Character Analysis of Mary Maloney "Lamb to the Slaughter" p. 10 Sightlines

Characterization is an important component in short story writing. In the short story "Lamb to the Slaughter" written by Roald Dahl, we are introduced to Mary Maloney, a pregnant housewife who recently found out that her husband is going to leave her. Mary develops into a very complex character as the events of the short story unfold. Mary is a typical housewife, waiting on her husband hand and foot. She loves him dearly, but as the short story unfolds, we see that he does not share the same feelings. Mary, unable to handle the rejection, lashes out and kills her husband. We then see Maryís character transform before our eyes and the once loving, dutiful housewife becomes a very devious, manipulative and cold hearted character. She manages to fool everyone maybe even herself.

As the story unfolds, we see Many as a very cold hearted person as she kills her husband in the blink of an eye. After her husband has told her he plans to leave her and refuses to let her cook supper for him, Mary strikes out and hits him with a leg of lamb that she had planned to cook for supper. "At that point, Many Maloney simply walks up behind him and without any pause 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" (Dahl, p.13). Mary acts instinctively and hits her husband, stopping him from leaving her permanently.  Mary is definitely shows the cold hearted aspect of her character.

Mary is also a very devious  person in that she not only kills her husband in cold blood, but she then precedes to create an alibi for herself. She practices her speech in the mirror, and then goes to the grocery store where she is sure the grocer will remember her as a calm, loving wife. "She sat down before the mirror, tidied her hair, touched up her lips and face. She tried a smile. It came out rather peculiar. She tried again" (Dahl, p. 14). Mary was now thinking very clearly in that she knew she needed to cover her tracks.  These actions show that she was very clever and devious and was already thinking very clear in regard to the events that would follow.  

Mary is very manipulative in that she is able to create the character of the poor, pregnant wife, whose husband has just been murdered. She is able to convince the police to take pity on her, to mix her a drink and then to even eat the evidence, the leg of lamb that she has left in the oven. "Why donít you eat up that lamb that is in the oven" (Dahl, p. 17).  Mary realizes that if the police find the evidence she will go to jail.  Her quick thinking and manipulative character results in the police officers eathign the evidence and therefore she cannot be charged of this crime.   These actions show the complex character that Mary Maloney truly is.

Throughout the entire story, Mary is a very interesting character. She faces many issues in dealing with her husbandís news that he is leaving her. She reacts based on her instincts and kills her husband and this shows her cold heartedness. In the end she has to create an alibi to cover up her devious crime in which she has to manipulate the police into eating the evidence. Mary is a very unique complex character and she has, through her actions conducted a devious crime in which she will be proven innocent. Through the use of Many Maloneyís character, as well as irony and suspense, the author was able to maintained the interest of the reader throughout the entire short story.