What are some contrasts and comparisons between the short stories "The Landlady" and "Lamb of the Slaughter?"

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parkerlee | Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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Both stories deal with the idea of "the perfect crime" committed by a woman. But whereas Mrs Maloney's act of striking her husband dead is not premeditated, the twinkle-eyed middle-aged landlady had done same thing twice before and is "at it" again. She is definitely "off her rocker" in a Norman Bates kind of way (as in "Psycho") whereas Mrs Maloney just seems to have momentarily lost control. However, Mrs Maloney giggles while the policemen are discussing the eventual murder weapon "right under their noses,"revealing the perverse side to her personality. She also keeps her cool directly after the murder, going to the store and getting things for supper, even a desert,  "to please" Patrick (and to offer herself an alibi). Her deliberation and calculation are somehow incoherent with her sentimental and romantic nature. This paradox adds to the complexity and "scariness" of the character.

Roald Dahl wrote a third story using the same idea of the female criminal committing the perfect crime. In "The Way Up to Heaven" Mrs Foster, the perfectly servile housewife driven to distraction, takes advantage of the circumstances of only a few seconds to settle accounts with her husband once and for all. A "must" if you have enjoyed these first two tales.

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