In a world where audiences are not easily entertained an have an unlimited variety of sources from which to choose from. A short story must captivate its reader. Roald Dahl’s ‘Lamb To The Slaughter’ does this through Plot Twist, Unique setting and Dramatic Irony
‘Lamb To The Slaughter’, captivates the reader by using Plot Twist when miss Maloney gets a frozen leg of Lamb and swings it in fury of her husband wanting to dump her, when she’s just months off, from having her first child. ‘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’. The plot twist in the quote makes the reader feel uneasy and a sense of Miss Malonlys Batrail, to her husband and the extent that she has done it in. As a result of the reader being left uneasy and unaware of what’s to come, the reader’s interest is soon brought to when Partick is still standing and then he crashes to the carpet. Another plot twist that is created in the story is when Patrick dumps Miss Maloney. ‘She sat through it all, watching him with puzzled horror’. The reader is drawn to imagine the emotion on her face as she sits with her husband, the person who she loves, decides to leave her all alone. As a result of this, the reader is left curious, and wanting to know more, about the situation. Patrick’s betrayal of Miss Maloney infuriates her and not long after, she kills her husband with a leg of lamb. The way Roald Dahl did this plot twist was perfect. It is some of many ways to write an engaging, enjoyable short story.
Another way that ‘Lamb To The Slaughter’ creates and maintains reader engagement is through the use of Unique Setting for a housewife in 1950s Britain. ‘Each minute that went by made it nearer the time when he would come home’. Emotive language in the quote shows how much miss Maloney loves her beloved husband, and the reader can feel that connection between her and Patrick. As a result of this, Miss Maloney is always wanting to see and be around her deer husband, which the reader finds that engaging because they want to find out more about their relationship and if and if anything could jeopardise that relationship between the two of them. Unique setting has shown emotive language to create a short story which will be one to remember, making it so captivating to the reader. A second example of a unique setting is when miss Maloney takes Patrick’s jacket and hangs it up for him. ‘She took his coat and hung it up’. Allusion shows the life of a housewife in 1950s Britan and the roles woman played in society in the 50s and beyond. The reader can tell that miss Maloney is effectively Patrick’s servant for whatever he wants. She cooks, cleans, shops for him on a daily basis and many women do that in today’s society. The reader could relate to this and understand what life was like for miss Maloney and all the hard work she would have to do. Motive language and allusion have shown how unique setting is accomplished in
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‘Lamb To The Slaughter’, which many people can relate to has made it very engaging for the reader.
A third way that ‘Lamb To The Sluter’ shows reader engagement is thought Dramatic Irony. ‘Hello Sam’, she said brightly out loud. Dramatic Irony show, just how much the reader knows and how little the characters know. Miss Maloney hides the fact that she has killed her husband, and says, that ‘Patrick’s decided he is tired’, but in reality, he’s not tired, but he is dead. Which the reader knows but the characters in the short story don’t know, which makes the reader feel unsettled and a little nervous. By the reader knowing what really happened and the characters in the story don’t they so want to know more and what happens next, which has led to the story being so engaging. Another way dramatic irony is done is when, the cops and detectives are searching and examining the whole house to find clues for who the killer was, and how this all happened, but they didn’t know it was Miss Maloney. ‘And in the other room, Mary Maloney began to laugh’. Tone in the quote makes the ready fell anxious and edgy, as they know what the detectives don’t, which is that miss Maloney metaphorically has blood all over here hands. The quote being the last line of the story if leaves an indecisive cliff hanger, to the reader meaning no one knows what happens next which makes anyone who reads this want to know what happens to miss Maloney. If she got caught red-handed or got off scot-free with no one knowing what happens next, which makes it very engaging.
Roald Dahl captivates his readers as the readers are left unsettled and unaware of what is to come, through the use of plot twist, and are drawn into emotion of the killing of Patrick as miss Maloneys revenge to teach him a lesson he would never forget. It also entertains the reader through unique setting to give a light of life for a woman in 1950s Britan as being a housewife to take care of the man. Lastly, reader engagement is achieved through dramatic irony to show how miss Maloney put on a brave face to her surrounding after killing the person she loved which is hidden from the characters in the story. It is not easy to achieve reader engagement but Roald Dahl has been able to pull it off flawlessly.