Lamb of The Slaughter': Mary Maloney Character Analysis

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About this sample


Words: 641 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Mar 5, 2024

Words: 641|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Mar 5, 2024

"Lamb to the Slaughter" is a captivating short story by Roald Dahl that delves into the unexpected transformation of the protagonist, Mary Maloney. The story revolves around Mary, a seemingly devoted housewife, who takes drastic actions after her husband announces his intention to leave her. This essay will focus on a character analysis of Mary Maloney, examining her psychological state, motivations, and the implications of her actions.

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Mary Maloney is initially portrayed as a dutiful and caring wife, as evidenced by her actions and demeanor towards her husband, Patrick Maloney. She is described as a loving and attentive spouse, who eagerly awaits her husband's return from work each day. However, her world is shattered when Patrick reveals his plan to leave her, sending Mary into a state of shock and disbelief.

The sudden revelation triggers a series of events that showcase Mary's complex character. Despite her initial shock, Mary's reaction to Patrick's news is not one of despair or grief, but rather of calculated decisiveness. She reaches for a frozen leg of lamb and uses it as a weapon to bludgeon Patrick to death. This drastic and violent act highlights Mary's capacity for deception and manipulation, as she proceeds to cover up her crime by disposing of the murder weapon and concocting an alibi.

Mary's actions raise questions about her psychological state and motivations. Some may argue that Mary's response to Patrick's betrayal is a result of temporary insanity or a deep-seated emotional trauma. However, a closer analysis reveals a more nuanced portrayal of Mary as a cunning and resourceful individual who is capable of adapting to challenging situations. Her ability to think quickly on her feet and execute a plan with precision suggests a level of intelligence and cunning that is often underestimated.

Furthermore, Mary's actions can also be seen as a commentary on the limitations and constraints placed on women in patriarchal societies. Her decision to resort to violence and deception can be interpreted as a desperate attempt to assert control and agency in a situation where she is traditionally expected to be submissive and obedient. By taking matters into her own hands, Mary challenges traditional gender roles and expectations, highlighting the complexities of power dynamics within relationships.

Mary Maloney's character is further developed through her interactions with the investigating officers who arrive at her home following Patrick's murder. Despite committing a heinous crime, Mary manages to maintain her composure and innocence throughout the investigation. She offers the officers drinks and food, all the while concealing the true nature of her actions. This displays Mary's ability to manipulate those around her, showcasing her cunning nature and quick thinking in high-pressure situations.

Additionally, the author's description of Mary's physical appearance and demeanor adds another layer to her character analysis. Dahl portrays Mary as a soft-spoken, gentle woman who appears harmless and unassuming to those around her. This sharp contrast between her outward appearance and inner thoughts and actions highlights the complexities of her character and the depths of her deception.

Furthermore, Mary's decision to serve the leg of lamb that she used to kill Patrick to the investigating officers as a means of disposing of the murder weapon is a testament to her resourcefulness and ability to think on her feet. This calculated move not only helps to divert suspicion away from her but also showcases her ability to manipulate others to achieve her desired outcome.

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In conclusion, Mary Maloney's character in "Lamb to the Slaughter" is a multi-dimensional and intriguing figure whose actions challenge traditional gender roles and expectations. Through a closer analysis of her psychological state, motivations, and actions, readers are able to unravel the complexities of her character and gain insights into the themes of power, agency, and deception. Roald Dahl masterfully crafts a character who defies expectations and invites readers to delve deeper into the complexities of human nature and societal norms.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Lamb of the Slaughter’: Mary Maloney Character Analysis. (2024, March 05). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 17, 2024, from
“Lamb of the Slaughter’: Mary Maloney Character Analysis.” GradesFixer, 05 Mar. 2024,
Lamb of the Slaughter’: Mary Maloney Character Analysis. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 17 Jul. 2024].
Lamb of the Slaughter’: Mary Maloney Character Analysis [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 05 [cited 2024 Jul 17]. Available from:
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