Roald Dahl, born 13/9/1916, is best known as a children’s author for writing books such as The Twits, Matilda, The BFG, Charlie and the chocolate factory and many more. In 1943, he published his first children’s book “The Gremlins” with Walt Disney and in 1945 his first book of short stories appeared in the US. Not only is he well known for writing children’s stories but he also has produced a popular collection for adults called tales of the unexpected. His books are mostly fantasy, and full of imagination.
They are always a little cruel, but never without humour – a thrilling mixture of the grotesque and comic. A frequent motif is, that people are not, what they appear to be. The three stories that I have chosen to be analysed are: The land lady, Lamb to the Slaughter, and man from the south. I believe that each of these stories where set in the 1950’s because of the language used by the characters in the stories. Also the settings of the stories give evidence of their era’s.
Roald Dahl has published several novels and nearly 50 short stories all of which, without exemption, are fascinating, intriguing and bizarre. One of Dahl’s more famous stories is “Lamb to the Slaughter”. This clever story is crafted down to the smallest detail – every word and expression implies something, often has a meaning and so manipulates the reader’s opinion. What makes this story even more interesting, is that it is written from the murderer’s point of view, while the opinion of the author is still evident.
Lamb to the slaughter is set in the stereotypical home of the 1950s, with the ‘warm and clean’ setting and ‘curtains drawn’. He describes the main character, Mary Maloney as the perfect housewife as he describes how she ’was waiting’ for her husband, ’fresh ice cubes’ that shows how good she is at housekeeping. It is shown how Mary is happy for her husband Patrick to return home from work as Dahl explains how she heard the tyres on the gravel, the footsteps etc.. As soon as Patrick walks through the door Mary is full of concern for her husband ’tired darling’, then greeting him with a tall glass of alcohol.
Dahl describes how she loves to luxuriate in her husbands presence of this man, ‘almost as a sunbather feels the sun’. As we start to question whether this devoted woman is being given back any love in return from her husband, Dahl soon starts to describe how he uses direct talk, commanding her to ‘sit down’. We soon start to realise that Patrick Maloney is acting ‘unusual’, as he makes ‘no sign’ towards his wife. He soon starts to explain how he is leaving her for another women and how he will give her money for the baby etc.. ut as she is in ‘dazed horror’ her first instinct is to ignore what her husband just said and she fussed over Patrick, asking him if he would like any dinner and ignoring him as he says he is not hungry. It is asif Mary’s Character has been removed and someone else has taken over her, as she walks down to the freezer and picks up the hard, frozen solid leg of lamb and places it in her hands and slowly walks back towards her husband as he is stood, facing the window she hits him over the head and just froze, he dropped to the ground.
After soon realising her husband is dead, she gets her thoughts together and ’rehearses’ what she will say to the shop keeper Sam, as she practices her smile and speech in the mirror she gathers her self together and goes on down to the shop to get her alibi. She soon returns back, calling the police and screaming in terror as they come to her house putting on the perfect character for the police to believe that she is a distraught widow. The character that Dahl has lead us to believe to be a kind and caring wife, has slowly disappeared and a evil, crazy woman seems to have taken her place.
As she offers the police the lamb she has cooked, they don’t realise that it is the murder weapon, as the police men say ‘the weapon could be right under our noses’… Land Lady, is a sort story from part of the collection Roald Dahls, ‘Tales of the unexpected’. The main character is soon introduced as the happy, welcoming, middle ages lady who is completely harmless, and couldn’t hurt a fly. With her ‘gentle blue, eyes’ and ‘round, pink face’ you wouldn’t be able to understand why no one would not take like to her. Billy Weaver arrives in Bath after taking the train from London.
He’s never been to the town before, but he’s due to start a new job there soon and he’s excited at the prospect. He notices a sign in the window of a nearby house: “BED AND BREAKFAST. ” Billy looks in the window and notices that it’s a ‘charming house‘, with a ‘roaring fire’ and ‘a little dog curled up asleep on the rug‘. On an impulse, he decides to check it out and rings the bell. It is answered immediately a little old lady who invites him to enter and tells him the room rate. As it’s less than half what he was prepared to pay, Billy decides to stay.
The woman who he is immediately faced with is described as a warm and welcoming woman with a ‘round, pink face’ and ‘gentle, blue eyes’, it is understanding how Billy is drawn in to the house, and how he can not believe his look. But you can see that Billy could start to question the Landlady because, he is confused when he rings the door bell, it was like the moment he pressed the button she instantly opened to door, as Roald Dahl uses the simile ’ this dame was like a jack in the box’, this makes you think that she knew that Billy was coming and that she was waiting for him.
You begin to question the lady, because Billy notices there was nothing that could indicate that their were any other guests staying at the house, as Roald Dahl describes ’there were no other coats, no hats, no walking sticks, no umbrellas, nothing. ’ Even though Billy has realised this, he is still naive to go ahead with staying at the B&B. Billy thinks she’s ’harmless’ that maybe she had ’probably lost her son in the war’, but the reader could still be suspicious towards the Landlady, she says how choosy she is towards other house guest and Dahl uses a use of assonance when saying ’teeny, weeny bit choosy’.
As Billy signs the guest book, he notices two names that he recognises, previously she has spoken about the two guests, both in the past and the present. She begins to talk about how the guests are still staying here, when she says ‘ they are still here, both of them still on the third floor’. Knowing that Billy didn’t see any coats etc in the hallway as he first arrived, he still decided to stay. But she goes on to use a simile and explain, ‘his skin was just like a babies’, this makes the reader wonder how she knows so much about Mr Mullholland.
As she ‘sailed in to the room, holding the silver tray high up like a frisky horse’ this comes across that she is excited to pour Billy a drink, and that’s she is in a rush to poison him. Dahl uses taste ,‘The tea tasted of bitter almonds’ to understand that maybe she has been poisoning the guests, because the taste of the almonds would indicate the taste of poison. The reader begins to understand that Billy is beginning to realise that she was not what she was made out to be, and not the caring and welcoming middle aged lady.
This is not what Billy thought it would be, he thought that he had a good deal and it was a ‘pretty decent house to stay in’, as now Billy starts to realise how really wrong he was. You can see how both women in Lamb to the slaughter and The landlady are connected because, the situations are quite similar like when they both turn on the other characters, and that they both don’t come across how they seem at first. Roald Dahl describes Man from the south setting as a typical holiday, with the ‘big coconut trees’ and ‘yellow umbrellas’.
The wind was blowing in the tree tops and the sun was shining. It later moves into a hotel room where the bet is going to take place. The main characters would be the little man, “me”, the American cadet with the lighter and the English girl. The little lady who joins the story later is a very important character for the story but you don’t get to know her very well, and she is not involved as much as the others. When the main character ‘me’ is introduced, he comes across as a harmless middle aged man.
His accent is the main give away for his, decent personality, as he has a south American accent. a cadet and a English girl ask to sit down, and then they also sit down. The cadet offers a cigarette to everyone. When he’s going to light the cigarette the man says “That will not work in this wind. ” “Sure it’ll work. It always works” the cadet answers. They start a discussion. He wants to bet with the cadet. he says “If the lighter lights ten times in row, the cadet gets the little man’s Cadillac” and “if the lighter doesn’t light, the little man gets the cadet’s little finger on his left hand”.
First the cadet doesn’t like the bet, but agrees after some discussion. Then everyone goes to the little man’s hotel room where the bet is going to take place. First, Carlos says, “we have a little Martini”. After the little man gets the chopping knife from his maid, he prepares for the bet. The cadet has to have his hand on a table, so the little man can take his finger as soon as the lighter fails to light. The lady comes in and takes the chopping knife from the little man’s hand and throws it on the bed.