Lamb to the Slaughter

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Lamb to the Slaughter – Essay Topic: Roald Dahl presents Mary Maloney as both a victim and villain. Discuss this statement with close reference to the text. Through the short story ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’ Roald Dahl conveys Mary Maloney as both a harmless loving wife but also the antagonist of the crime. The protagonist Mary is quite distinctly Patrick, her husband’s target. He shows he doesn’t care for her and he wants to leave her. However, Mary can also be portrayed as a sinister villain. She killed her husband using a leg of lamb and then went to extremes to cover it up. Furthermore, Mary Maloney can be seen as both the victim but also the criminal. Dahl represents Mary the protagonist as being the innocent in the story through the maltreatment that is shown by Patrick towards her. Patrick is very dismissive towards his wife. Mary “waited on him for an answer, a smile, a little nod, but he made no sign” which shows that he treats her with minimal respect. While Mary is utterly devoted to Patrick, he clearly lacks affection, which is conveyed, through his abrupt replies. Therefore, Mary is an innocent sufferer as she endures her husband’s mistreatment. Mary is exposed as a distressed wife while her husband takes control and leaves her without warning. When Patrick stated his leaving, “Of course I’ll give you money and see you’re looked after. But there needn’t really be any fuss. I hope not anyway. It wouldn’t be very good for my job.” Which establishes that Patrick only cares about his reputation and his job, he doesn’t care about his wife at all, he leaves her with money and that’s the last of him. However, Mary can also be seen as an Antagonist, without resisting she hit her husband with a leg of lamb killing him instantly. Mrs. Maloney may have loved her husband but she clearly wanted him dead after the disturbing news that had just
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