"Obsession can be very dangerous" How far is the statement true in relation to "The Landlady"? Detailed explanation+examples+quotes(if possible)

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M.P. Ossa, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The Landlady does suffer from a trauma that has led her to obsession. Her obsession is towards things that she detects on people which make them unique, like for example when she said that "Mr. Temple has such soft skin",  and she focuses on Billy's white teeth. She then wants to keep those special things to herself.

In her case, the reason behind that need for hoarding and embalming can be

a) The obsession with loneliness suffered after she lost her son

b) The obsession with company since she has no life partner

c) The obsession with perfection, and with beautiful things

d) The obsession with people, in general.

So, as Roald Dahl correctly assessed, it is indeed dangerous to allow obsession run your self control, or else you might go insane and end up a killer like the Landlady

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In the story "The Landlady" the twinkly-eyed housekeeper who lets out rooms to boarders turns out to be a psychopath who is a specialist in taxidermy. After luring them in, she poisons them with arsenic and then stuffs them much as museum specimens.

In "The Landlady" the housekeeper does not change throughout the story line; it is only the reader who gradually understands what she is "up to" and then watches helplessly on the sidelines as she reels in her next victim. If there is indeed a moral to this tale, it would be something like "When it comes to strangers, you can never be too careful" or "People are not necessarily what they appear to be."

 

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