Analytical essay on Roald Dahl's 'The Landlady'.

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Christina Sophonpanich 9L        Analytical essay on Roald Dahl’s ‘The Landlady’        Page  of

Christina Sophonpanich 9L                                                                                             16th September 2003

Analytical essay on Roald Dahl’s ‘The Landlady’

During our past few lessons of English, we have read the story ‘The Landlady’ By Roald Dahl. A short, unusual and exciting story, it is about a seventeen-year-old handsome boy called Billy Weaver, who has been sent to Bath by his boss. It is his first time in Bath, and he is completely unfamiliar with the whole place. As he wonders about the dark, empty streets of Bath, looking for a pub to stay in, he is captivated by a very pleasant looking boarding house. Peering into the window, he sees animals sleeping in the cozy room and is compelled to ring the doorbell, even though he would rather stay at a pub, and allows himself to be persuaded to stay by a sweet, gentle-looking old woman who seems quite mad but harmless. The woman is so incredibly eager for Billy to stay, and keeps hinting about how she already knew he was coming and how everything was ready for him. Billy dismisses this as nothing but kindness, and reassures himself several times that the boarding house was fine and that the woman had probably just lost a son in war and never quite got over it. When he signs the guest book, he notices that there are only two other entries, and the last one was made over two years ago. Surprised and suspicious, he begins questioning the older woman about the two men, whose names Billy recognizes. As he tries to pinpoint where he’s heard of them, the woman constantly tries to change the subject and is ever so insistent on him drinking his tea. The woman reveals personal information about the last two boarders that alarms Billy, and he begins to realize a few things, like how the pets are stuffed, the woman is a fanatic taxidermist, how she smells of hospital corridors and how the tea tastes of bitter almonds, the same taste as arsenic…

The Story ends abruptly when the woman confirms Billy’s suspicions that he has been the only boarder over the last few years, leaving the reader to work out that obvious and inevitable end awaiting the poor Billy.

In this essay, I will explore the narrative structure including ideas of converting the story/details, why Roald Dahl chose to write things in a certain way, include details one might, at first thought, find unnecessary, disclose information and his effectiveness of the exposition, structure, important features of the story and its unusual ending.

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Exploring the opening of the story, one realizes how important the details are. Of course, the story could have started as Billy rang the doorbell of the boarding house, instead of having two pages of exposition and description, however, after reading the whole story, one realizes that the exposition was necessary.

To start off with, Roald Dahl describes the weather as “The air was deadly cold, and the wind was like a flat blade of ice on his cheeks”, which immediately, in the opening paragraph, creates tension and a sense of foreboding in the reader, who now expects ...

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