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Landlady Analysis

By | Jan. 2013
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Appearances are Deceptive
A snarling wolf can be as nice as a loving grandmother, and a cute bunny might actually be a demon in disguise, but you never know until you get to know them. The Landlady, written by Roald Dahl, is a short horror story of a young man named Billy Weaver going to the town of Bath for a business trip. While looking for a place to stay, he finds a seemingly kind, old lady who offers cheap bed and breakfast. While treating Billy to tea at night, the landlady poisons Billy and goes to make him one of her taxidermied collections. Dahl uses foreshadowing, characterization, and irony to examine how innocence can change the way things seem.

Foreshadowing, the use of hints to suggest events that will occur later in a plot, helps show the blindness created by purity. First of all, cheap hotels have many guests. “It was fantastically cheap… There were no other hats or coats in the hall. There were no umbrellas, no walking-sticks—nothing” (Dahl, 64). As Billy steps into this cheap, low-cost hotel, he expects the place to be full of guests; however it is completely empty, as if no one has come before. The price of a hotel is typically the number one determining factor in which where a person stays. If one sees a place where its looks nice, has a low cost, and has a bed and breakfast, they can’t possibly desire more. This hotel was less than half of what Billy was willing to pay for. If Billy had grown more in common society, he might have observed the potential threat of the hotel. Secondly, chrysanthemums and velvet curtains don’t fit a nice, cozy hotel. “Green curtains (some sort of velvety material were hanging down on either side of the window. The chrysanthemums looked wonderful beside them” (Dahl, 63). Unknown to Billy, velvety curtains and especially chrysanthemums have a special significance. In many countries of Europe these flowers are symbolic of death and only used for funerals and to put on graves. If Billy were to notice these facts,...
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