Lamb To The Slaughter By Roald Dahl

Good Essays
This short-story written by Roald Dahl is about a woman – Mary Maloney – who murders her husband with a leg of lamb. It’s really interesting to read, since it shows us, how a crucial decision in a situation like this can lead to spontaneous life altering decisions. This story also portrays how the idea of a so called ‘nuclear-family’ (the perfect family) can affect a person’s mind – the whole role-playing game between the husband and wife. This essay will interpret and discuss a characterisation of Mary and her husband Patrick, as well as a description of the setting, the title, and lastly, an attempt to put it into perspective to other crime-stories we’ve read. Good intro!

As a wife, Mary Maloney is extremely kind, devoted and thoughtful.
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It’s Thursday – probably around 1961. It’s in the afternoon/evening, and the whole story takes place within a day’s time. It’s more important to focus on the year of 1961, where women had a certain position in the society – as the ‘suppressed’ sex.
The title, ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’, is truly surprising, creative and effective. You notice that this story is driven by the plot itself – not by character or mood. With a title like this which holds a double-meaning, the reader is being offered several opportunities to interpret and explore ‘the surface’ of this story; you may find yourself rummaging through Mary’s personality to find out, how come a seemingly ordinary evening could end up in this mess. The expression itself describes an innocent person being led into danger – Dahl’s way of using it reminds us, that the lamb is led to a real killing – not a metaphorical one. Eventually, the reader also discovers that the lamb is not the victim; but the instrument. When we encounter Mary sewing and awaiting her husband, you’d normally think she’s the lamb. Although, the husband is literally being the lamb led into slaughter. At last, Mary uses the lamb as a weapon – but in the metaphorical sense, the investigating officers are also the naive followers being led to slaughter by the dinner table. The title is really just a method for Dahl to express his ironic sense of humour.

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