Although both ‘Lambs to the Slaughter’ and the ‘Speckled Band’ are of the same genre (murder mystery) they have many differences making them different from each other. These differences suggest why Mrs Maloney gets away and Roylott doesn’t get away with it. The protagonist in each story is viewed in a different way. We watch Maloney to see if she gets found out, Sherlock Holmes to catch his man because Sherlock Holmes always gets ‘his man’. From this simple quote ‘his man’ you can see it brings up a number of issues concerning the historical differences in the story.
His ‘man’ already suggests the murderer is a man because of the sexist views on woman on this time. Roald Dahl capitalises on this idea and makes a change. This shows how the audience expectation over time changes and what changing prolonging ideas do to the surprising aspects of the story. There are countless differences in the stories although they’re of the same genre: murderers are of different sex, Roylott is selfish selfless; Mrs Maloney is selfless, protagonist murderer; protagonist detective.
These are just a few of the differences. These sources show that the two stories could be of there own specialised genre because of the vast number of differences. They could be in their own category within the murder mystery genre. This suggests why Roylott is caught and Mrs Maloney isn’t, because their two different genres, within the vast murder mystery genre. The murderers caught in one genre and in the other genre the murderer doesn’t.
In Roylott’s book genre he gets caught because that is the way it is in that particular genre.
Although there are many differences there are also many similarities, which makes the two stories, fall under the same genre: both involve murders, both are stories, both employ unexpected murder weapons. The time difference in the two stories means that the people have a different expectation of what expect in a story. The time difference in the Speckled Band is clearly shown by the language, ‘yet you had a good drive in a dogcart’. We wouldn’t use ‘dogcart’ in today’s language; if people wrote differently their expectation is bound to of changed.
The audience at the time of the Speckled Band Would expect the murderer to be a man. Change in audience suggests why Roylott gets caught and Mrs Maloney doesn’t. Out of the two murderers Roylott seems the more likely to get away with the murder because he is very scheming. He plans the whole murder, which seems flawless and he’s a ‘doctor’ so he’s intelligent enough to get away with planning a successful murder. Mrs Maloney on the other hand because she doesn’t work and stays at home waiting for her husband would be less intelligent, ‘Mary Maloney was waiting for her husband to come home from work’.
This would be normal for a mid 20th housewife to stay at home and wait for husband. A woman wouldn’t be expected to work let alone kill someone. A woman wouldn’t be able to conceal such a crime without planning it according to audience preconceptions: At that point Mary Maloney simply walked up behind him and without any pause she swung the big frozen leg … on the back of his head. She also loved the man so much she would do anything for him, ‘she loved to luxuriate in the presence of this man’.
Any reader, Dahls 20th century one audience or Doyle that emotional state to be caught where as Roylott who took a ‘medical degree and went to Calcutta, where by his own professional skill, he established a large practice’ wouldn’t. Just for being a woman and not a man a Doyle’s 19th century audience and Dahl’s 20th century audience would expect Mrs. Maloney to be caught. Also Roylott to a 19th century reader would be thought to be tougher than a woman who are portrayed weaker in the Speckled Band as well as in Lamb to the Slaughter. Ii was Mrs Stoner who went to see Holmes because she was scared, ‘its not the cold that makes me shiver’.
Roald Dahls subverts what people expect and makes Mrs Maloney the murderer to surprise the audience. It is even more surprising for Doyle’s 19th century audience and Dahl’s 20th century audience that Mrs Maloney gets away with it. Mrs Maloney gets away with it because Dahl as an author wants to surprise the audience by making something unexpected happen. The story is a murder mystery and it is a shock to the audience that a woman could kill. Dahl shocks his Lamb to the Slaughter reader because it is not Mary Maloney (not because she is a woman) but her husband who seems the more likely killer.
When her husband comes in, his mind seems to be occupied by something else. He seems to answer her questions rudely, ‘darling shall I get your slippers’ (Mrs Maloney speaking) ‘no’ he answers (Mr Maloney). He answers the next questions ‘no’, ‘I don’t want it’, ‘forget it’. Clearly he doesn’t really want to speak to her. Mr Maloney is also drinking heavily: When he (Mr Maloney) came back, she noticed that the new drink was dark amber with the quantity of whisky in it. Mr Maloney was clearly occupied by something else and dinking heavily. Any reader, whether it was 100 years ago or present day would expect Mr Maloney to be the murderer.
Dahl then makes Mrs Maloney the murderer to surprise the audience. This suggests why Mary Maloney kills in the first place, to make it a better story. Mary Maloney seems the unlikely murder to surprise the audience. Mrs Maloney seems to be the more unlikely murderer to surprise the audience. Mrs Maloney seems exceptionally happy and very much enjoyed the company of her husband, ‘she loved to luxuriate in the presence of this man… ‘ She seems eager to do anything for her husband, ‘Ill get it she cried (Mrs Maloney) jumping up’. It isn’t at all obvious right up to the point that she kills her husband that Mary Maloney is the murderer.
Any audience, Dahl or Doyle’s would not put Mrs Maloney, such a loving wife, on their list of suspects. This (the element of surprise) idea, which I have expressed earlier, is what Dahl capitalises on. This is even more so for Dahl’s mid 20th century audience who even more surprised the woman is a murderer. In the Speckled band it isn’t a shock to see that Roylott is the murderer. Dr Roylott is a violent aggressive character. In the start of the story Mrs Stoner describes how he ‘beat his native butler to death’ and, on his return to England, his own two stepdaughters and everybody in the local area fear him: .. For he (Roylott) is a man of immense strength, and absolutely uncontrollable in his anger.
Any reader, whether it is Doyle’s original 19th century audience or a modern on, would place Roylott at the top of their fist of suspects. Doyle chooses such a two dimensional-character in Roylott. Roylott is easy to dislike because of his selfish, uncaring and mean behaviour, ‘I am a dangerous man to fall foul of he shouts at Holmes ‘furiously’. From his first appearance you can tell he’s a horrible man that’s easy to dislike. ‘Holmes the meddler’, Roylott screams.
It would be against the conventions of Holmes for the horrible, bad, murderer to get away with it. Any reader of the Speckled Band irrespective of time would want Dr Roylott to get caught. If Mrs Maloney a nice woman were the murderer in the Speckled Band she would probably get away with it again. The fact that Roylott is horrible suggests why he is caught and Mrs Maloney isn’t. We also feel pity for Mrs Maloney and if we felt pity for Roylott, Holmes wouldn’t be able to catch him because it would be against conventions of the good detective catching the bad killer.
This suggests why Roylott is caught. We feel pity for Mrs Maloney because she only hides her crime to protect her baby, ‘what were the laws on unborn children? Did they kill them both mother and child. ‘ These factors build on the growing pity the audience is feeling for Mrs Maloney. Her husband who she loved so much, ‘for her (Mrs Maloney) this was a blissful time of day… enjoying his (her husbands) company after the long hours alone in the house’, told her he was having a affair: This is going to be a bit of a shock to you, I’m afraid he said (Mr Maloney)… nd he told her … She sat very still through it all, watching him with a kind of dazed horror. She kills her husband because she is mentally unstable and the growing emotion is taken out as she kills her husband.
No wonder the audience feels pity for audience would, whether its Dahl’s 20th century one, or Doyle’s original 19th century one. These factors suggest Roylott was caught, because he’s the bad guy and the bad guy always loses. Mrs Maloney wasn’t caught because she was on the good side. This evidence shows why Mrs Maloney gets away, Roylott does not.
It is also questionable whether Mrs Maloney does get away with it in these circumstances. Her husband who she greatly relied on not just for expenses, ‘of course I’ll give you money’ but for love, is dead. She is also left with a baby to bring up without a dad and without the money he would supply. Does Mrs Maloney get away with it? Clearly to any reader, she doesn’t. So does it mean both Roylott and Mrs Maloney were caught but just in different ways. The earlier quotes link in with the motive, Roylott’s is selfish; Mrs Maloney’s is selfless.
Mary Maloney killed her husband because he was having an affair or something along the lines. Dahl leaves the reader to play at detective; he leaves some unsolved clues, which Doyle does not allow the freedom of because Sherlock Holmes cannot miss a thing: And he told her; it didn’t take long, four or five minutes at the most, and sh sat very sill through it all, with a kind of dazed horror. She is so in love with he husband she ignores him: It occurred to her he hadn’t even spoken… After this she realises her world is falling apart and she cracks, hence the killing.
The motive, which is so cleverly hidden by Roald Dahl, is not so apparent but we have a fair idea what it is by her reaction. Any reader would be just as emotionally jacked up to killing someone; anyone would, considering her state of affairs. On the other Roylott’s selfish killing for money more than underlines his greedy personality. His motive is clear and we can see why he may want to kill his stepdaughters when Mrs Stoner tells his story. We find out that in the event of marriage Roylott: would have to ‘pay a certain annual sum… in the event of our (Mrs Stoner and her sisters) marriage’.
Mrs Stoner’s twin sisters suspiciously die the night before her wedding. This shows Roylott’s clear motive to kill his two stepdaughters before the night of their wedding. Mrs Stoner’s twin sister was killed the night before her wedding and a few weeks before this heard a strange whistle. Now Mrs Stoner before her wedding hears the same whistle: Imagine, then, my thrill of terror last night… when I heard in the silence of the night the low whistle. What a coincidence! The evidence shows to any reader Roylott has a clear motive (for money) to kill his two stepdaughters and that he has already killed one.
The evidence shows Roylott: is selfish; Mrs Maloney’s is selfless as stated previously or Roylott is killing for money (which he does not need) and Mrs Maloney for emotional pain of having to bring up a baby on her own. Roylott’s clear motive, which is apparent to a reader of either Lamb to the Slaughter or the Speckled Band, shows that he is the murderer, it’s just a matter of obtaining evidence. Roylott’s selfish plot is uncovered because he is selfish and Sherlock Holmes as one of the conventions of his character always gets his selfish murderer.
Roylott when under pressure from Holmes in the Speckled Band loses his temper and subsequently goes to Holmes’s house. He shouts at Holmes ever more underlining that he’s the killer. If he didn’t kill his stepdaughters he wouldn’t worry because Holmes would not find any evidence. By going to the house and losing his temper he is almost begging to be caught: ‘Holmes then Scotland Yard jack in the office! ‘ Roylott is so obviously the murderer any reader would be putting their life on it. The story would all most be stupid if he didn’t get caught. Roylott’s horrible, nasty portrayal is underlined when he storms in Holmes’s house:
The ejaculation had been drawn from my companion (Holmes) our door had been suddenly dashed open. This underlines the audience’s hate of him. His two dimensional bad man image makes the audience hate him, which makes Doyle’s portrayal successful. Doyle wants us to hate him so the reader reads on to see if he does get caught, which in the end is true this audience are satisfied someone they hate is caught. In Lamb to the Slaughter Mary Maloney conceals her crime in a number of ways. Firstly, lucidly enough for her she suddenly hits out at her husband with a leg of lamb and not an obvious murder weapon like a knife:
Mary Maloney walked up and… Swung the big frozen leg of lamb, down as hard as she could on the back of his head. This isn’t an expected murder weapon and works to her side later on when the detectives eat it. After her sudden act of emotion she pulls herself together and practises speaking to the green grocer, which could act as an alibi. She tried a smile. It came out rather peculiar … ‘Hullo Sam’, she (Mrs Maloney) said. She then actually goes to the green grocer and acts very calm: ‘Patrick decided he doesn’t want to eat out tonight. ‘
This shows that by managing to keep calm when under pressure, unlike Roylott, Mrs Maloney successfully hides her crime. This suggests to a modern or 19th century audience by acting natural and not losing your temper like Mrs Malone you would not get caught. After getting her alibi Mrs Maloney goes back to the lamb in the oven, which, she put in earlier acting natural. She phones the police not before seeing her husband dead on the floor, which gets her in a state, realising what she had done. This makes it easy to act ‘natural’ like she says ‘Quick! Come Patrick’s dead! ‘ The police arrive and go about the business of checking for clues.
She then offers them a drink playing the typically portrayed housewife image. The policeman answers, ‘I ‘m not strictly allowed but… I’ll have just the one to keep me going. Mrs Maloney hears the detective that went to see the greengrocer talking about how she acted when she bought the stuff for dinner there. The detective says she was, ‘very cheerful… impossible that she (killed her husband). This shows she has got a successful alibi in he greengrocer. Mrs Maloney then goes back to manipulating the policemen by begging them to eat the lamb, ‘please she begged… eat it. Through these actions of manipulating the policemen she gets away with it. The main aspect of Mrs Maloney’s story is based on the representation of woman to be feeble.
Roald Dahl subverts traditional conventions by making a woman (Mrs Maloney) the murderer. A reader in the 19th century would be shocked at the idea of a woman murdering because of the sexist views on woman at this time. This is the principle reason why Mrs Maloney gets away. She plays on the convention that women are feeble breaking the convention of the male murderer. The detectives before anything subconsciously think it’s a man: It’s the same old story.
Get the murder weapon, and you’ve got your man. ‘ The detectives already think it’s a man and when she manipulates them into thinking She would never do it they have got know chance of getting her, ‘why don’t you have one yourself (Mrs Maloney as detective for a drink)… you must be awfully tired. ‘ She is clearly trying to manipulate them to any reader. Unlike Roylott who is typical murderer, a man, who killed a butler, who makes ‘Folks fly at his approach’, Mrs Maloney is your much complex character who clearly to any reader or in this case the policemen not a obvious murderer.
Roylott gets caught because he is your average easy to catch murderer because of what he is. If he were a nice woman who never banned anything he would not get caught. Likewise if Mrs Maloney drunk heavily wore shabby clothes she would probably get caught. It doesn’t matter who’s got the best plan it’s who is portrayed without the characteristics of your normal stereotypical murder. Mrs Maloney knows ‘she (Mrs Maloney) knew nearly all of the men (policemen) at the precinct’ which adds to her favour. The policemen don’t need much manipulating because they know she is a loving housewife, ‘they (the policemen) were always nice to her’.
If she was horrible they wouldn’t be nice but they are ‘always’ nice to her, ‘always’ almost suggest they make a special effort to be nice to her. Any reader irrespective of time, from the evidence shown could say all the factors of who she is as a person and what she is (a woman) successfully lead to her survival. Mrs Maloney manipulates them into eating the lamb, ‘you must be terribly hungry… and (Mrs Maloney) know Patrick would never forgive me’.
The police eat the lamb totally feeling sorry for Mrs Maloney. In the other room Mary Maloney to giggle’ shows her acknowledging the fact she manipulated them and to us she succeeded in breaking conventions. Mrs Maloney clearly manipulated so much she had the policemen breaking rules. She asks Jack Noonan a detective if he wants a whisky to which he replies ‘I’m not strictly allowed’, but through Mary Maloney’s manipulation he does anyway ‘but (the detective) might just take one drop to keep me going. She then manipulates the others to having a drink, ‘one by one the others came in and were persuaded to take a little nip of whisky.
She has clearly to any audience over powering them, the whole group falling straight into her trap. The group ‘stood round rather awkwardly trying to say consoling things’, it wouldn’t be awkward if they didn’t care or feel sorry for her they wouldn’t try to sat the right things to her but she has manipulated them so much they are going out there way to be nice. Clearly to any reader whether it a 19th century Doyle reader or a modern one you can clearly see she has manipulated them. Her behaviour before her husband’s death and after is totally contrasting.
From the lovely housewife she turns into a crafty killer. This shows she’s more than just a housewife, like all women are but she is portrayed leading us to think differently. Unlike Mary Maloney Roylott fails to manipulate the detectives but even worse approaches them with threats. Roylott’s more complex way of disguising the crime, which he thinks will hide it, is secondary to how the characters are portrayed. If you know someone did the crime it’s just a matter of finding evidence but if you are led to believe it’s definitely not them you don’t even try to catch him or her, this is Roylott’s fault.
Roylott try’s to conceal his crime by training a snake to go up a ventilator, ‘the rope was there as a bridge for something to pass through. ‘ Roylott was put in the story to be caught by the ever-successful Holmes; if Roylott weren’t caught the story would be unsuccessful. The story is a jigsaw puzzle, which to us seems impossible but all the while Doyle knows Holmes will uncover it making him look intelligent and clever. Irrespective of time Holmes will always get his man. Any reader realises this as soon as Holmes’s name is mentioned.
If Sherlock Holmes were investigating Mrs Maloney It is questionable whether she would get away with it. Note ‘man’ underlines that men are the prime suspects and this is true to any audience irrespective of time. So why does Roylott get caught and Mrs Maloney doesn’t? There are many aspects to say why and why not. Mrs Maloney is the protagonist in one leading her to come out on top. This is one important factor into who gets caught. They should be separated into different genres because they are so different (many differences) but it is due mainly to the author’s to outcome of the story.