The similarities of ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’ and ‘The Speckled Band’ are evident throughout both stories, although some are found deep beneath the surface, hidden well by their authors, but delve deep into the worlds of Mary Maloney and Sherlock Holmes and the answers are provided, clear as day. The characters in both ‘Lamb to the slaughter’ and ‘The speckled band’ are portrayed by the authors of each story respectively as, in Mary Maloney’s case in ‘Lamb to the slaughter’ as an easy target, a very passive woman and in actual fact this is far from the actual truth, as she is a murderer.
Whilst ‘The speckled band’ plays centre stage for Sherlock Holmes, who acts out his role of typical detective with the trademark pipe, cap and magnifying glass props included (although Holmes is excused as this stereotype is one he helped build). It’s these stereotypes that build the structure of the short stories, Maloney’s of shock and disbelief over what she is capable of doing and covering up, this shows a character immensely diverse from the reader’s first impression of Mrs Maloney;
“Her skin – for this was her sixth month with child – had acquired a wonderful translucent quality, the mouth was soft, and the eyes, with their new placid look, seemed larger, darker than before. ” This backs up Maloney’s first impression of being the ironic ‘typical victim’ of the story, the emphasis on the size of Mary’s eyes show innocence and a sense of being nai?? ve on the soon-to-be widow. Holmes not only helps along the idea of being a ‘typical detective’ by appearance alone, his actions, observations and language fuels this also.
He picks up on the slightest of clues and possibilities of the case, giving an accurate prediction early on in the story, backing up and adding depth to the Sherlock Holmes character. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle does this well and successfully makes the famous detective shine. “I had come to an entirely erroneous conclusion, which shows, my dear Watson, how dangerous it always is to reason from insufficient data. ” This quotation is echoed from Sherlock’s conclusion of the case, once solved, as always Holmes simplified and explained how he arrived at yet another infamous Sherlock Holmes victory, not only for Watson, but for the reader.
Note the intellectual language used by Holmes. This is not a show. It is how he truly speaks, this aswell as the reference to unimaginable leads from the beginning of the story, which aided Holmes in solving the case, shows what a sharp and educated man he really is, along with his ability to deal with the venomous snake who appeared in the story, showing courage and strength. This gives Holmes the rightfully acquired ‘typical detective’ stereotype adopted by him in ‘The Speckled Band’. The settings in both ‘Lamb to the slaughter’ and ‘The Speckled Band’ play a major role of significance to both stories respectively.
‘Lamb to the slaughter’s setting gives a sense of warmth and security, a homely background with Mary Maloney and husband at the forefront. This setting adds to the emotions felt when the unexpected murder occurs, from one extreme to the next. At first the radiant mother-to-be is awaiting the arrival of her loving husband then shifts to the desperate cover up of his death and deceit of the investigating police. It really does make the story that much better, in that it plays with your emotions and puts that unpredictable spin on Mary Maloney’s character.