Lamb to the slaughter

Presenting of all episodes are in chronological order and logically connected. Analysis characters main characters and their feelings. Creating the illusion of an ideal family at the beginning of the story. Analysis of style "Lamb to the Slaughter".

Рубрика Литература
Вид эссе
Язык английский
Дата добавления 19.05.2015
Размер файла 20,8 K

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Analysis of the plot

The story opens on Mary Maloney. She is a devoted and loving housewife in her sixth month of pregnancy, is waiting for her husband, a police officer, to get home from work. Nothing portends trouble until returned Patrick Maloney informs wife he is going to divorce her. Mary goings to shock and hits him over the head with the frozen leg of lamb.

The conflict between the couple is not only one here. Mary realizes what she has done and makes an alibi. She puts the meat in the oven and goes to the local grocery store to get peas and potatoes and tell Sam, the grocer, what she is cooking for a supper. Mary Maloney manages to get the policemen to eat the murder weapon whilst they are looking for it. This is of course the moment of greatest emotional intensity, is the climax, because we know how much Mary Maloney has to lose if she is found out. At the same time, it is the denouement, because the evidence is destroyed and Mary will not be captured for the crime.

All episodes are presented in chronological order and logically connected. The story is the event, which enclosed in a few hours without the lyrical digressions and flashbacks. The plot is thick and unexpected, with plenty of twists and red herrings. The murder of Patrick is the point where all are changed. There is not hope for a happy family as it seemed at first, and so hard to believe that a loving and pregnant wife turns into a cold-blooded killer. Even so the story corresponds to realities of life and completely plausible.

Analysis of the characters

There the qualities of the protagonist and the antagonist are changed to opposite. The main character and the protagonist of the story is Mary Maloney. Mary's goal is to get away with the murder of her husband and hide the evidence. We, the readers, route for Mary to reach her goal even though it is not good and she is the "bad guy". She is dynamic character because she changes drastically throughout this story. At first, she is a simple and sweet pregnant woman - the typical wife of 1950's when the story was published. She gets a great pleasure in providing her husband with a pleasant and relaxing atmosphere to come home to. The author describes a cozy atmosphere in the house: “The room was warm and clean, the curtains drawn … On the sideboard behind her, two tall glasses, soda water, whisky. Fresh ice cubes in the Thermos bucket.” She loves Patrick and his company and wants nothing more than to share a happy life together with him. She uses soft words to her husband: "Tired, darling?", "Darling, shall I get your slippers?".

However, when her unwaveringly devoted service is just thrown away for no apparent good reason, something breaks in her brain. This carefully constructed portrait above clearly does not prepare us for is the situational irony that comes when Mary kills her husband, her ability to plan the "perfect murder" and likewise her "giggle" at the end of the story, which rather disturbingly suggests a darker side to human nature.

The antagonist is the group of policemen despite they are `good guys'. They are trying to find out who did it and to stop Mary from achieving that goal.

Patrick Maloney is important character too. This flat character is stereotype as the disgruntled husband who wants out of a marriage gone stale. Patrick Maloney doesn't live long enough to develop as a character, but we see another side to him through the dialogue with the police officers and Mrs Maloney. He was on a first name basis with his colleagues and was evidently both respected and well-liked. The policemen agree to drop protocol and have dinner at Mrs Maloney's because that's what Patrick 'would have wanted.'

Analysis of the settings

The author gives us many settings. The way the settings are described is one reason it is the good short story and they are very important here.

At first, the events of the story take place at home of Maloney spouses in ordinary Thursday evening, when they usually goes out to eat. It is why Mary does not cook a supper on Thursdays. “The room was warm and clean, the curtains drawn …”, author gives us to feel the warm and cozy atmosphere in the house, so we may suppose that Mary is the perfect wife and mistress. The сhairs of Mary and Patrick are opposite each other, which causes a feeling of confrontation between them.

Between 5 and 6 p.m. the murder is happened, and it is nearly nine when Mary offers policemen drink of whiskey, that makes them feel hungry, and eat a leg of lamb. This time is just enough to make it prepared.

The fact that Patrick is policeman is very important. This is the reason obviously a good policemen's attitude to Mary and their consent to drink and dine in their home, being on service.

The pregnancy of Mary also increases loyalty to her and the impression of what is happening.

Analysis of the point of view

"Lamb to the Slaughter" is written in third person limited point of view. At the beginning of the story the author describes as the perfect wife and creates an illusion of ideal family's life. Then from the dialog of the couple the reader understand Patrick is a rough man who leaves his pregnant wife.

The story is told from the point of view of Mary Maloney. We can see this because the narrator comments on Mary's thoughts and feelings, but does not comment on any other characters. The reader knows only what she knows, see and feel with her but not all. This choice to tell the story from the point of view of the murderer is an interesting choice and one that largely defines this story. The telling from Patrickґs or one of policemen point of view couldn't give a complete understanding of all that happened.

On the other hand, the reader is not given access to the reasoning behind Patrick's decision to leave. This makes it far easier for the reader to be on Mary's side when she makes questionable decisions and to show that save their marriage is impossible. Nevertheless at times, such as the end of the story, the reader knows more than the other characters, especially in relation to the leg of lamb.

Analysis of style and tone

There are many themes as injustice, love, dedication, but only a few of them most important for the context.

The main theme in 'Lamb to the Slaughter' is concerned with how we overlook the true nature of a person or situation when we allow preconceived notions to cloud our judgment. Mary is not we thought. The proverb “Don't judge a book by its cover” well captures the essence of the topic.

An important theme in this story also is betrayal. The reader see a housewife who is betrayed by her husband, who says that he is leaving her. She thinks that everything is okay; she is pregnant, glowing, happy. She makes meals for him, and doesn't have any reason to suspect that he is unhappy. Then, he drops the bomb that he is leaving and to try no to make "any fuss...it wouldn't be very good for my job." This is an awful betrayal for her. Ironically, she betrays his friends later, through her covering up of the crime.

The next important theme of "Lamb to the Slaughter" is that the weak can become stronger than you could ever believe. When Mary's husband broke the break up news to her, she snapped, but she rose up against what he had told her and killed him, disposed of the evidence accordingly and moved on.

Analysis of style and tone

episode character story style

``Lamb to the Slaughter'' is representative of Dahl's economical style and dry, dark sense of humor. The author does not give the characteristics of the heroes, and fills the story a lot of detail to cause the reader to go below the surface to find the meanings in the story. He writes in a very straightforward manner with an undertone of eeriness, one that allows the reader to understand from the very beginning that there is no successful conclusion. He uses the contrast. In the beginning we see overly perfect picture of the house, the woman who is smiling without any apparent reason. Everything here is very good. Then we see the worst that can happen to a family and the darkest side of the “ideal” woman.

The whole story is full of irony. Dahl's technique reaches a hilarious peak in the dinner scene, in which the police officers eat the leg of lamb and discuss the possibility of finding the blunt instrument used to kill Patrick. The officers' complacence, their belief that as soon as they finish eating they will easily be able to track down the murder weapon, and their actual behavior as unwitting accessories to their friend's murder reveal the polarities on which the story is built.

“Personally, I think it's right here on the premises.”

“Probably right under our very noses. What you think, Jack?”

“And in the other room, Mary Maloney began to giggle.”

The scene is shocking: Mary giggling after killing her husband and getting away from it. The same Mary which, hours before, waited dutifully for her husband. The tone here is disbelief, shock, and terror to a point.

Analysis of symbol

The symbol of the story we firstly see in the title. The original use of "Lamb to the Slaughter" is found in the Bible. This phrase is located in both Jeremiah and Isaiah. The phrase “like a lamb to a slaughter” represents something innocent happily making its way towards a negative situation in which it will most likely get hurt. Looking at the story, this phrase could be relevant to either character and it has a number of meanings though.

The first clear meaning is one that is a form of dark humor. The lamb in this case is actually a murder weapon. This twists the meaning of lamb to the slaughter into something that is not a metaphor but what actually happens.

While the first meaning is clear, the metaphorical use of the statement is still valid. The lamb, signifies Patrick, who naively thought he could divorce his wife without any repercussions and was slaughtered as a result.

The lamb may also symbolize Mary who is regarded as a timid and meek housewife before she murders her husband.

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