The question I have selected for my essay is number one and I will be discussing the presentation of gender and power explored in the short story, Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl. Also in my essay I will be explaining the roles played by the two main characters in the story Mary and Patrick Maloney. Mary Maloney is the main character in the story Lamb to the Slaughter. She is represented as a stereotypical housewife who adores her husband, Patrick Maloney, and is willing to go to any length to please him.
At the start of the text Mary seems to be a eak woman and the weaker person in her marriage. She lets her husband push her around and she doesn’t even realise he’s doing it, because she only ever wants to make happy. Patrick Maloney is the husband of Mary Maloney and the dominant one in their relationship.
In the text he is represented as a stereotypical ungrateful, grumpy husband. Also in the text the Maloney’s would be classified as an upper class family but even though this is so, Patrick Maloney still works full time as a Senior Policeman.
Another thing we notice about Mr. Maloney is he fact he seems quite bored of the fact he is waited on hand and foot by his wife. Power plays a major part in the story Lamb to the Slaughter. And in this story the power seems to reverse from one character to the other, as it starts of with all the power in the hands of Patrick Maloney.
Him being the Senior Police officer at work tells us that he must hold quite a lot of power of his work mates below him. But obviously the person he holds the most power over in the text is his wife, Mary Maloney; his hard working housewife who we find out is 6 months pregnant.
She is constantly fussing over Patrick wether it is cooking his dinner or getting his slippers. Another thing we notice is that Mr. Maloney is always the person who makes the decisions in their relationship. Wether it has very little or very much importance. For example what they were both going to have for dinner, it was always whatever Mr. Maloney felt like. However all of this power is reversed in the text when Mary comes back from getting the leg of lamb for her and her husband’s dinner. She spots Patrick standing in the corner of the oom and he says, “For god’s sake! Don’t make supper for me, I’m going out. ”
And that seems to set her off so she walks over and shows physical power as she hits her husband hard over the head with the leg of lamb, and the second he is dead a whole new power is left with her, it is the power Mr. Maloney had once held over her. Mary also seems to have power over the policeman, detectives and doctors who came to investigate the death of Mr. Maloney. They seem very sympathetic towards her and believe every word Mrs. Maloney says about the death of her usband.
After studying this short story it would be fair to say that Mr/Mrs Maloney do not have stereotypical or specific gender and power roles as they seem change their characters during the text. Mr. Maloney is explained by Mary at the start of the story as a loving husband and turned out to be ungrateful and unloving. And Mrs. Maloney starts off being a shy, warm, quite woman and ends up slaughtering her husband with a leg of lamb. To conclude my essay however, at different times in the text both characters hold more power then the other.