The Irony Throughout the Story in Lamb to the Slaughter, a Short Story by Roald Dahl

April 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

Irony in “Lamb to the Slaughter”

In the short story “Lamb to the Slaughter” by Roald Dahl, irony is shown blatantly throughout the story, and most don’t even notice it. For example, when her husband comes home from work every day, Mary Maloney is a very kind and loving wife. She kisses him as he walks through the door, she takes his coat, and even makes him a drink when he sits in his chair. However, after being told about a proposed break-up, she grabs a frozen leg of lamb and “walks up behind her husband and without any pause she swings the big frozen leg of lamb high in the air and brings it down as hard as she can on the back of his head.” (3) This shows an example of situational irony, as it has to do with an event happening that is the opposite of what is expected. The audience would typically think that, after an experience like that, would just cry or ask for the reason behind the break-up. Obviously, that is not what happens, as we find out that she murders her husband. After she calls the police about her husband’s death, Mary is being very clever, and acts as if she has no idea of what killed her husband.

Later, Mrs. Maloney even “begs the police to eat the leg of lamb saying, ‘It’d be a favor to me if you’d eat it up.’” (2) This shows an example of dramatic irony, as the audience knows that the lamb was murder weapon, but the characters don’t. The policemen think that she wants them to eat it because nobody else will eat it, but she really just wants them to eat it so that they will never be able to find the murder weapon. These are just two examples of irony that are easily found in the story, but there are many more that are not hard to find.

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