illustrated tablesetting with a plate containing a large lamb-leg roast resting on a puddle of blood

Lamb to the Slaughter

by Roald Dahl

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What are some literary devices in "Lamb to the Slaughter"?

In the short story "Lamb to the Slaughter," the author makes use of literary devices such as irony, point of view, and simile to enhance the reader's understanding of the main character and to allow the reader to experience the story in a compelling way.

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The story "Lamb to the Slaughter" is filled with many literary devices. Two of these devices involve the element of irony. One type of irony seen in the story is situational irony, and another type is dramatic irony. The author also uses the literary device of limited third-person point of view to allow the reader to more deeply understand the main character. In addition, the author uses simile to help the reader better understand the main character's feelings and to enhance the reader's understanding of events in the story.

The use of irony is perhaps the most dominant literary element in the story. One type of irony in the story is situational irony. Situational irony is when the reader expects one thing but something unexpected happens instead. For instance, the story begins with a lengthy description of how much Mary loves her husband. She excitedly anticipates his arrival home, describing their first moments together after he returns from work as a "blissful time of day." The story goes on to relay all the different things Mary adores about her husband. For example, it states that "she loved to luxuriate in the presence of this man." This is why the reader is shocked when Mary unexpectedly bludgeons her husband with a frozen piece of lamb.

Another instance of irony seen in the story is dramatic irony. This irony is when the reader knows something other characters in the story do not. For example, the reader knows that Mary killed her husband, but the detectives that visit her house are unaware of Mary's crime.

The author also uses the literary device of limited third-person point of view to allow the reader to see the story mainly from the thoughts of only one character. In this case, the reader's understanding is limited to the inner thoughts of Mary.

The author uses simile in the story. Simile is when an author makes a comparison between two things using the words like or as. This is seen in two instances in the story. For example, when Mary's husband is around, his presence fills her with happiness. This happiness is described as a feeling of intense pleasure "almost as a sunbather feels" when experiencing the warm and comforting heat of the sun. Another instance of the use of simile is when the detective says that the blow to Mary's husband's skull is "just like from a sledgehammer."

Through the use of these literary devices, the author makes the story an exciting read, one that is both entertaining and memorable.

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