Lamb to the Slaughter

Literary Analysis
Irony is a major stylistic device used in “Lamb to the Slaughter”. After Mary Maloney kills her husband, she puts the murder weapon, a frozen leg of lamb, in the oven to cook. She says to the detectives “Why don’t you eat up that lamb that’s in the oven? It’ll be cooked just right by now.” The author used dramatic irony in this part to show that things aren’t always what they seem to be. This also adds excitement and a conclusion to the plot. While the detectives thought they were just getting a free meal, in reality; they were eating the very weapon that had killed Patrick Maloney only a few hours before. “All right, she told herself. So I’ve killed him” The situational irony here is because you think that after she kills her loving husband by mistake, she would be heartbroken and just fall apart. This shows how situations can change depending on the circumstances. The author wrote it this way to show how the way we perceive situations could be different from the way someone sees them. This story and the irony used in it allow us to see things in a way that we may have never imagined.

The simple, yet exciting, plot in “Lamb to the Slaughter” tells a story of a women and her dead husband. “Mary 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.” This shows how our emotions, no matter how suppressed they are, can get the better of us at any moment. We react in ways that aren’t natural for us and have unplanned consequences. “You know that oven of yours is still on, and the meat still inside.” This shows how traumatic events can take over your life. Everything else seems to disappear from your mind. I think the author wrote his story as kind of a metaphor for human emotions. The plot symbolizes so much more.

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The connection between the irony and plot in this story is that the irony helps develop the plot. The title, “Lamb to the Slaughter”, connects both points. The phrase actually means someone who doesn’t know they are about to be hurt or killed. The plot is that the husband tells her traumatic news and that she unexpectedly kills him. As for the irony of the story, she actually kills him with a leg of lamb, connecting to the title and the plot. The story uses many other stylistic devices and elements to create a well
written story that is both mysterious and exciting.

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