Mary Maloney's Characterization In Lamb To The Slaughter

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Roald Dahl's short story Lamb to the Slaughter is a very intriguing read. Dahl uses a lot of characterization throughout the story, giving subtle descriptions of what the characters are like. This happens the most with the main character, Mary Maloney. In the beginning of the story, Dahl describes Mary as as being six months pregnant, with big calm eyes. This displays a picture of innocence. The way she addresses her husband, Patrick, is caring and compassionate. As the story progresses she gets more and more uneasy until Patrick tells her very bad news, and the entire mood of the story shifts. Mary becomes removed, cold, in shock. At this point, she “simply walked up behind him and without any pause, she swung the big frozen leg of lamb high in the air and brought it down as hard as she could on the back of his head” ( ). Patrick died within seconds. Since the audience previously saw Mary as innocent and harmless, the audience is even more surprised by this sudden murder. By now her entire character has changed. She is cold, calculated.…show more content…
The second most important character is the murder victim himself, Patrick Maloney. Mary seems to have a quite inaccurate perception of her husband. She perhaps loves the idea of him and having a normal life more than she actually has affection for him. Patrick, while he is alive which is mostly in the beginning of the story, is withdrawn and mellow, due to the stress caused by having to tell Mary the bad news. This news was most likely asking to divorce her, but the exact reason is never stated up front. Dahl uses subtle cues to signal his distress. For example, he gets up and pours himself another heavy drink of alcohol after he already had one, an abnormal thing for him to do. He isn't hungry, he denies Mary's requests to prepare him dinner. These small little hints help build up the tension and give readers a glimpse into how Patrick Maloney is
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