Sometimes, the difference between determining a first-degree murder from manslaughter will depend upon something as minimal as one’s personal interpretation of the homicide. It is this regard that Roald Dahl demonstrates in his short story, “Lamb to the Slaughter,” in which the protagonist, Mary Maloney, commits a homicide upon her husband, Patrick. Throughout the short story, Mary Maloney is portrayed as an individual that was on the verge of being psychotic, and consequently not capable of rational thinking; therefore Mary Maloney should be sentenced to the punishment of manslaughter. Mary’s structured lifestyle, her state of shock, finally, the protection she devises for her child proves plays a key role in the unintentional murder of Patrick Maloney.
Before the victim’s death, Mary Maloney only knew one way to live, and that was to depend on her husband. Mrs. Maloney’s life depended on being orderly, as she knew the exact moment her husband would come home and prepared everything perfectly beforehand. The room was clean, the curtains were drawn, and the two lamps were alight, Mary Maloney would set up the “sideboard behind her, two tall glasses, soda water, whisky,” and fresh ice cubes in the thermos bucket, subsequently with the tick of the clock, she knew that Mr. Maloney was about to arrive home. Mary Maloney was overly dependant on her husband, as she knew every little detail of his arrival at home: “punctually as always she heard the tires on the gravel, and the car door slamming, the footsteps passing the window, the key turning in the lock,”then greeted him with a kiss. After their drinks, Mrs. Maloney asked her husband if he was “tired,” she expected him to remain silent; however, Mr. Maloney replied- Patrick Maloney broke the structure. Patrick Maloney’s every move became suspicious, although Mrs. Maloney, to the best of her abilities, was pretending that nothing was wrong, and everything was of the norm. With Patrick...
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