In the story ‘The Landlady’ Dahl keeps the reader interested by using a range of techniques. This essay will focus on the use of his language, setting, characters and foreshadowing. Dahl wrights the story about a gullible, young boy named Billy Weaver who stays at an unusual Bed and Breakfast run a mysterious old lady that that welcomes him only to drug him and stuff him for her collection. Dahl builds tension by describing the setting in detail. He gives the reader a picture of what the scene would look like and sets a daunting atmosphere from the very start of the story.
You know it is nighttime as Dahl mentions that the moon was coming up out of the clear sky and it makes the reader want to read on because nighttime represents evil and you feel that something horrific will happen from the mood Dahl has created. When Billy Weaver catches sight of the Bed and Breakfast he sees a bright fire burning in the hearth, pleasant furniture, and a pretty little dachshund through the window, this almost tells the reader that something has to be wrong, because it is too good to be true.
Also, the street on which the Bed and Breakfast is found on is wide, with no shops and only a tall line of houses on each side. This sets a chilling feel, and it makes the Bed and Breakfast seem out of place. The language used in the story is very effective, and keeps the reader interested from the very beginning. Dahl uses words such as ‘blade’ and ‘deadly cold’ to describe the weather, and also uses a wide range of vocabulary to describe the setting and characters. Dahl also uses repetition of words. BED AND BREAKFAST, BED AND BREAKFAST’ This is used to build suspense and tension. In this story Dahl has created two characters. Billy Weaver and the landlady. Billy Weaver is a gullible, young boy who has just been sent to work for his company in Bath. He looks up to the big shots up at the head office and tries to be more brisk, just like them, making him an optimistic character. He is also incredibly and innocent, he refers the landlady to a jack in the box, which is a children’s toy, and gives the impression that he is childish.
Dahl has created a character that is vulnerable, and is almost a target for danger. The landlady on the other hand, is a strange character. She appears to be a harmless old lady that’s a bit off her rocker, but there are signs that create suspicion about her. The landlady is very jumpy and moves quickly making her seem nervous. There is also something wired about the way she acts towards Billy, she calls him by the wrong name and keeps complimenting him, even though she has never met him before. Then at once —it must have been at once because he hadn’t even had time to take his finger from the bell button—the door swung open and a woman was standing there. ’ This makes the landlady seem odd because she must have been waiting for him in order to answer the door that quickly. Then when she shows him up to his room, she says to Billy ‘I’ve put a water bottle between the sheets to air them out’ This is also out of the ordinary because it is not possible her to run upstairs, put a water bottle between the sheets, then run back down again and answer the door, before Billy could even take his finger off the doorbell.
These small things, build up a strange character that is a bit mysterious and seems to be crazy. Dahl has created these characters to interest you into reading more, because you want to find out what this strange old woman will do to poor, naive Billy Weaver. In the story Dahl’s use of foreshadowing prepares readers for the end of the story. He uses hints such as the sign, Bed and Breakfast, which almost hypnotized Billy into coming inside and tells you that something abnormal is going on.
Also, when the landlady tells Billy that the previous guests are still upstairs on the third floor and that the dachshund and bird were stuffed, you get a good idea on what will happen to Billy in the end. Even the vocabulary Dahl uses are small hints to what may happen later on in the story. In conclusion, Dahl’s use of language, setting, characters and foreshadowing keeps the reader interested throughout the story, and crated an atmosphere that hooked the reader from start to finish.