This essay will be discussing the representation of ladies in Roald Dahl's Tales of the unexpected group of short stories, with particular mention of Mary Maloney in Lamb to the Slaughter. In addition to considering the role of ladies in his other stories THE PERSON from the South plus the Land lady.
Roald Dahl wrote these stories in the 1950's when the expected roles of women were unique of they are simply today. The 50's was a time when women were still expected to be house wives and stay at home doing the home work, cooking and raising the kids, whilst men were expected to venture out to work and become the bread winner. This unlike today when it's acceptable for women to visit work and become the primary bread winner whilst their husbands stay at home to do what used to be the women's role.
Lamb to the Slaughter is the storyplot of a female, Mary Maloney, who kills her husband after he tells her he's leaving her.
The opening sentences are quite long and written almost by means of a list.
"The area was warm and clean, the curtains drawn, the two-table lamps alight-hers and the one by the empty chair opposite. Within the sideboard behind her, two tall glasses, soda water, whisky. Fresh ice cubes in the thermos bucket. "
This slows the reading of the paragraph and provides a relaxed feeling to it, and really helps to set the feeling that the room the paragraph is approximately is a warm and welcoming place. The use of alliteration here "two table lamps" and "two tall glasses" gives emphasis to the actual fact that the room is established for two people. This and the fact there can be an empty chair opposite hers gives the feeling that the area is somehow incomplete with only her there.
This is in contrast to the way The Man from the South opens, which starts with
"It was getting on toward six o'clock therefore i thought I'd buy myself a beer and go out and sit in a deck chair by the swimming pool and have just a little evening sun. I went to the bar and got the beer and carried it outside and wandered down the garden toward the pool. "
These are two short sentences that are not very descriptive and not tell the reader much about the setting. Also the person from the South is written from an initial person perspective unlike Lamb to the Slaughter which has been written in one third person perspective.
When we first meet Mary she is waiting for her husband, Patrick, to get back from work. We are told that "she would glance up at the clock without anxiety" this makes the reader feel they are observing the scene and provides the impression that Mary is happy and content and isn't expecting anything out of the ordinary to happen that night but yet another evening with her husband, the same they experienced for years. Yet another way she is described is really as being "tranquil" which also provides feeling that she actually is happy.
Some of the ways that Mary is represented as an average 1950's house wife are that she has the house nice and clean, she's got drinks ready and waiting for her husband on his return and she gets up to great him with a kiss and take his coat when he arrives. All these things are what were expected of women at that time. This might make the reader think that she is a normal house wife who knows her devote the relationship is usually to be at home doing the cooking and cleaning and also to make sure her husband is happy and comfortable when he gets home after a hard days work.
Dahl gives the reader the impression that this woman is a significant meek and serene person. He does this by descriping just how she feels when her husband has just arrived home after work as being "a blissful time of day" and she was content to sit quietly enjoying his company whilst he'd sit across from her not talking until he previously finished his first drink. Also he says that "She loved to luxuriate in the presence of this man" and would feel just like a sunbather in "the warm male glow that came from him to her". Then Dahl goes on to describe a few of the small things she loves about him like the way he sits in is chair, the way he walks across an area and even the funny form of his mouth. These tell the reader that she actually is still quite definitely in live with this man as they are the small things that other people would not notice about someone else except the one that they are very close to. She also seems very submissive and eager to please to him by the way she keeps asking if she can do anything for him like when she asks if he wants his slippers or if he would like some cheese. This all gives the reader the sensation that woman wouldn't normally the type who conclude smashing her husband in the head with a frozen leg of lamb.
Similarly when the reader is introduced to the landlady in "The Landlady" she actually is described as a 50 year old lady with a warm and welcoming smile with a round pink face with very gentle blue eyes. She actually is also referred to as looking "the same as the mother of one's best school friend welcoming one in to the house to stay for Christmas holidays. " Furthermore at one point it's said that "she was not only harmless" and "she was also quite obviously a sort and generous soul". This would give the reader the impression that she actually is not a dangerous person and there would be no reason to feel that she likes to poison teenagers and stuff them like her pets.
When Patrick tells Mary that he's leaving her he seems to make an effort to play it down a bit by saying "I know it's kind of any bad time for you to be letting you know"
And that it is not that bad when he says
"I'll offer you money and discover you're looked after"
Also that it is not his fault by saying
"I hope you do not blame me too much"
Obviously he's only saying those things so Mary won't make a big commotion about any of it you can tell this incidentally he continues on to say
"There needn't really be any fuss. I am hoping not anyway. It wouldn't be very best for my job".
Hits him over head wobbles funny like woman shaking man in from the south
Gets police to eat lamb / landlady gets Billy to drink tea
Police funny must be a huge weapon whilst eating it
Compare ends Mary in charge gets away with it
Finger woman in control owns everything
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