Betrayal, Justice and Passivity in Roald Dahl's "Lamb to the Slaughter"
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Roald Dahl, a British novelist, offered his readers a classical short story, “ Lamb to the Slaughter,” with the tale of betrayal, justice, injustice and passivity. Two main characters of the story are detective Mr. Patrick and Ms. Patrick who live in small town. Roald Dahl tries to reflect human nature of perversity, and cruelty through the “ Lamb to the Slaughter”. As the story progresses, theme of love, passion, betrayal and injustice grow stronger. Author smartly shows us how an idle wife becomes a smart criminal to take the revenge of her betrayal and successes to trick officers.
As the first paragraph is introduced, Roald Dahl develops an image of Mrs. Patrick Maloney as an idle housewife. Description of the living room reflects the systematic nature of her. Table, set up for her husband with two glasses and a wine bottle proves her skill in arranging items. Roald Dahl describes her as she had “slow smiling air”(Dahl) and “ tranquil body”(Dahl). Her image of a gorgeous and smart housewife gives a reason to her husband to adore her. Along with the sophisticated housewife, Author portrays Mrs. Maloney a passionate lover as well. In the beginning of the story, Mary feels passion and love for her husband. Her description of placid looking eyes and soft mouth, and her six-month pregnancy makes us to think of her calm and caring nature. “She laid aside her sewing, stood up, and went forward to kiss him as he came in” (Dahl) refers how energetic and passionate she is about arrival of her husband, even though she is caring a six month old baby. In the story, Roald Dahl had described every little move of her before Mr. Maloney’s arrival. After her husband’s arrival, she, like always, make a glass of whisky for her husband exactly h...
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...em by showing us on-duty cops, enjoying taste of wine. Without being strict on their investigation, police officers are unjust to the victim. Rather than feeling sorrow for the unexpected death of their colleague, officers enjoy the leg of the lamb in the feast. Dahl also creates a situational irony in the end, when officer Jack says, “Murder weapon is right under our very nose”.
Roald Dahl when wrote the story, it was first rejected. Later it was published in magazine and was a huge success. Dahl successfully combined the theme of passion, love, betrayal, and injustice in a piece of literature. When reader reads the story, he or she comes across with many ironies through out the play. Through those ironies, Dahl smartly criticized the system, and human nature. In fact, story was written much more to provide moral of “humans are born evil” than just to entertain.