The conventions of the murder mystery genre are that a murder is usually committed at the start of the story and is carefully premeditated. A detective and his colleague are brought in to investigate the felony, but all they find are a lot of perplexing clues and insinuating evidence, which are gradually and meticulously put together, with the detective enlightening the audience to who the delinquent is and how they perpetrated the crime at the closing stages of the tale. Murder mysteries with these conventions are “Murder she wrote”, “Taggart”, “Frost”, “Quavanagh QC” and “Johnathan Creek”.
The “Speckled band” is a archetypal example of this genre. A murder was committed at the start of the story (two years previously), then an ingenious but peculiar detective is summoned upon the scene with his dedicated assistant. “I had no keener pleasure than in following Holmes in his professional investigations, and in admiring the rapid deductions. ” The detective shrewdly works out all the concealed evidence and at the cessation the detective ultimately divulges all and manages to ‘rescue’ the quarry.
Conversely, in “Lamb to the slaughter”, the slaughter is implemented by a character whom we’ve already encountered, who is scarcely for this category, a woman. The police officers in this story are not the smartest of officers, they appear very narrow-minded and not equipped for change, they don’t consider women as equals or to be killers. “It’s the old story…. Get the weapon, and you’ve your man. ” The clues are steadily covered up until there is no substantiation left permitting the eradicator to get away with the crime totally, with no one being suspicious of her at all.
If we take into account the customary behaviour of murderers in this genre, the two killers either abide by the conventions or absolutely demolish them. The murderer in “the Speckled band”, Doctor Roylott, is the conventional villain. He is a callous and vindictive stepfather who likes to dominate and use his stepdaughter. “Five little livid spots, the marks of four fingers and a thumb, were printed upon the white wrist. ” He is a sturdy, incensed and violent man by nature. “Violence of temper approaching mania has been heredity in the men of the family… ntensified by his ling residence in the tropics. ”
It is evident, therefore, that if both girls had married this beauty would have had a mere pittance. ” He deceitfully plans his murders so that there is no evidence of how Julia died, albeit all and sundry suspected his participation. Nevertheless, he panics once he discovers that he is under scrutiny. He tracks his stepdaughter to Holmes’ office where he then threatens him. “Don t you dare to meddle with my affairs … I am a dangerous man to fall foul of! See here … seized the poker, and bent it into a curve with his huge brown hands. ”
Whilst in Mary Maloney’s case, the author pays no notice to these predictable and perhaps old-fashioned conventions. Mrs Maloney is a six-month pregnant housewife who time and again worries about satisfying her husband, so why should she want to kill him? “Darling, shall I get your slippers? … Would you like me to get you some cheese? ” She seems to be utterly wedged in her repetitive routine of ‘perfect married life’ and it is only when her husband obliterates her ‘perfect world’ that she is driven to kill him. This is confirmed time after time in the story.
Whenever he does something out of the ordinary, she always attempts to fall back in her old routine. An example of this is when he tells her he’s leaving her; she tries to continue as though nothing had happened. “I’ll get the supper, she managed to whisper. ” She is very serene and tranquil and even after she kills him she doesn’t panic but is very methodical in covering up her crime. Initially she doesn’t care that she will be lynched for the murder, it is simply when she starts to think about her baby that she chooses to conceal the murder and she reverts to her new ‘perfect mother’ role.
Even though the discrepancies between the two murderers seem extensive there are two significant similarities between them, they are both very devious. In Doctor Roylott’s case, he cold bloodedly kills his victim so that it can’t be proven. “The idea of using a form of poison which could not possibly be discovered by any chemical test was just as such a one as would occur to a clever and ruthless man. ” Whereas in Mary Maloney’s case she doesn’t intend to kill her victim but once she does, she covers it up so well that not even Sherlock Holmes himself could come in afterwards and prove it.
They are both most probably going mad, Dr Roylott has an uncontrollable temper, which lead him to kill someone. “He hardly knows his own strength. ” His only friends were his wild, exotic animals and the gipsies whom he let camp on his land; he didn’t even attempt to make socialise. “Instead of making friends and exchanging visits with our neighbours, who had at first been overjoyed … he shut himself up in his house, and seldom came out save to indulge in ferocious quarrels. ” On the other hand, in Mrs Maloney’s case it is not her physical behaviour in question but her mental state.
The way in which she acts is very peculiar, to look up at a clock but not with anxiety but to please yourself? She’s a six-month pregnant woman, you might expect her to be glowing and peaceful but there’s a ‘slow smiling’ air around her that surrounds her with an eerie feeling of doom. The only time she begins to worry about her husband is when he tells her not to fuss over him, and when she does disintegrate, it’s not because he was leaving her but because he told her not to cook. “For God’s sake … Don’t make supper for me. I’m going out… Mary Maloney simply walked up behind him and without any pause swung the big leg of lamb”.
The irony of it is that at the same time she is responsible for taking a life out of the world she is also responsible for ensuring that a life is brought into the world. The two victims have several clear differences between them. Patrick Maloney is an old fashioned chauvinist, whose job alone makes him appear to be macho but he is in fact a very feeble man. We know very little about his feelings and emotions but we realise that he is agitated as well as angry and frustrated by his situation. “He did an unusual thing. He lifted his glass and drained it in one swallow. ”
He attempts to resolve his problem but he doesn’t succeed, his obstacles being his wife and the two glasses of whisky he needed to drink just to come up with the courage to tell his wife he was leaving her. Conversely, in Helen Stoners case it was very different. She was the one being treated deficiently. “In a pitiable state of agitation, her face all drawn and grey, with restless, frightened eyes. ” She relies upon the assistance of a man to resolve her problem, first Percy Armstrong and then Sherlock Holmes; it seems pathetic but it was what was the adequate thing to do for a woman in that era.
In Victorian times, a woman didn’t have very much respect if she wasn’t married so it was in Ms Stoner’s favour that she was engaged to be married. “A dear friends, whom I have known for many years, has done me the honour to ask for my hand in marriage. ” As extensive as their differences may have been, the two victims do have some things in common, they are both people who don’t like t cause a commotion adding to the fact that they both seem very spineless. Helen Stoner has no control over her life; the men in her life control it. Took us to live with him in the ancestral house at Stoke Moran. ”
Whilst Mr Maloney believes he has control over his wife but in the end, she comes out on top. “All right, she told herself. So I’ve killed him. ” In “the Speckled band”, the detective, Sherlock Holmes is renound for his analytical skills. “I have heard of from Mrs Farintosh, whom you helped in the hour of her sour need. ” He is a very astute, but eccentric man. “The rapid deductions, as swift as intuitions, and yet always founded on a logical basis, with which he unravelled the problems which were submitted to him.
He’s not a friend of the killer, which gives him a translucent mind to put the clues together and rationalize everything to us, the readers, without prejudging the circumstances. You could not find a more ‘conventional’ detective. Conversely in “Lamb to the slaughter” the detectives are of ‘ordinary’, say average intelligence. They previously knew both the murderer and the victim so that whilst trying to solve the case they have to also deal with their own feelings of inadequacy to help and the mourn the lost of a friend making them more subjective to the situation. Were exceptionally nice to her, and Jack Noooran asked if she would rather go somewhere else, to her sisters house perhaps, or to his own wife. ”
They are very small-minded and even though they may suspect have suspected Mrs Maloney of being the murderer, they discard the thought immediately. “Acted quite normal … very cheerful … wanted to give him a good supper … peas … cheesecake … impossible that she. ” They are very susceptible and destroy evidence without knowing, so at the end, we, the readers know what’s going on when they don’t.
The Speckled band” written during the 19th century is a traditional detective story. Since it was written so long ago, the roles of men and women are unequally balanced. To an extent, it is everything you would expect it to be, the woman the damsel in distress who is threatened by a strong male. “It is not cold which makes me shiver … It is fear, Mr Holmes. It is terror. ” The men in the story who in the end also ‘save’ her constantly manipulate her. “I am in no doubt indirectly responsible for Dr Grimesby Roylott’s death.
If she did not behave in the manner that she did she would’ve been regarded as peculiar for in that time women were thought to be the weaker sex who could not survive without their male partners. Whilst “Lamb to the slaughter,” written during the 20th century, is a more modern story. The woman is the murderer who kills her treacherous husband. Instead of being manipulated herself, she manipulates all the men to her advantage so she can get away with her crime, with no punishment. The men in “the Speckled band” have all the powerful roles which can change the storylines.
They’re either the detective or the murderer. Either fighting for the survival of a life or the death of one, they manipulate the situation and the women to suit their needs (typical male behaviour). However, the men in “Lamb to the slaughter” are ‘regular’ people who double as victims. They are the ones who are made to look foolish since they are together less cunning than one woman. This is proven when the detectives are eating the lamb and are talking about the murder weapon. “Personally, I think it’s right here on the premises.
Probably right under our very noses … And in the other room, Mary Maloney began to giggle. ” The irony of it is that it is in fact under their noses, the audience are expected to laugh at this irony. We are laughing with Mary Maloney therefore we can’t judge her because we are ‘equals’. The conclusion being, the attitudes to women during the Victorian era were that they had no control over their destiny. The modern story is of a woman from the ‘Thatcherite generation, it shows women taking control of their lives and their destiny with both hands.
The Speckled band” is located in a mammoth derelict mansion in the middle of the countryside surrounded by exotic animals; it’s a very spine-chilling setting, which adds to the air of mystery and danger. “The building was grey, lichen-blotched stone, with a high central portion, and two curving wings, like claws of a crab … windows were broken, and blocked … the roof was partly caved in, a picture of ruin. The central portion was in little better repair. ” A poisonous snake murders the victim, with much of the action taking place during the middle of the night.
This is a conventionally atmospheric scene for a brutal murder to take place. “Lamb to the slaughter” has a very cosy setting (often maybe a bit too cosy). “The room was warm and clean, the curtains drawn the two table lamps alight. ” It is set in an ordinary house, nothing like the mansion, in a suburban town, which has electricity and phone lines. The victim is killed by his frozen supper (a leg of lamb) during dinner time at home. This is a much more modern setting with unusual ideas which makes it more humorous because they are unexpected.
The time difference between when the two stories were written adds disparity between the two stories. The sense of familiarity in “Lamb to the slaughter” adds to the shock of the unforeseen in a home so similar to our own. In “the Speckled band”, the location is very old, they use lamps, dogcarts and police officers didn’t have many things to help them in their investigations apart from instinct, witnesses and weapons. “Put your lamp there as a signal”. Whilst in “Lamb to the slaughter” there are cars, thermos buckets, ice cubes, freezers, phones and a shop around the corner. Went to the phone. ” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is a man who sticks to conventions like glue.
His story is written in 1st person narrative, from Watson’s point of view. “My notes of the seventy odd cases. ” Conan Doyle’s writing is very sombre; he presents to us, the audience, with lots of facts but not very much information about the sentiments of the characters. His writing is very formal and the language that he uses is often old literacy. The reader is given lots of clues but is not expected to be able to work out how the murder was committed. Then for pity’s sake tell me what was the cause of my sister’s death. ”
It can be seen that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s language and style of writing is distinctive of the genre. Roald Dahl is a man of innovation; in his writing, he ignores the customary conventions of the mystery genre. His story is written from the perspective of a 3rd person narrator and for that reason we empathise more with the murderer than we do with the victim. Dahl’s writing is very humerous, probably because the story does not ‘judge’ the murderers motivation for the killing.
He uses a lot of adjectives to ‘set the scene’ and give the reader a mental picture of the events. His writing is informal and the language that he uses is of Standard English and is written phonetically. “Hullo, darling. ” Since Roald Dahl wrote his story in the 20th century, the idea that women were equal a sex to men was not rejected by the readers, or thought of as peculiar. Roald Dahl’s style of writing is very unusual for the genre, which adds to its humour. Overall, I felt that both stories were good, and even though they were of the same genre, they were very different.
The Speckled band” shows how the detective deciphers the case, whilst “Lamb to the slaughter” shows how the murderer gets away with the crime. In particular my favourite was “Lamb to the slaughter”, Roald Dahl’s story is very peculiar and unusual which all add to its humour. Dahl’s writing is very funny and witty, his descriptive words give you an image of what is happening in the story. Despite the fact that I thought Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s story was virtuous, his writing is too long, it has no humour to make it shimmer. It is too formal and everything you would expect from a murder mystery.