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How did Roald Dahl create atmosphere and tension in the story Lamb to the Slaughter?

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Introduction

Lamb to the Slaughter How did Roald Dahl create atmosphere and tension in the story Lamb to the Slaughter? Lamb to the slaughter is a short story written by Roald Dahl. He is most famous for writing children's stories. This is a short story about contradicting feelings. Initially we have a woman waiting for her husband to return home from work, she is waiting, content in her warm and cosy chair, the house is "warm and clean, the curtains drawn and the two table lamps alight" an atmosphere of a nice home, an ideal one for Mr Maloney to come home to. Right from the beginning of the story, a warm and cosy atmosphere is created. She is safe in the knowledge that her husband will be arriving home soon, "Now again she would glance up at the clock, but without anxiety, merely to please her with the thought that each minute gone by made it nearer the time when he would arrive". ...read more.

Middle

He is acting out of the ordinary, this immediately changes the atmosphere and creates tension because, she is keeping to the same routine, greeting him at the door, taking his coat, pouring him a drink, but he is doing things out of the ordinary. This makes us think that there is something going on, something that Mr Maloney knows but is not telling Mrs Maloney, this builds tension. She is happy sitting there in her chair in the presence of her loved one. "She loved to luxuriate in the presence of this man, and to feel almost as a sunbather feels the sun, the warm male glow that came out of him to her when they were alone together". They are contrasting each other; she is sitting in her comfortable chair sewing. He is draining his glasses of stronger than usual whiskey this creates a new atmosphere, up to now everything has been routine but now Mr Maloney begins to act out of the ordinary Mrs Maloney tries to get to the bottom of it. ...read more.

Conclusion

When she arrives back home the corpse of her husband greets her, she rushes over to him and begins to cry uncontrollably as "the old feelings for him return to her". We now feel an atmosphere of love and longing rush through us; we feel the loss that she has suffered, twice. She phones for the police claiming that someone had murdered her husband. As we know her husband was a policeman, the man on the other side is shocked and says that a police car will be around in a minute. She now puts the leg of lamb into the oven to get rid of the evidence, when the policemen arrive; they assess the situation and try to calm down the woman. Once everything has been cleared away the woman, Mrs Maloney offers the policemen the leg of lamb. The story ends with Mrs Maloney giggling to herself in the living room as the policemen clear off all the evidence, an atmosphere in created as though there has been an adventure and everything has returned to what it was like at the beginning of the story. ...read more.

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