The Landlady by Roald Dahl

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A short story which has an unexpected ending is ‘The Landlady' by Roald Dahl. The writer uses clever structure and effective characterisation to create such a surprising and satisfactory finale.
The story is about a young man named Billy Weaver. He is just starting a new job in Bath and, whilst looking for accommodation, he comes across a compelling Bed and Breakfast. He can't walk away from the building and ends us ringing the bell. He barely takes his finger away from the bell when, what appears to be, a charming middle-aged lady greets him. The Landlady tells him how inexpensive it is to stay there so he promptly accepts and enters the boarding house. However, Billy is unaware that he has entered the home of a taxidermist. The Landlady poisoned Billy's tea and the reader can assume, because of the subtle clues woven into the fabric of the story, that she has stuffed him, along with her two other previous guests.

One reason why the story's ending is so unexpected is that the Landlady is portrayed as a magical and mysterious character. She moves around very quickly and slyly, "The dame moves about like a jack-in-the-box". She also has an unnatural interest about her young male guests, "There wasn't a blemish on his body". Her appearance is quite chilling and quite contrasting, "Small, white, quickly moving hands and red finger nails". It is quite strange that she has this colour of nails when she is an old lady. The Landlady also always refers to young Billy as "my dear" which is reminiscent of the predatory wolf in Little Red Riding Hood.

Billy is portrayed as a young and spruce man. This is shown by his new work clothes, "He was wearing a new navy-blue overcoat, a new brown trilby hat, and a new brown suit". The repetition of the word new also emphasises the fact that he is very excited about his new job and has to be very prepared. Roald Dahl also portrays Billy as an ambitious young man. He looks up to the the "big shots up at Head Office" which...
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