I have a thesis for the short story "Lamb to the Slaughter" by Roald Dahl: In the story, Mary Maloney, a good wife, becomes a murderer because of her husband's betrayal. I don't know if it is good...

I have a thesis for the short story "Lamb to the Slaughter" by Roald Dahl: In the story, Mary Maloney, a good wife, becomes a murderer because of her husband's betrayal.

I don't know if it is good or bad. Could you give me your comment? Thanks!

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Rather than addressing the content of the story in the thesis, why not address the dark humor and irony in this story instead?

Perhaps, then, a thesis can address the fact that Dahl's story "Lamb to the Slaughter" puts an ironic twist on the not uncommon story of a man leaving his wife. Here are some points to consider--

  • The title exemplifies dark humor since a pun is made on the meaning of "lamb to the slaughter": (1) the usual meaning of this phrase is an innocent or unsuspecting person having harm come to him/her, and (2) there is an irony to the wife's using the leg of lamb as a murder weapon and then offering the cooked leg to the policemen as supper.
  • There is also irony in the turn of events in the narrative because Detective Maloney believes that he is going to leave his wife for a new life, but instead he is the one who gets left behind while it is his wife who goes on to the new life.
  • In another instance of irony--dramatic irony, in fact--the unsuspecting policemen, who have been searching for the murder weapon, unwittingly destroy the evidence as they consume the lamb offered to them as dinner.

"Personally, I think the weapon is somewhere near the house." "It's probably right under our noses. What do you think, Jack?"
And in the other room, Mary Maloney began to laugh.

Mrs. Maloney understands the dramatic irony of what the one policeman says as he suspects the murder weapon is "right under [their] noses." Indeed, it is; the leg of lamb is beneath their noses in their stomachs, and the bone of the leg is probably on the table. 

sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Your thesis is fine. I have no problems with it.  It makes a clear statement of opinion about the story.  Your thesis statement is also defensible based on the events of the story.  

I would like to recommend that the flow of your thesis statement be cleaned up a bit.  Your thesis makes the claim that Mary Maloney is a good wife who turns into a murderer.  I think you are right, and I like how it forces you, the writer, to focus on two aspects of Mary.  You will have to focus on her being a good wife and support that.  You will then have to focus on why she is a murderer (vs. a person who is guilty of manslaughter).  I think the flow of your thesis can be cleaned up some.  

Because your thesis focuses on two aspects of Mary, I recommend using a thesis statement that starts with the word "although."  Starting with that subordinating conjunction forces you into a two part statement.  "Although Mary Maloney is clearly a good wife, her husband's betrayal transforms her into a murderer."   It's still your thesis, just tightened up a bit. 

Read the study guide:
Lamb to the Slaughter

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question