Comparison and Contrast of “Lamb to the Slaughter”

Usually videos and movies do a terrible job of accurately portraying the text but that is not the case here. The story “Lamb to the Slaughter” by Roald Dahl uses the theme of betrayal, the story is about a pregnant woman who after receiving some bad news from her husband goes into shock and beats her husband to death with a frozen lamb leg, and then when the detectives arrive they unknowingly end up eating the murder weapon, therefore, allowing the woman to get away with murdering her husband. The text and video “Lamb to the Slaughter” are very similar in their characters, and plot, however, they have one major difference that being the tone that they use.

First of all the characters for both the text and the video are very similar. Mary Maloney, the wife, and murderer of Patrick Maloney, is described in the text, “her skin -for this was her sixth month with child-had acquired a wonderful translucent quality, the mouth was soft, and the eyes, with their new placid look, seemed larger and darker than before” (Dahl 9) and the video depicts Mrs.Maloney as a blond pregnant woman with big brown eyes. As far as personality goes in both the text and video Mrs.Maloney is very smart and VERY devoted to making sure that her husband is comfortable, an example of this unwavering devotion would be when Mr.Maloney keeps trying to tell Mrs.Maloney that he doesn’t wasn’t anything to eat and is trying to get her to just sit down and Mrs.Maloney responds “but you must eat! I’ll fix it anyway, and then you can have it or not, as you like” (Dahl 59). The text also describes that Mr.Maloney is a masculine and fair man with an oddly shaped mouth, the video’s description isn’t very far from this, the video makes Mr.Maloney out as a somewhat thin man with blond hair and a weird smile.

Also the text and the video both make Mr.Maloney out to be very ungrateful, but the video takes this personality description one step further by having Mr. Maloney come out and say that he has been cheating on his wife. The character’s description is very important because it makes the story believable, if the video or the text had described Mr.Maloney as a giant with a superhero build then it would have been very hard for the audience to imagine that the smaller Mrs. Maloney could have killed him with one swing of a frozen lamb leg, and at the same time the text and the video must have the same character descriptions so that it is easier for the audience to follow and they don’t have to wonder who is who. Then the character’s personalities are also important for both the text and the video because it makes the story easier for the readers to understand because by having Mrs.Maloney be so devoted to her husband then to hear her husband’s news of cheating would have been so devastating for her to hear that it makes sense why she reacted the way that she did.

Secondly the text and the video have a similar plot. In the text Mrs. Maloney relieves some bad news from her husband then she goes into shock and kills her husband, Mr. Maloney, with a frozen lamb leg and then goes to the store to buy food and create an alibi then she cooks the lamb leg and serves it to the detectives who are investigating her husband’s murder, therefore, disposing the murder weapon and allowing herself to get away with murder. The video has a similar plot only a few of the events are reversed, it opens with Mr. Maloney already dead and Mrs. Maloney reporting the murder then while the detectives are investigating Mrs.Maloney has a flashback of what lead up to the murder.

Unlike the text the video actually elaborated on what Mr.Maloney had said to send Mrs. Maloney into shock, this is important to the video because it provides contexts for why Mrs. Maloney would kill her beloved husband without the need for a narrator and the video couldn’t just cut out the scene with them talking they had to make up something for Mrs.Maloney to react to, but this scene isn’t necessarily important for the text because the text can just use a narrator to say that Mr.Malone gave her some horrible news and describe Mrs.Maloney’s reaction.

Lastly the major difference between the text and the video is the tone. The tone of the text was more of hysteria and shock, The text sets this mood after Mary receives some bad news from her husband and says “She couldn’t feel anything at all- except a slight nausea and a desire to vomit”(Dahl 90) and Mrs.Maloney didn’t snap out of this overwhelming shock until she finally killed her husband. The tone of the video was more of “who done it?” this tone is used so often by criminal and detective movies that it causes the audience to lose interest. This tone also causes the character’s emotional reactions to have less meaning and it makes it harder for the audience to relate to the characters, and it is so important to have strong emotional reactions from the characters because it puts the audience in the character’s shoes and with each high-intensity emotional reaction the audience is on their toes wanting to read/watch more. The video sets this tone through its changes in the sequence of events, by showing the murder first then having and investigation as the bulk of the story and then learning what happened.

In conclusion the video and the text for “Lamb to the Slaughter” are pretty similar in the way of the characters and plot, but they have a major difference being the tone which is very important to keep the audience interested in the story.

Work cited

  1. Dahl,R., 1953. Lamb to the Slaughter. [online] Available at: [accessed 19 April 2020].