Lamb to the Slaughter and The Landlady by Roald Dahl


23 Mar 2015 14 Dec 2017

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In this coursework I am going to compare to short stories which are “Lamb to the Slaughter and “the Landlady” written by Roald Dahl. Roald Dahl specialises in writing stories for children in the 20th Century. Roald Dahl is the author of Factory, Charlie, Matilda , James and the Giant Peach and George's Marvellous Medicine. He uses different writing techniques in order to entertain, intrigue and to shock the reader or the audience. Born on the 13th of September 1961 in LIandaff, South Wales. He never liked school because he said students were caned and teachers where horrible to them. In 1939 he joined the Royal Air Force when the World War II started and also in 1940s he became the bestselling writer he works with both children and adult. He writes short stories which make the reader to guess what will happen at the end. When he got married, he divorced his wife and later married Patricia Neal and gave birth to five children. He died on the 23 November 1990 at the age of 74.

Lamb to the Slaughter

Lamb to the Slaughter is a short story and is about a pregnant woman (Mary Mahoney) and her husband (Patrick Mahoney). Her husband went to work and she was waiting for the husband to come home. “The room was warm and clean, the curtains drawn, the two table lamps” tell us that Mary Mahoney is in her house. When the husband came back from work, she tried to make a conversation with the husband but the husband was not giving her attention but she knew that her husband does not talk too much until his first drink is finished. She started getting worried. Mary asks the husband if he wanted dinner but, he refuses every food she gave to him. Finally Patrick spoke to Mary and said “So there it is”. “I know it's kind of a bad time to be telling you, but there simply wasn't any other way”. And he also said “of course I'll give you money and see you're looked after”. This tells the reader that Patrick is going to leave his pregnant wife Mary. She did not want to believe what Patrick was saying , she still demanded to prepared him dinner, as she went to the freeze to get the leg of lamb, Patrick told her not to make any dinner for him because his going out. Mary uses the “big frozen leg of lamb” to hit Patrick on his head and he was still standing there for about 4 - 5 seconds and fell on the carpet. He was dead, Mary was surprised and shocked and this in turn shocks the reader too. Mary quickly went to the groceries to get some potatoes and when she got home, she called the police and said her husband has been killed. On the other hand the lamb was in the oven cooking so, the police was asking her questions and they were searching the house. The doctor told the police that Patrick was hit in the head. Mary offer the police men the lamb that she was cooking in the oven. As they were busy eating the lamb they never knew they were eating the evidence and Mary started laughing.

The Landlady

The landlady is a short story and is about a young boy called Billy Weaver and a woman. Billy Weaver took a train from London and he arrives late in Bath late which was nine o'clock in the evening. He wanted a cheap hotel where he can sleep and they told him to “Try The Bell and Dragon” and is a pub house. When he was going he notices a sign “BED AND BREAKFAST”. “There was a vase of pussywillows, tall and beautiful” this tells us that the house is nice. When he rings the bell and old lady answered the door and told him to come inside. The Landlady told when he goes up stairs he should sign the guest book. As Billy was signing the guest he recognises two people's names and they were the only names on the book and they are over two years' olds. He tried to remember where he heard the names from. He remembers that one of them Eton was a school boy that disappeared but for Mr Temple he could not remember.

The Landlady told offer Billy tea and Billy could smell something that comes from the woman. Billy and Landlady started talking and she said the Eton and Temple was very handsome young men but Billy was much better. Billy asked the Landlady if those people left the Bed and Breakfast recently and she said both of the men are still in the fourth floor of the house. Billy was getting confused and he wanted to talk about some else like the parrot in a cage. When he was drinking his tea he notices a bitter almond taste and he ask the Landlady “Haven't there been any other guests here except them in the last two or three years?” She replies by saying “No, my dear. Only you”.

The writing technique Roald Dahl uses descriptive word in Lamb of the Slaughter “Warm and Clean” this tells us that the Mary Mahoney house is clean. On the other hand he uses “But the air was deadly cold and the wind was like a flat blade of ice on his cheeks” describes how cold it was and Billy needed a place to sleep. Roald also uses a simile which is “to feel-almost as a sunbather feels the sun that warm male glow” in the Lamb of the Slaughter and for the Landlady he uses “But the air was deadly cold and the wind was like a flat blade of ice on his cheeks.” Roald Dahl use a metaphor saying one thing is another “There was a slow smiling air about her” .Roald Dahl also uses emotion word like “blissful” which means it was a peaceful night for them also uses hyphen to separated words like “bone-end” in the Lamb to the Slaughter. Roald Dahl uses personification to give human qualities to any in animate object like in the Lamb of the Slaughter which was “The wind whispered his name and tortured her with his memory” this tells us that wind can not whisper or torture.

The similarities of both short stories

Mary Mahoney and the Landlady are women; both are short stories. The both stories theme are murder and which were committed by them (women). At first the both ladies is been described as been a nice generous and lady “she took his coat and hung it in the closet” tells us how caring and nice she is to her husband, however when the Landlady offers Billy a cup of tea shows us that she is nice and not every Bed and Breakfast owner will offer their customers free teas. But at the end of both stories Mary Mahoney and the Landlady tells us (reader) that they are not really nice ladies which intrigue the reader. The difference between Lamb to the Slaughter and the Landlady is that Mary Mahoney did not mean to kill her husband whiles the Landlady has killed two people before Meaning she was planning to kill Billy Weaver as well. However, Mary was pregnant and she has a husband which is Patrick and the Landlady was old and she does not have a husband. The both women use different ways to kill. Mary uses the frozen lamb she wanted to cooked for her husband Patrick whiles the Landlady poisoned Billy's tea. The mood (atmosphere) of the Landlady is, windy and cold which gives the reader an idea of what the story is going to be like. Also the mood of the Lamb to the slaughter was calm and warm at the beginning but at the end it was kind of funny and scaring because when the police men where eating the lamb Mary “giggle” . The ironic scene of the Lamb to the Slaughter is that Mary kills Patrick while she prepared the leg of lamb for the police men to eat which means that they are eating the murder weapon while they were eating it they said the weapon might be “right under their noses”. This tells us that the story could have ended in a bad way but because the police men ate the leg of lamb they can not get any evidence.

The creation and tension in the landlady is a horror story because the landlady was nice and generous to Billy and when he realise that the two guests and parrot was murdered by the landlady he became scared and confused.

The police were eating the evidence which was right under noses and I think it will be difficult to find the truth which creates a shock to the reader. It also shocks the reader how Mary Mahoney was a loving wife and turn up to be a killer. In the Landlady it also shocks the reader when Billy asked the landlady if it was just two people that have been in the Bed and Breakfast recently for the last two or three years and she said yes which shocked us.

Roald Dahl put the reader on suspense because when she kills her husband Patrick, she called the police that make us suspense that they are going to find evidence or find out who killed her husband and she even gave them the lamb to eat making us anxious that they are going to find out what happened. For the Landlady Roald Dahl put us in suspense that is when “she gives him a little smile as she replies, “No, my dear. Only you.” This makes us the reader get anxious to know if Billy was killed by the Landlady.

In my conclusion I will say that Mary Mahoney was angry and she wanted revenge because husband Patrick was going to leave her and she was six month pregnant. She did not think before acting and she did not mean to kill the husband. For the Landlady I think she was lonely and sad. She was nice but at the end she became evil. I also think she sick because everybody that comes to her Bed and Breakfast she killed them even the dog and parrot. She killed them without feeling bad or even having mercy on them.


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