What are the personality traits of Mary Maloney in "Lamb to the Slaughter"?

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The personality traits of Mary Maloney in "Lamb to the Slaughter" are meekness, passivity, self-effacement, extreme deviousness, and calculation.

On the face of it, it might seem that these characteristics don't sit well together. But as the story progresses, we find that all of them are indeed combined...

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The personality traits of Mary Maloney in "Lamb to the Slaughter" are meekness, passivity, self-effacement, extreme deviousness, and calculation.

On the face of it, it might seem that these characteristics don't sit well together. But as the story progresses, we find that all of them are indeed combined in one person.

When we first meet Mary, we see a mousy, timid housewife, a woman who wouldn't say boo to a goose. Subscribing as she does to traditional gender roles, Mary accepts being subordinate to her husband, to whom she is utterly devoted.

And this is how she would almost certainly have remained had her husband not told Mary that he was leaving her for (what we assume to be) another woman. But as it is, another set of character traits comes to the surface after Patrick drops the fatal bombshell. For once Mary has murdered Patrick by hitting him over the head with a frozen leg of lamb, we see a whole different side to her.

Now we see a devious woman able to cover her tracks and present herself to the investigating police officers as a grieving widow rather than the murderer that she is. In covering her tracks, Mary also shows herself to be cold and calculating, able to come up with a convincing alibi that will keep her out of the frame for the murder that she's just committed.

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