Manipulation through Gender Roles

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Manipulation through Gender Roles Many works of literature, including even the world’s most primitive texts, portray women as decision makers and critical thinkers. These characteristics allow them to be empathetic, detail oriented, and one step ahead: the perfect recipe for potential manipulation. Typically, these stories juxtapose men and women’s dealings of the same event. The short stories “Lamb to the Slaughter” by Roald Dahl and “A Jury of Her Peers” by Susan Glaspell both incorporate this portrayal of women by telling the story of a wife murdering her husband, and how the women utilize their gender roles to manipulate the justice system, which is predominately controlled by men. The protagonist in the “Lamb to the Slaughter,” Mary Maloney, is a pregnant housewife who seemingly embraces and appreciates her subordinate role to her husband, who is ironically a senior policeman. Dahl elaborates her feelings by writing, “She loved to luxuriate in the presence of this man, and to feel – almost as a sunbather feels the sum – that warm male glow that came out of him to her when they were alone together” (Dahl 58). When Mr. Maloney arrives home, Mary wants nothing more but to please him by offering to make him supper. He refuses, announces his desire to leave her, and she ironically kills him with the frozen leg of lamb, the very dinner she so recently offered him. Dahl strategically develops Mary’s role with men throughout the story, which is a key to the theme. Mary decides to take a trip to the market immediately following the murder, and does so for the sole purpose of creating an alibi. She manipulates the male store clerk, Sam, by acting as if she is buying the groceries to please her husband. He falls for it and gives the ... ... middle of paper ... ...ul characterization of female character to build this argument. Both Mary and Minnie cultivate their potential downfalls as women, and use them to their advantage to outsmart the male dominated justice system. These stories prove that, despite biases about women being too emotional to handle themselves under pressure, women are just as capable to manipulating men through the very characteristics that make them women. Work Cited Dahl, Roald. “Lamb to the Slaughter.” The World’s Best Short Stories: Anthology & Criticism. Vol. 5: Mystery and Detection. Great Neck, NY: Roth Publishing, Inc., 1991. 58. The World’s Best Series. LitFinder. Web. 6 Dec. 2013 Glaspell, Susan. “A Jury of Her Peers.” The Best Short Stories of 1917 and the Yearbook of the American Short Story. Ed. Edward J. O’Brien Boston: Small, Maynard & Company, 1918. 256. LitFinder. Web. 6 Dec. 2013.
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