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Lamb to the Slaughter Essay

Drama and suspense, one of the most important things an author needs in their story to keep their audience entertained. Without these two elements in a story or movie, the audience would easily get bored. In order to build drama and suspense certain literary devices are required. In the short story, “Lamb to Slaughter”, the author Roald Dahl builds up this dramatic story by using imagery, irony, and strong character interaction, thus creating suspense and a bit of humor. One of the literary devices that were used to build drama and suspense is imagery.

A scene in the story that contributes to imagery was the one that involved Mary and Patrick in the beginning of the story. “… 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…” (154 Dahl). In this scene Dahl uses imagery to show Mary’s violent actions as she kills her husband. This occurred after Patrick gave Mary unpleasant news. This creates suspense and leaves the readers to question her next actions. Another device that was used to create suspense in the story was character interaction.

A scene that included character interaction was between Mary and the detectives towards the end of the story. “Why don’t you eat up that lamb that’s in the oven? ” (161 Dahl) The scene that this quote occurred in was when Mary was trying to convince them to eat the lamb leg that was used to kill her husband. Dahl interprets this scene into the story to illustrate Mary’s intentions which was to get rid of the evidence which creates suspense amongst the audience. Without this interaction, the scenario would change and the story would be less suspenseful.

Dahl also used irony to effectively create suspense and drama. A scene that displayed irony was the last scene in the story when the detectives were conversing while eating the lamb leg. “Personally, I think its right here on the premises. ” “Probably right under our noses. What you think Jack? ” (162 Dahl) In this conversation the detectives are talking about the weapon, which was used to kill Patrick, being on the premises not knowing that they are eating it. These quotes were also used to hint that Mary basically has gotten away with the crime.

This scene therefore, was very ironic which also made the story a bit comedic. In conclusion, the author successfully made this story very dramatic and suspenseful. He was able to effectively create suspense and drama because of his use of literary devices. This story continued to grab the reader’s attention all the way to the end which is an example of a good story. Dahl was able to interpret irony, imagery, and character interactions into his story thus making it appealing to the audience.


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