What are some contrasts and comparisons between the short stories "Lamb to the Slaughter" and "The Possibility of Evil"?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator


1. Both stories are written by authors who focus on the hidden potential for evil or harm in everyone.  Dahl and Jackson seem to enjoy exploring the dark side of human nature.

2. Both stories feature women who appear to be harmless--Mary Maloney, a pregnant police officer's wife in "Lamb," and Miss Strangeworth, an old-time resident of a small town--but who take joy in outsmarting others.  Mary, once she has killed her husband, entertains his police officer friends as they investigate the murder and gleefully feeds them the murder weapon.  Miss Strangeworth plots her whole day around sending nasty notes to various members of the community, creating fear and spreading gossip. She takes pleasure in writing and sending the notes.


1. Mary Maloney does not get caught in "Lamb"; so there is no sense of justice in Dahl's story, unless one considers Patrick Maloney's fate warranted because of his plan to abandon his very pregnant wife. Miss Strangeworth does get "caught" by some of the town's teenagers, and not only to they let her know that they have discovered her cruel practice, but they also destroy what is dearest to her--her roses.

2. Mary seems to have just snapped when Patrick told her that he wanted a divorce.  Her murdering him and then covering it up were not premeditated incidents.  In contrast, Miss Strangeworth seems to have been sending her notes and tormenting her town for years.


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Lamb to the Slaughter

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