Once hearing this news Mary Maloney was in complete astonishment, so amazed she could hardly speak. Dahl states, “her first instinct was not to believe any of it. She thought that perhaps she'd imagined the whole thing. Perhaps, if she acted as though she had not heard him, she would find out that none of it had ever happened” (Dahl 381). The circumstance in which Mary was faced with created upon her an oblivious mind. The reason for why Mary tried to avoid reality is not because she is unintelligent, but because of her obliviousness to divorces. “Lamb to the Slaughter” was a short story written and based off the time period of the 1950s. In the 1950s men never left their wives for other woman. Mary Maloney is not guilty, but oblivious to the idea of a divorce which developed her mind to reach the point of
On July 24, 2002, David Lynn Harris was brutally murdered. David had been seeing another woman in secrecy; when his wife, Clara Harris, found out, she ran over him three times with their daughter in the passenger seat witnessing everything. Clara was sentenced to 20 years in prison along with a fine of $10,000. Just as Clara was found guilty, so should Mary Maloney from the short story, Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl. This story was based in the fifties and clearly shows the roles of men and women. However, when Patrick, the husband of Mary, came home, he spoke of bad news and Mary hit him on the head with a leg of lamb, hence the name of the story. Readers can automatically come to the conclusion that Mary Maloney is guilty. Her mental stability before, during, and after the incident, the logical cover up story, and her emotions and actions towards her wrong doings all prove that she was aware and responsible for the hostile act towards Patrick, and therefore should be proven guilty.
In Roald Dahl’s short story “Lamb to the Slaughter” , Mary Maloney murders her husband, a detective, after he declares that he is leaving her. Mary then has to cover her tracks or else she and her unborn child will be killed. Throughout the story, Mary’s character changes from loving wife to cold killer and back again based on her situation.
The short story Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl contains many literary elements that contribute and impact the story and also add to the writer’s craft. The story is about a woman, Mary Maloney, who accidentally kills her husband and tricks the police into believing she is innocent. The literary element of dramatic irony was portrayed and impacted the reader’s perspective of the story. Mary Maloney, who is the killer of her husband, persuaded the police to eat a leg of lamb which actually was the murder weapon. The police do not realize they are being tricked as shown in the quote, “personally I think it’s (the murder weapon) right here on the premises” (9). The dramatic irony is that it the police are looking for the weapon but they are eating the very evidence they are looking for and do not know it. This shows that Dahl knows how to spin an ironic twist in his story without it seeming out
This is where the reader knows more then the characters, having seen the murder from Mary’s point of view and now watching the police officers discuss the crime. Also ironic, is that the police officers are doing Mary a huge favour by eating the evidence, making her practically undiscoverable. What is also special about the story, is that in the very beginning, Mary Maloney is described as a weak woman, only devoted to her husband and submissively in love with him. The reader is completely shocked when she murders her husband.
Emotive language and dialogue was a literary technique that Roald Dahl used in order to explore the idea of stereotypical gender roles which was a common societal issue particularly in the 1950s. Lamb to the Slaughter tells of a couple during the 1950s who followed the stereotypical couple concept of having a housewife and a husband working a middle-class job. Through the Maloney’s relationship it can be seen how Mary Maloney fulfilled and had a desire of wanting to provide and care for her husband using her skills of a housewife. This can be perceived in the quote; “I’ll get you cheese and crackers.” This informs readers that her nature and manner of wanting to please and satisfy the needs of her husband is very important to her. In response to Mary her husband replied with “I don’t want it”. The issue of gender roles/gender hierarchy in this particular situation encouraged Mary’s contentment of wanting to murder her husband which may have been initiated because of the imbalance within their relationship. Patrick Maloney’s reply to his wife portrays a disrespectful and inconsiderate attitude which represents the dominance and power that he has within the relationship. His authority within their relationship may have been generated because of his role as a provider for his wife. Another quote by Mr. Maloney states “sit down, just for a minute sit down,” this represents the type of relationship and interaction that the couple reflects. Their relationship shows no negotiation and inequality within the relationship; Patrick who is an educated detective, whereas Mary was just a
Dahl’s use of dramatic irony during the story helps displays the actions of Mary Maloney and other characters. Mary Maloney swings the leg of the lamb to the back of the head of her husband. Dahl says, “ she swung the big frozen leg of lamb high in the air and brought it down as hard as she could on the back of his head” (Dahl 320). As a result, this quote is effective because the lamb was used as a weapon, instead of food; which shows that Mary could use anything to harm someone without her trying or when it was her attempt to hurt that someone. The story writes, “Probably right under our very noses. What you think, Jack”. In the same way as the first quote, this sets back to Mary because she sabotages the police to eat the lamb. With the police eating the lamb she is getting rid of the evidence so she does not get caught. From the use of dramatic irony in the story, Dahl's builds Mary as a character; he also uses different irony to create her.
At the beginning of the story, Mary Maloney loves and adores her husband, this does not last very long. Dahl uses simple but strong sentences to portray the killing of Patrick Maloney “At the point, Mary Maloney simply walked up behind him and without any pause she swung the big frozen leg of lamb high in the air and brought it down as hard as she could on the back of his head.” This illustrates Mrs. Maloney walking without any hesitation, killing her beloved husband and this also exemplifies the ultimate transformation of Mrs. Maloney from her calm behavior to being over dramatic. Another detail that this phrase demonstrates is that Patrick is so focused in his thoughts that he doesn’t sense his wife walking up towards him. Dahl reveals this unexpected transformation of Mary Maloney through her actions and thoughts. Another phrase that exemplifies Mrs. Maloney’s change in character is when she thinks to herself, after killing Patrick, “‘All right,’ she told herself. ‘So I’ve killed him.’” This illustrates Mrs. Maloney’s impeccable life, or what she conceives to be her life is demolished. At this point of the story, Dahl uses direct and indirect sentences to develop the protagonist and to show the complete transformation of Mrs. Maloney and brings her to
Traumatic news can lead to traumatic actions. In Roald Dahl’s ”Lamb to the Slaughter,” main character Mary Maloney is told very shocking new that causes her to overreact and kill her husband Patrick Maloney. Their blissful life turned upside down in a matter of five minutes. Mary was a great wife to Patrick. She loved him very much and is even carrying his child. Mary always catered to Patrick and was very loyal to him. Mary Maloney is a sympathetic character because she was very loving, compliant, and only lied to protect her baby.
Author also surprises readers, when he introduces conflict between a couple that used to love each other deeply. Diverting the story from love to betrayal, author develops an irony. In the story, reader sees two examples of betrayal. Ms. Maloney, while talking with her tired husband, finds out her husband no longer want to keep their marriage. Without giving any kind of reason, Patrick betrays her wife with a decision of breaking marriage. Mary shocks, when her husband, boldly, says, “ This is going to be bit shock of you”(P. Maloney) Author creates a total opposite picture of Patrick by describing him as a husband who used to give her wife surprises; he is now giving her shock in the middle of her pregnancy. Mary, who was previously shown as “anxiety less”(Dahl), with “a slow smiling air”(Dahl) and “curiously tranquil”(Dahl), had began to get upset and now inculcate her eye with a “bewildered look.” After betrayed by her husband, she, without any argue, she goes to the basement to look for frozen food. She decides to have leg of a lamb as a last dinner with her husband, but she smashes the frozen leg in to Patrick’s head with killing him. Mary betrays her husband by killing him and takes revenge of her betrayal. Later, Author confirms her as a murdered with the statement of “I’ve killed him”(Mary) from her own lips. Dahl, in the story,
Mary is very manipulative in that she is able to create the character of the poor, pregnant wife, whose husband has just been murdered. She is able to convince the police to take pity on her, to mix her a drink and then to even eat the evidence, the leg of lamb that she has left in the oven. "Why don’t you eat up that lamb that is in the oven" (Dahl, p. 17). Mary realizes that if the police find the evidence she will go to jail. Her quick thinking and manipulative character results in the police officers eathign the evidence and therefore she cannot be charged of this crime. These actions show the complex character that Mary Maloney truly is.
Dahl’s use of dramatic irony reveals that common sense is gone when something illegal happens. After killing her with a frozen lamb leg, Mary Maloney to come over and investigate while the lamb is cooking in the oven. After the lamb is done cooking, she offers the police to eat some while
Dahl’s protagonist in “Lamb to Slaughter”, Mary Maloney, displays her deceitful nature when her husband comes home from a long day of work. Mary kills Patrick with a frozen leg of lamb after he informs her that he wants a divorce. Immediately thereafter, she goes to the store to purchase vegetables. This is the beginning of her deceit. Mary clearly does not need vegetables. Her trek to the store is her way of creating an an alibi. This adds another layer to her deception. Here, she engages in a conversation with a seemingly familiar clerk, Sam. She informs him that Patrick “decided he’s tired and doesn’t want to eat out tonight” (Dahl 3). This gives Sam the impression that her husband is still alive when in all actuality, he is dead. She has added yet another layer to her level of deception. Mary’s deception has no limits. She eventually deceives herself into thinking she did not murder her husband. She convinces herself that she is “not expecting to find
Mary's husband tells her that he is leaving her. "´So there it is," he added. "And I know it's a bad time to be telling you this, but there simply wasn't any other way. Of course, I'll give you money and see that you're taken care of. But there really shouldn't be any problem. I hope not, in any case.´¨ The husband makes it sound like Mary must depend on him -- like she is worthless without him. In reality, Mary can take care of herself. As if to prove this point Dahl has Mary kill her husband. Which can be seen as the ultimate act of revenge. At this point, Mary has called the cops and they are arriving. ¨´The car came very quickly, and when she opened the front door, two policemen walked in. She knew them both. She knew nearly all the men at the police station."Is he dead?" she cried. "I'm afraid he is. What happened?´" This is perhaps the darkest form of revenge simply out of the fact that the statements she makes are out of anger. It is plain deceit -- Mary is lying to men she has known for a long time. The dark and simple dialogue in this section of Lamb to the Slaughter shows an extreme form of revenge, in the case, murder.
This is a twisted, gripping tale of Mary Maloney, who murders her own husband by hitting him with a frozen leg of lamb and then hiding her crime and disposing of the evidence by feeding the lamb to the policemen who come to investigate the murder.