English Literature- Lamb to the Slaughter

Lamb to the slaughter -Roald Dahl **************************************************************** By P. Baburaj, Senior Lecturer, Dept. of English, Sherubtse college, Bhutan Author of: Language and writing, DSB Publication Thimphu Communicative English, P. K. Books, Calicut A perception on Literary Criticism, P. K. Books, Calicut ****************************************************************** Black comedy/blackhumour -is concerned with the humorous treatment of the shocking, horrific and macabre. Black comedy is actually a form of drama which displays a marked disillusionment and cynicism.

It shows human beings without conviction with little hope, regulated by fate or fortune or comprehensible powers. In fact, human beings in an ‘absurd’ predicament at its darkest, such comedy is pervaded by a kind of sour despair; we can’t do anything. So we may as well laugh. The wit is mordant and the humor sardonic. Dramatic irony When the audience understands the implication and meaning of a situation on stage, or what is being said, but the characters do not. Example-Oedipus does not realize his crime. Sir Peter Tezel (in school for scandal) does not know his wife is behind the screen when he is talking about Joseph Surface.

Symbols. ? The ‘warm’ and ‘clean’ attic indicates the desire for normal domestic pattern. ? The ‘curtain drawn’- shows a calm atmosphere that foreshadowing of hidden subconscious desires that are yet to surface in the form of murderous action. ? Two lamps alight- point to Mary and Patrick. ? Fresh ice cubes in the thermos points to coldness and heat. Ice is cold and thermos brings heat to the mind. Contemporary story. ? Story tells of how a pregnant woman when faced with the certainty of her husband leaving her, takes control of her situation. ? Powerful woman protagonist -breaking away from the stereotypical role of a woman. Packed with suspense and humor. ? Fast-paced action. ? ? ? ? ? ? Third person omniscient narrative. Conventional and straight forward language. Role reversals- reversal of Mary’ the merry innocent docile wife to a cruel murderer Dramatic irony, A type of situational irony. A best example of a black comedy. . . Contrasting what a character perceives and what the audience and one or more of the characters know to be true. Revenge, deception and ethics are some of the issues that one could explore in this story. Theme- love- betrayal, revenge and deception. Mary Maloney a victim and a villain. A faithful, docile pregnant wife who gets cheated. Story of? Married and a romantic couple. ? Maloney’s unexplained decision to leave his wife….. ? Violation of the marriage law(deception) ? Mary’s killing of her husband and her ultimate deception ? ? ? ? ? ? Setting-Maloney’s drawing room -Entire room of the house. -Sam’s grocery shop (short scene). ? Lamb is a Biblical Symbol of innocence/ symbol of peace, but here a powerful weapon of murder. ? So lamb symbolizes here violence, death and revenge- topsy-turvy to its conventional biblical concept. By P. Baburaj, Senior Lecturer, Dept. of English, Sherubtse college, Bhutan *********************************

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