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The Slaughter and The Speckled Band

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In defining horror stories it is possible to suggest that they include elements showing a fear of some thing or someone. Stereotypically they include victims, murders, detectives, gruesome scenes and twists in the plot. All of these factors usually add up to a successful horror story which shall leave the reader on the edge of their seat. However there are many different horror genres such as comic, gothic, mystical including witches and ghosts and psychological . In this case we are dealing with only one strand and it can be identified as murder-mystery horror.

As we ome up to the times twentieth and twenty-first century films include twists in the plot where possible for originality. Thus because people in these centuries have literally become immune to the gory and bloody effects of the horror and therefore want more out of it to interest them psychologically. The villain in Lambs to the Slaughter , Mary Maloney is very clear right from the start that she committed the murder. This is more psychological seeing as the reader is given the chance to think more about her character. However, the villain is not revealed until the end of the

Speckled Band and this may lead the reader into feeling some fear and anticipation as to whom the villain is throughout the story. As the horror was set in the Victorian era around 1888 when Jack the Ripper was the main topic of conversation and fear amongst the public, the readers knowledge of his murders may increase their experiences of fear and terror when they read the book. In Lambs to the Slaughter there is a rather unnatural twist as the villain is revealed straight- away and is thought of as an oblivious suspect throughout the story, thus because Mary Maloney appears emotionally upset over her husbands murder.

However the audience already know she committed the murder. This dramatic irony will be discussed in more detain further on in the essay. Whilst comparing victim there appears to be few comparisons between Mr Maloney and Miss Stoner. It would appear that Miss Stoner in the Speckled Band is a stereotypical victim dominated by males, thus emphasised by the way her sister and herself were pushed around by Dr Roylott for so many years in such solemn isolation.

The two sisters ‘did all the work of the house ‘ and ‘were little likely to se anyone of their own age or position’ (pg. 56) The readers nalysis of this will obviously be that Miss Stoner had very little pleasure in her life and therefore, this may be the reason why she is turning towards the detective for help. Her vulnerability is also emphasised when she over dramatically pleads to the detective; ‘There’s no one else I can turn to. ‘(pg. 153) When analysing the readers response there judgement would be expected to be that it is a stereotypical response of a vulnerable female victim in that situation.

Her simple desperate phrase such as: ‘It is fear, it is terror’ (pg. 52) also suggest that she has had to cope with a fearful, traumatic experience which is ongoing. The desperation of her situation is put across since she lays all her hope and possibly her life into the hands of a stranger. In this case being the detective. Miss Stoner is described as: ‘heavily veiled’ and ‘dressed in black. ‘ (pg. 151) This type of clothing is commonly worn during a funeral service which is a depressing time and this therefor indicates that she has been mourning all her life.

On the advancing page it has a description of the victims ‘grey’ and ‘haggard’ face this will enable the reader to associate her with having a hard, stressful life. Thus making the reader have sympathy for her which is tereotypical of a horror story. However, in Lambs to the Slaughter, the victim, Mr Maloney is initially un-stereotypical of that of a victim. His occupation is a policeman and he fits more of the role of a detective rather than a victim since he is associated with the law.

However, some small details may be put forward which reflect upon Mr Maloney as a victim, for example: he continuously tells says to his wife: ‘No, I don’t want a drink. ‘ This stern tone of attitude may seem to be irritating his wife and building up her exasperation. Many of her husbands small rude comments may be building up his wife’s angry and violent motions and the final push may be him telling his loving six months pregnant wife that he is leaving her. These build up the idea that she is going to lash out and hurt or murder her husband since he has crushed her heart in such a painful way.

In a way he is seen as a victim from the start. An unfortunate man who is at the receiving end of a women’s scorn and is his lack of respect towards his wife literally tells the readers that she is going to react in a vicious way. Overall even though he is not necessarily a mournful, stereotypical victim who the reader has sympathy for he till has some factors of being a victim. The two villains comparisons initially have few similarities between them. Dr Roylott the stereotypical villain is described as wearing black clothes, moody and isolated from the rest of the world.

The way he is said to have a pet tiger and baboon which are ‘feared by the villagers almost as much as their master’ (pg. 156) are two very vicious animals which are possibly shown to resemble himself. All of these factors resemble evil and since you never actually get to know Dr Roylott sympathy for him is lacking as everything about him sums up the readers opinion that he ommitted the murder in cold blood. ‘uncontrollable anger’ and evil ways are especially emphasised when his step-niece Miss Stoner talks about how he: ‘beat his native butler to death and narrowly escaped a capital sentence’ (pg. 54)

This puts forward the idea that as he has killed before in a fit of anger, then possibly he could do it again once his imprisonment sentence had expired. This previous bad temper and the fact that he used to be a doctor suggest that he is very clever and very ruthless. Which is a bad combination. Both of these combined factors fit the description of a stereotypical villain. Mary Maloney the villain in Lambs to the Slaughter is ‘sewing’ as she waits for her husband to arrive home from work.

These domestic movements involving ‘glancing up at the clock’ and waiting to hear her husbands ‘car tyres on the gravel outside’ and then her leaning forward to ‘kiss him as he came in’ (pg. 137) all add up to give the reader the impression that she is the opposite of sinister and more of a loving housewife. The description of her being ‘placid’, ‘soft’ and ‘tranquil’ and when it says: ‘Her skin…… wonderful translucent quality…. mouth was soft…. eyes… darker .. ‘(pg. 137) lso suggest that she is more of a stereotypical victim rather than a villain.

The use of the word ‘love’ described as her feelings for her husband may also suggest this point and that she is a very calm, family loving women. However, her submissive behaviour to her husband and obsessive time keeping of his whereabouts indicate that maybe her love for him is more than pure innocent. After all a wife who repeatedly everyday goes through a schedule of listening for her husbands ‘car tyres’, ‘footsteps’ and ‘the key turning in the lock’ maybe indicates that she has some suspicions about him and is lways wanting to know where he is. This gives the reader the idea that she is very possessive.

Another point to be made id the way she: ‘loved to luxuriate in the presence of this man’ (pg. 138) and the way she was excessively possessive of her husband gives the reader the impression that if she can’t have him then no one else can. This extreme possession in a way gives her a scary edge as its as if she willing to do ‘anything’ to not let him be with anyone else but herself. So once the bad news had been broken to her and she made an effort to ignore it and carry on as normal, it as obvious that she was almost going to mentally breakdown and hurt him in a way that he had hurt her emotionally.

Despite the bad news she carried on with her normal domestic actions of going downstairs to get the dinner. This in a way in her attempts of blocking out of her system because she couldn’t handle the truth. He told he was leaving her when she was six months pregnant and she just couldn’t and wouldn’t accept it. So following her normal schedule she deviated a plan. These kind of factors are what make her resemble a villain. Page 141 describes Mary as clever and how she knows what to do and: how clear her mind….. ‘ Roylott has already been revealed as clever and so this is described as stereotypical.

The way in which: ‘Mary began to giggle'(pg. 149) and Dr Roylotts actions show that neither of them have any remorse. The final similarity discussed in the essay is the villains unstable personality. Mary Maloney is seen as just snapping and Dr Roylotts history of violence is revealed on page 154 when he ‘beat his native butler to death’. His uncontrollable anger and her attempts of trying to ignore distressing news show that they both are possibly able to act in an inhumane way because they can’t deal calmly with ituations.

However they are still nothing alike as Dr Roylott planned the murder and killed for money, where as Mary had no intention of murdering her husband. Roylott was also found out and then accidentally killed by his own murderous weapon, the snake, which is an unnatural twist, whereas Mary had sufficient knowledge to trick the police. Sherlock Holmes and his apprentice in the Speckled Band are both stereotypical detectives. The reader is under the impression that the detective is experienced seeing as he has dealt with ‘seventy odd cases’ and obviously he is intelligent as he is described as: swift intuitions’, ‘observant’ and ‘professional’.

This informs the reader that the detective Sherlock Holmes is stereotypical. Page 152 describes him observant by the way he: ‘observes the second half of a return ticket ‘ and solves how Miss Stoner arrived there by saying: ‘jacket is spattered with mud… ‘ This shows he is willing to work and be observant in order to find out information and that he is highly intelligent. Even whilst investigating into the mystery he is able to put the pieces together and successfully solve the crime, revealing Dr Roylott as the villain.

His description of how the murder took place and every detail of what happens in this case ,structures the story, and it gives answers to all the questions the reader may have wondered about at the beginning.. In Lambs to the Slaughter the spongy detectives are dopey and unaware of any clues. Even though the murder weapon in right under their noses.

Their simple-mindedness is shown off even more to the reader when all of them are munching away at the leg of lamb, which in this case is the murder weapon and one of them says: ‘I bet the murder weapon is right under our noses. (pg. 49) The reader may analyse this by imaging them as a group of boisterous, dense, large pig like men who are more bothered about munching away on food rather than solving the murder mystery. The fact that they accepted a drink of whisky on the job makes them appear even more ridiculous. The detective says ‘it’s not strictly allowed’ (pg. 147) Yet still he himself accepts the drink which will make the reader believe that he is irresponsible and does not do his job properly.

This is a pathetic description of a detective and what makes them less likely as one is how there: voices were thick and sloppy because their mouths were full of meat’ (pg. 48) Moving on to the settings. In the Speckled Band the setting includes a more stereotypical mansion described as ‘old’, ‘dark’ and ‘solitary’. The detailed description on page 167 describes connotations of ‘big grey smoke curling up the chimney’ which reminds you of a spooky, haunted, horror setting houses. The long corridors appear to remind you of ‘The Shining’ a scary film in that era and this gives the reader the impression that these are connotations of the idea that hey are enclosed with only one way in and one way out.

The sense of isolation comes from the fact that the mansion is far away from the village where normal domestic life is. This will put the reader under the impression that death has an air about the house. The role in which this plays in the murder is that the reader will immediately sense something murderous and spooky about to happen since the mansion fits a good description of stereotypical murder places. If it didn’t and it was more of a homely place then the story might not have as much edge and be as intense as it is.

In Lambs to the Slaughter, however, the house is the complete opposite of anything remotely scary. Described as ‘pleasant’, ‘upper class’, with ‘whisky glasses’ and set in a traditional high street, it fits the description of a romantic setting rather than a murder scene. This homely, cosy house where the people inside even know the grocer’s by name seems far from the murder setting that it is, especially since it is situated in a domestic community. This romantic setting , however, may increase the excitement and surprise in the readers mind when they discover that Mary

Maloney is a murderer, thus because the story will be made less predictable. In conclusion after doing careful comparisons and looking at individual quotations it is obvious that the Speckled Band is more stereotypical than Lambs to the Slaughter. After all the characters all fit the descriptions of stereotypical people in murder mysteries. The detective is intelligent and highly observant, the victim is an over dramatic, desperate, fearful female and the villain is a clever, ruthless money seeking man. The structures of both stories are able to engage the reader but in different ways.

More stereotypically in the Speckled Band the reader is engaged by the mystery and is interested in finding out all the clues and answers to the murder mystery, however, in Lambs to the Slaughter the reader is interested in finding more about Mary’s character and whether or not she gets away with it. Whereas the Speckled Band is more of a conventional murder mystery Lambs to the Slaughter has more originality to it seeing a s the loving house wife is the murderer. Overall the Speckled Band is the usual murder mystery and Lambs to the Slaughter is a more emotional, original, exciting and different kind of murder story.

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