Character of Mary Maloney In “Lamb to the Slaughter”
Mary Maloney is the protagonist of Roald Dahl’s short story, “Lamb to the Slaughter”. She is introduced as a typical middle class housewife who is six months pregnant and is devoted to her husband, Patrick Maloney. She is described as beautiful woman, with soft skin and lips, and dark and large eyes. She is the docile wife who eagerly waits for her husband to get back from work. She loved him dearly and cared for all his needs. When Patrick came home, she was very excited to see him. She offered him a drink and insisted she’d get things he needed so he didn’t have to get up. She was also well acquainted with her husband’s daily routine and adjusted herself accordingly. She was a good observer because she got to know that her husband had been acting strangely from the sound of the ice cubes falling back against the bottom of his glass, without even looking at him she sensed it that he had drained his drink.
She was quite understanding as a wife for when she found her husband acting strangely, she knew he must be tired. It had been pre-decided for them to dine out, but she was ready to make a compromise and prepare dinner at home. When Mary learnt that Patrick had decided to abandon her, a complete transformation is seen in her character. A lady who initially appeared submissive and docile, could not handle the unexpected rejection from her husband whom she loved dearly. She goes into a state of shock and couldn’t believe her ears. She still continued to do her duties, and set about preparing dinner for him. However, when Patrick finally refused to have any of her services, she was overcome by anger which lead her to murder her husband using a frozen lamb leg. She immediately proceeded to create an alibi for herself. She went to the market and made conversation with the grocer, which she had practiced several times beforehand. When the grocer asked her, “Then how about meat, Mrs. Maloney?” she replied “No I’ve got meat, thanks.” Here Mary was referring to meat as the dead body of her husband, this shows dark humor.
Later she walked out of the store, on her way she prepared herself to act natural and be her normal self. This shows how devious she was. She was extremely manipulative and was able to convince the police that she was a poor, pregnant wife whose husband has just been murdered. They took pity on her, and made her a drink on her request. She cunningly destroyed the evidence by persuading the officers to have the supper by saying that, “I know Patrick would never forgive me. God bless his soul, if I allowed you to remain in his house without offering decent hospitality. Why don’t you eat up the lamb that’s in the oven. It will be cooked just by now.” The officers unknowing were feeding on the evidence and Mary was successful in destroying it.
The author tells us that, “there was a slow smiling air about her, and about everything she did.” This smile turned into a giggle in the hour of her triumph.
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