Literary Criticism In The Lamb To The Slaughter

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Short stories have been told for centuries to teach valuable lessons, to pass down history and culture and to entertain. It is fascinating to analyze all of the examples of writer’s craft and literary elements and see how they make a decent story extravagant. Both Lamb to the Slaughter and The lady or the Tiger used literary elements in important ways, but Lamb to the Slaughter was more effective in its use and enhanced the story more with its use of literary elements and writer’s craft. The Lamb to the Slaughter has many instances where imagery, verbal irony and dramatic irony are evident. The author, Roald Dahl, uses word choice to paint a vivid image in the reader’s mind. He used imagery in the very first paragraph when he describes Mary Maloney’s house; he uses very descriptive language to show how the house is set up. Dahl says “The room was warm and clean, the curtains drawn, the two table lamps alight - hers and the one by the empty chair opposite. On the sideboard behind her, two tall glasses, soda water, whiskey.” This gives the reader the idea that the house is cozy and the woman is is sitting in a darker room, only lit by the two table lamps. He implies that this is a happy family’s home and that they like to spend time together. Little does the reader know that the family is not going to be as happy in a few moments when Mary’s husband gets home. Something peculiar about how the story is written is the lack of detail about what made a happy couple turn into the murderer and the murdered. The husband, Patrick, came home to a wife who loved him with her whole heart and told her to sit down because he needed to tell her something, however, the author leaves out what is said. Whatever he said left Mary numb and in shock. She walked down into the cellar and grabbed something random and saw that it was a lamb’s leg. She shakily walked up the stairs and hit her husband with it and he died. It can be inferred that this all happened because of the unknown conversation between Mary and Patrick, her husband. “And he told her. It didn't take long, four or five minutes at most.” Mary’s life is forever changed by these four minutes. Her husband said he would give her money, which implies that he may have

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