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‘Lamb to the Slaughter and ‘The Creeping Man’ are two different examples of stories of the detective genre. However one story follows the typical detective genre and the other subverts the traditional detective story.
‘The Creeping Man’ was written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and is a typical detective story. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was the first and one of the most famous detective writers and in many ways set the trend for detective stories. ‘The Creeping Man’ is his writing, and thus can be expected to conform to the reader’s idea of a traditional detective story.
Watson narrates ‘The Creeping Man’, in order for the reader to get a full understanding of the case. This style also makes the reader see Holmes as clever and mysterious, by only letting the reader know Watson’s thoughts on the case and, not on Holmes’ view of the case. ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’ was written by Roal Dahl and subverts from the traditional detective story. It is set in modern times (1980’s) and ‘plays around’ with Doyle’s original structure. It also relies on the readers knowledge of the traditional style in order to surprise them. The story is written from Mary Maloney’s point of view.
She is the villain of the story and therefore, the story does not follow the traditional detective structure. ‘The Creeping Man’ is introduced by Watson and narrated by him as well. The case is about Professor Presbury’s alleged strange behaviour in harassing his daughter and behaving in a frighteningly unusual way.
Holmes is called in to investigate but is met by a hostile response, Professor Presbury turns them away and tells them that they are not required. It turns out that the Professor has been taking a serum to rejuvenate him to a youthful appearance, and that his family have been witnessing the side effects.
Holmes solves the case with Watson’s help and save the professor and his family from disaster. In ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’, Mary Maloney is the villain, who kills her husband with a frozen leg of lamb. She is also the main character in the story and the actual detectives in the story play a very small and insignificant part. Unlike ‘The Creeping Man’ they are portrayed as very predictable and easily duped, and they end up eating the leg of lamb with which Mary Maloney killed her husband. Sherlock Holmes is the main in ‘The Creeping Man’.
He is portrayed as very clever but mysterious at the same time, Doyle has achieved this by making his speech very abrupt and not too revealing. He uses phrases like ‘Come at once if convenient- if not convenient come all the same’, which does not let the reader know Holmes’ thoughts and also intrigues them into wanting to read on. However this could also make Holmes appear arrogant and would in turn make the reader dislike him. He is very methodical in his approach to the case and is totally involved and dedicated to it; he does not stop thinking about the case throughout the novel and never rests until the case is solve.
He always examines the crime scene and revisits it if necessary. He is described as always dressing smartly. It also appears that Watson finds him very demanding and too clever for Watson’s intelligence. This is portrayed by Watson describing Holmes as having ‘flame like intuitions’ and being too clever for the ‘methodical slowness in’ Watson’s ‘mentality’, this therefore suggests that Watson portrays Holmes as too intelligent for his simple mind. In ‘The Creeping Man’ Professor Presbury is one of the main characters due to his connection with the case and role as a villain.
The reader has very little sympathy for him and does not really get to understand him and his thoughts. In one section of the book he is portrayed as animal like, with phrases such as ‘a huge bat’ and ‘sprang up’. He is also portrayed as arrogant, fierce, strange and over reacts on several occasions, this can be seen by his language and style of speech. He says things like ‘Hardly enough’ to Holmes, which suggests that he is arrogant and he is also described as saying it with a ‘screaming voice’ and with ‘extraordinary malignancy on his face’ which portrays him as fierce.
This also makes the reader dislike and even fear him and so they have little empathy and sympathy for him. This is the opposite reaction on the reader’s part in ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’ as the reader has a lot of sympathy for the main character and villain, Mary Maloney. This is because at the beginning of the story the reader already starts to like her. Dahl has achieved this by describing her as ‘tranquil’ and ‘placid’ which suggests that she is a calm and gentle person which the reader can relate to, this also helps surprise the reader when they find out what she will do.
They also have empathy for her when they find out she is ‘six months with child’, and her husband is planning to leave her, this might make the reader feel less critical of her and some might even think that this justifies her actions. This therefore makes ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’ unlike any traditional detective in this genre and Dahl has made it a very different structure to that of traditional stories, like ‘The Creeping Man’. The victim in ‘The Creeping Man’ is the professor’s daughter Edith, it is she who feels in the most danger from the Professor when he takes the serum.
Conan Doyle has written it so the reader fully believes her story but they are not too sympathetic towards her. She gives a straightforward clear description of her experiences but is portrayed as a little frightened and hysterical at times. Doyle has achieved this by giving her phrases such as ‘I lay paralysed’ and ‘ I nearly died of surprise’, which suggests she is disturbed by what has occurred. This also succeeds in creating an air of apprehension in for the reader, in reading her frightened descriptions.
However she is also she is also very believable and rational and so the reader has no other choice but to believe her. This is not the case in ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’ as Dahl has written it in a way so that the reader dislikes Mr Maloney, the victim, and has no sympathy for him when he gets murdered. Dahl has portrayed him as very moody and abrupt, and the reader can sense his mood from his descriptions, ‘mouth in shadow’, this suggests he has a sinister or moody side. And when Mary asks if she can get him anything he just replies with ‘Sit down’, this also suggests his mood but portrays him as abrupt as well.
This also so portrays him as rude, which in turn makes the reader dislike him. The reader also begins to dislike him when he ‘slams the car door’ and is described as ‘frowning’ and ‘motionless’ as these portray his sinister side. The theme of ‘The Creeping Man’ is a search for eternal youth, which would have been appropriate for a time where science seemed to hold all the answers. The theme of ‘Lamb to the slaughter’ is a theme of betrayal and justice, which is a very common theme in detective stories.
However this theme is that of natural justice rather than Law and seems to suggest it is superior. ‘The Creeping Man’ does not contain humour because the intention is not to amuse the reader but to amaze them with Holmes’ intelligence. It is also written in the classic detective style and is the standard detective genre. It is written from Watson’s point of view, and he narrates to emphasis Holmes’ intelligence and so the reader can feel closer to Holmes and what he is thinking, by reading Watson’s admiring comments throughout.
‘Lamb to the Slaughter’ uses humour because as a modern story it can play with the traditional style. Roal Dahl is also known for his humour. It also uses third person narrative, so that Roal Dahl can choose which characters thoughts to focus on. Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Arthur Conan Doyle section.
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