What are themes of the short story "The Landlady" by Roald Dahl?
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I think one of the most obvious themes is that of appearances versus reality. It is interesting that the landlady is, at first at least, remarkably hospitable towards Billy. She treats him very generously and gives him his own floor for his own, and likewise charges him a minimal rent. Clearly Billy is taken in by this "kindness" which causes him to ignore the various signs that something sinister is going on here. Of course, it is all to easy to be taken in by a nice old lady who seems to be living by herself, when actually something much more sinister is happening. The fact that the tea tastes of bitter almonds indicates what is really going on, for the taste of bitter almonds is an indication that cyanide has been placed in the tea.
A clear theme in "The Landlady" is deception and and the naivety of Billy Weaver. The Landlady herself decieves Billy by convincing him of her kind nature and offering such reasonable and humble accomadation. As the story continues, the act slowly fades away, and the reader notices that Billy is beginning to become suspicious. The constant offer of tea and the curious case of the previous residents baffles the reader and raises the tension. Finally, the story ends in a thrilling fashion, whilst also leaving enough information untold to allow the reader to imagine they're own ending for poor Billy...
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