doyle uses in Watson’s narration is often old and archaic. Here Watson is on the train with Holmes where they meet DR Grimsby Roylott, Watson describes in detail the appearance of Roylott, “A large face seared with a thousand wrinkles” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle use of the word seared is quite old fashioned but is a effective as it gives the reader a good description of Roylott’s face.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle also uses names as a very important part of creating an impression of someone characteristics, like the name s DR Grimsby Roylott who is the villain in “The speckled band”. The name DR Grimsby Roylott sounds evil as DR’s are often considered as the mad villains in stories such as Franklinstaine where the DR is insane and creates havoc by his invention of Franklinstaine. The name Grimsby is also an unusual name for a person so it sounds much more like the name of a villain. Doyle also uses names such as Mrs. Helen Stoner for the innocent characters which sound much more usual for a persons name and therefore make the person sound much nicer.
In the story “Lamb to the slaughter” Roal Dahl uses black comedy to expose the ironical situation, which is that the murder took place but the detectives eat the evidence and the crime doesn’t get solved which results in an unconventional villain getting away with murder. Roal Dahl also uses simple text and simple languages in the story which is easier to understand “The room was warm and clean, the curtains drawn,” this sentence shows Roal Dahl’s use of simple text and languages which are easier to understand unlike what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle uses in “The speckled band”. Roal Dahl uses a simple plot to go with the story as well which is basically an unconventional murder which an unconventional woman commits against a detective however during the story she turns the situation around by using her unconventional status and avoids being caught by the detectives so in this story evil triumphs over good, whilst in “The speckled band” it’s the other way round.
Roal Dahl uses very little detail in the story “Their was a slow smiling air about her, and about everything she did”. You can clearly see Roal Dahl’s use of detail isn’t as much as in “The speckled band” where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle uses very long sentences to add layers of detail. The narrator in “Lamb to the slaughter” moves forward lots of pace which sees the murder taking place in the middle of the story and then investigation continues to the end, this is not like in the “The speckled band” in which the narrator moves pace slowly but in detail seeing the murder at the beginning and the investigation to the end of the story. These two authors make their stories different by each using different characteristics of their murders and detectives, however the structures of both stories are the same as both authors establish their mortality and they both want their characters to get away with it.
In “The speckled band” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle uses stereotyping to portray his characters; this is a technique which Roal Dahl doesn’t use. Doyle’s use of stereotyping proves to play be a very important role in Doyle’s portrayal of characteristics of the characters in “The speckled band” as it is a good tool to use when describing to the reader characteristics of a person. This use of stereotyping is clearly visible in Doyle’s story “The speckled band”. All of Doyle’s characters are stereotyped such as DR Grimsby Roylott, who is described by Watson as having “Bile-shot eyes” and “A large face.
Seared with a thousand wrinkles” These descriptions are related to an average villain who has distinguishing looks and features, which people would consider are common for a villain, such as when Watson mentions when describing Rowlett’s appearance “And his high, Thin, fleshless nose.” This is an aspect of a character which people would automatically presume is a villain. Roal Dahl’s text lacks stereotyping of the characters which results in less descriptive text from which the reader can work out the characters characteristics which is something Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has achieved.
In conclusion both stories are unconventional as in the “The speckled band” the story seems conventional as the murderer, motive, settings and atmosphere are conventional but at the end Sherlock Holmes murders DR Grimsby Roylott accidentally which is unconventional for a mystery fiction story, especially because Sherlock Holmes doesn’t feel guilty after the incident. The story “Lamb to the slaughter” is also an unconventional story as the murderer Mary Maloney is unconventional and so is the victim who is a detective. The case goes unsolved as the senseless detectives eat the evidence which is ironical and unconventional.