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Which is scarier, The Invisible Man Or The Landlady?

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Introduction

Which is scarier, The Invisible Man Or The Landlady? Roald Dahl was born in Norway in 1916. His father died when he was young and his mother sent him to school in England. After his education in England, Dahl started to write short stories, for which he is now well known. H.G. Wells was born in Bromley, Kent in 1866. After working as a schoolteacher he won a scholarship to the Normal School of Science. He received a first class honours degree in biology and resumed teaching, but had to retire due to injury. He then experimented with journalism and stories. It was 'The Time Machine' that started Wells' career as an author. In both 'The Landlady' and 'The Invisible Man' the character of each title is a villain who is either already mad or who becomes mad. H.G. Wells wrote 'The Invisible Man' in 1897; it is about a fanatical scientist who makes himself invisible and uses his power to inflict a ' Reign of Terror' on the local community. 'The Landlady' was written by Dahl in 1959, about a seemingly kind old lady who has a hobby of taxidermy - and whose subjects include handsome young men who come to her house seeking lodgings. ...read more.

Middle

This is ironic, as her motives are far from kindly. He refuses to be put off by the landlady's odd behaviour. Dahl gives the reader lots of clues as to the landlady's true character, as when she appears too quickly in response to Weaver's ring: "This dame was like a jack-in-the-box" The use of this simile gives the reader a 'jumpy' feeling and adds to the gradually building tension. We are told that the landlady has "a round pink face and very gentle blue eyes", but these same blue eyes travel "slowly all the way down the length of Billy's body, to his feet, and then up again." This is creepy. She talks of her last young lodger in the past tense, but when questioned by Billy as to when he left, says "But my dear boy, he never left. He's still here. Mr Temple is also here. They're on the fourth floor, both of them together." This is alarming. Her excessively sweet manner contrasts strongly with her callous intention to kill and stuff Billy, as when she gives him "another gentle little smile" with his cyanide tea. The landlady's superficial respectability and kindliness, together with her calculating madness, make her a very frightening figure. ...read more.

Conclusion

Today's reader also lives in a time of rapid scientific advances, but the nature of current scientific discovery is different. This means that Well's tale is less relevant to the modern reader and so has less power to frighten him, although Griffin's descent into insanity still rings true. At the time "The Landlady" was written (1959), there were lots of post war Bed & Breakfasts all over the country, run by war-widowed women. At the same time there was an increase in the number of people travelling alone around the country on business, and they often had to stay in these boarding houses. This means that to someone of that era, (and of today but to a lesser extent) this could very well be a true story. This makes the book much more frightening as the events that occur in it could be possible. Today there is still a mobile work force although there are less boarding houses than when the book was written. However, there still are lots of young men travelling the country and many of them would be attracted to a B & B like this one because of its low prices. ...read more.

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