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Justifiable Vengeance Essay


‘Lamb to the Slaughter’ and ‘Mother Savage’ are two short stories depicting Vengeance as expressed in the perceptions of the writers; Roald Dahl and Guy De Maupassant respectively. Both stories reflect aspects of human cruelty, perversity, and violence displayed by female characters. Lamb to the Slaughter published in 1953, tells the story of Mary Maloney, who deliberately clubs her detective husband Patrick to death, after he had revealed to her his plan to abandon her.

‘Mother Savage’ on the other hand, tells the story of a widowed woman who is driven by her son’s death in war to kill four Prussian soldiers she had been quartering. To express the character of the woman, Guy observes her to be “made of a stuff similar to that of the men from the country side- a hardy old” (12).This paper offers a brief analysis of appeal of logos as expressed in Dahl’s ‘Lamb to the Slaughter.’

A perfect appeal of logos in Roald Dahl’s ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’ is well expressed by Mary Maloney in her persuasive way to stay out of guilty. Having killed her husband, Mrs. Maloney takes her time to rehearse several times in front of her bedroom mirror on how to come up with a smart impression that will never raise any doubts about what she had just done.

This is before she went out to pick some items from the grocery, to create an alibi by making the grocery owner believe that everything was fine. “Patrick’s said he’s a bit exhausted and doesn’t want to go out tonight, and he’s caught me having no vegetables tonight” (Dahl 5). In all this while, Mrs. Maloney appeared normal and her unusual happiness would not pass as a gesture of suspicion to Sam.

The power of reasoning applied in this setting is finally seen when the detectives investigating her husband’s death approach the grocer for questioning. Coming out clear from the observation of the grocer, “The lady had acted normal and a bit cheerful and there was no doubt that she was going to give her husband a wonderful supper” (Dahl 16).

This assurance by the grocer had removed any doubts which the detectives would be having about Mrs. Maloney. Through this intelligent logical approach, Mary Maloney succeeds in confusing the detectives’ further attempts to establish the circumstances leading to the death of Mr. Maloney (Rich A23). In real sense, she is the killer of her husband but no one could think of her that way.

This setting however, is certain to raise serious arguments. It raises much controversy just how the appeal of logos is expressed in the story. The style is made to create a big fuss on the work of the detectives whose combined effort does not seem to come anywhere near the truth. The detectives are searching the killer from outside while in real sense, she is there with them and there is no way they could have suspected it.

Another thing, the appeal of logos in this setting was well crafted but it failed to meet the requirements of high reasoning from the side of the detectives and there was no way this would convince the readers about its intended meaning. The writer has made the detectives to appear sympathetic with Mrs. Maloney, just the same way he makes readers to feel and this underestimates the role of detectives in the society.

Even though they have manifested great expertise in their work so far, they have failed in their obligation completely. The truth of the matter here is that, the detectives had been caught in the charm of the woman who seemed to manipulate them the way she liked. The appeal of logos has been exaggerated a bit by making the woman more elusive in her persuasions. For instance, as we all know, it is not easy for investigative officers to accept food or incentives from their suspects, but in this case, it would happen.

After a little convincing from Mrs. Maloney, the detectives were happily feasting on the same Lamb’s leg that was used to club Patrick thus spoiling the only possible piece of evidence that could have led them to the truth. As a result of this, Maloney is convinced that there is no way her secrets will ever be discovered. Another outstanding failure in the way logos apply in the story is that, they have been carried up to the end and this makes the story lack of the most significant component of stories; the resolution.

Taking the view of Dahl’s ‘Lamb to the Slaughter,’ the killing of Patrick’s is a first degree murder. As the killer would perceive it, this was indeed the best way to satisfy her hopeless feelings.

According to Bentham, “humans would be guided by the desire to achieve peace and happiness by carrying out revenge” and there is no any doubt that Mrs. Maloney had planned for the death of her husband since the moment he revealed to her about his plans to abandon her (36). Considering her expectant status, this would be the worst news she would expect to hear from her partner in life.

That same evening, she clubbed her husband to death and she seemed satisfied in the mischievous action. To the nature of things, she’d better kill her husband rather than facing the humiliating feeling of losing him to the outside world, and probably to another woman. Mrs. Maloney was primarily motivated by the surging urge of recovering her peace normal by doing something that would avert her suffering. However, was innocent and his punishment in this brutal manner was not justified and he didn’t deserve it in the first place.

Works Cited

Bentham, Jeremy. An introduction to the principles of morals and legislation. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. Print.

Dahl, Roald. Lamb to the Slaughter. New York: Penguin Books, 1995. Print.

Guy, Maupassant. Old Mother Savage: a tale of the Franco-Prussian War. New York: Frail Sister Comics, 2008. Print.

Rich, Ferdinand. “Lamb to the slaughter.” The New York Times 12. 13 (1997): A23. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2018, October 22). Justifiable Vengeance. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/justifiable-vengeance/

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"Justifiable Vengeance." IvyPanda, 22 Oct. 2018, ivypanda.com/essays/justifiable-vengeance/.

1. IvyPanda. "Justifiable Vengeance." October 22, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/justifiable-vengeance/.


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IvyPanda. "Justifiable Vengeance." October 22, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/justifiable-vengeance/.

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IvyPanda. 2018. "Justifiable Vengeance." October 22, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/justifiable-vengeance/.

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IvyPanda. (2018) 'Justifiable Vengeance'. 22 October.

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