The protagonist Mary Maloney in Roald Dahl’s short story “Lamb to the Slaughter” at first seems to be a stereotypical 1950s wife: faithful, obedient, and happily fulfilling the expected role of a domestic female.
Dahl uses both direct and indirect characterization to show readers that Mary is more complex than that. Direct characterization includes concrete, straightforward details about a character as well as what the author tells readers to think about a character. For example, direct characterization of Mary includes her physical details (she’s six months pregnant and has glowing skin and large, dark eyes) as well as internal details, like “She loved to luxuriate in the presence of this man... she loved him... she loved the intent, far look in his eyes when they rested in her.” Dahl essentially tells readers that she is an entranced wife under the spell of her husband with no agency of her own.
Indirect characterization is what the author reveals about the character through the...
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