What was the motive for the murder in "Lamb to the Slaughter"?

1 Answer | Add Yours

billdelaney's profile pic

William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Mary Maloney kills her husband in a sudden burst of rage because he has told her he is going to leave her at a time when she is six months pregnant with their first child. She is a very loving, devoted, domestic wife and is understandably outraged at his betrayal. Her husband does not tell her that he is involved with another woman, but there seems to be a good possibility that such is the case, which would add jealousy to her motivation. She is an example of the old saying, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." This became a popular folk saying, but it was used originally by William Congreve (1670-1729) in his play The Mourning Bride:

Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned,
Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.

One of the most interesting things about Roald Dahl's story is seeing the mild-mannered, demure housewife suddenly and spontaneous turn into a murderess and then go on to save herself from punishment by concocting an alibi and destroying the murder weapon in an ingenious way.


We’ve answered 319,633 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question