Roald Dahl’s Lamb to the Slaughter is the story of a loyal’s wife reaction to her husband’s betrayal, using the rhetorical devices of dramatic irony, dark humor and foreshadowing. Throughout, the story you follow an abnormal day in Mary Maloney very wonted life. She makes the day abnormal by murdering her husband and shrewdly covers it up, without leaving a trace of evidence. The first rhetorical device encountered is foreshadowing, and foreshadowing is when the author suggests certain plot developments that will come later in the story. Dahl achieved this by writing “as he spoke, he did an unusual thing. He lifted his glass and drained it in one swallow although there was still half of it…He got up and went slowly over to fetch himself another…When he came back, she noticed that the new drink was dark amber with the quantity of whiskey in it.” This behavior is unusual for Patrick and could possibly be hinting how he was getting ready to tell some bad news. His wife who knows him very well also noted that something was different about Patrick actions. Foreshadowing is continued when “ She stood up and put placed her sewing on the table by the lamp.
“Sit down,” he said. “Just for a minute, sit down.” It wasn’t until then that she began to get frightened.” Her emotions and his actions lead to believe something bad is going to happen. Black humor which is the use of the grotesque, morbid, or absurd for darkly comic purposes is also acknowledged. Dahl acknowledges black humor when the grocer asks Mary “then, how about meat, Mrs Maloney?” and when she answers “No, I’ve got meat, thanks. I got a nice leg of lamb from the freezer. ” It’s twisted humour because she said “a nice leg of lamb” just after killing her husband with it. Also, when she gets back home and she calls “Patrick!
How are you, darling?” It’s funny because she calls him knowing he is dead. Another moment of dark humour as well as dramatic irony is when one of the policemen says “Personally, I think the weapon is somewhere near the house.” “It’s probably right under our noses. What do you think, Jack?” And in the other room, Mary Maloney began to laugh. In addition, irony can also be noted and it really creates the sinister tone for the story. Since Mary Maloney came off as the sweet and caring wife, but she changes that perception when she “…simply walked up behind him and without any pause, she swung the big frozen leg of lamb high in the air and brought it down as hard as she could on the back of his head.” This is a huge twist because you wouldn’t expect this sweet little lady to be capable of such a tragic crime.