Sanity vs. Insanity a Comparison of Two Murders in “Lamb to the Slaughter” and “If This Be Madness”

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Can sanity determine whether one murder is worse that the other? In the two short stories, “If this be Madness” by Lawrence Block and “Lamb to the Slaughter” by Roald Dahl there are protagonists who murder their spouses. One murder is committed while sane and the other is committed while insane. The narrator is the murderer in Block’s story and his name is not given. Let’s call him Boris. In Dahl’s story Mary Maloney the main character is the murderer. She commits her murder under certain circumstances which excuse her for committing her crime. Of the two murderers, Boris is morally definitely the worse murderer because he kills his own wife just to save a few dollars, second because of his actions after the murder and last because of his cunning long-term plan for murder. Every murderer has a motive for murder because one does not just simply commit a murder for no reason. Unless they are insane. Just like most murderers have a motive for murder, Boris and Mary Maloney also do. Boris’ motive is hatred and frugality. Near the middle of “If this be Madness”, after Boris is sent to St. Anthony’s, he is happy that he doesn’t have to see his wife Mary and says “. . . her companionship has grown less tolerable over the years” (Block 3). This shows his hatred towards his loving wife. So why doesn’t he just divorce her and why does he murder her? Well, shortly after he says that he had looked into the possibility of divorcing her, but “The cost would have been exorbitant . . . she would have wound up with the house and car . . . plus monthly alimony . . .” (Block 3). This proves to us that he is a corrupt character with no morals. He can’t tolerate a loving wife who supports him even after he is sent to a mental institution and even after he calls her the foulest words. After Boris learns that is he divorces her he will lose a lot of money he just decides that he is going to kill her! How corrupt can a person get? On the other hand Mary is a poor loving wife who is...
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