Gender representations and Lamb to the Slaughter

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Mary Maloney plays the part of a sweet and innocent wife in the short story of Lamb to the Slaughter however she does not hold this role of the perfect little housewife for very long, for she murders her husband using the frozen leg of a lamb. In the large majority of short stories male characters are structured as domineering over the females who are shown to be submissive, though this does not ring entirely true when referring to the short story Lamb to the Slaughter. The stereotypical type portrayed in this story is generally not reflected in the men and women in today’s society.

Mary Maloney starts off as a perfect example of how females are portrayed as submissive in texts, however; something happens that makes her seem to snap. It could be the cause of all the pent up anger over the years she’s been married and undermined as an individual due to her gender. In the world that she lived in, there was no way of allowing her to release her frustration, for it was not considered proper to do so and she would be beaten or shunted from society if she had done.

Another cause of this violence could be the fact that the writer skims over the point where Patrick Maloney tells her about why he is leaving her and the unborn child. For, it is written “And he told her. It didn’t take long, four or five minutes at most, and she sat very still through it all, watching him with a kind of dazed horror”, it automatically makes the reader assume the worst, that is that Patrick is cheating on Mary and seeing another woman whom he has grown to like more. Before the moment where he tells her this, Mary is trying to discuss his unusual late nights at work in the police force. This encourages the idea that Patrick Maloney has not actually been forced to work later into the night but has actually been seeing another woman or women. It is my belief that with all of these factors crashing down upon her, the moment Patrick informed her he was going out, Mary simply snapped and without thinking about what she was doing or the consequences involved, she killed her husband Patrick Maloney.

Lamb to the Slaughter portrays the female as a submissive character, which is generally unlike the real world today where females are at equal ranking with males and speak their minds when they wish. For it has long been debated about who is the superior sex! We have just recently realised that it is not necessary for a woman to stay at home and do the house work while the men go out and work. Woman are just as capable to obtain and handle roles of power as the men in our society and sometimes even better than most, however jobs that require physical labor are more suited to men for they have a greater physical capacity to deal with this. Therefore; when comparing this to the principles within the short story “Lamb to the Slaughter” there is a specific difference in the attitudes and values that are held by the men and women. Even though Mary Maloney does not hold to this role for long she is still maintains those values, as she falls back into her role of submissiveness after the murder of Patrick Maloney.

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When relating to” Lamb to the Slaughter” and its portrayal of males and females and their domination over one another, it does not, as I see it reflect the real world today. We are as a majority of people, equal and do not try and dominate either sex in such an extreme manner that is portrayed within this short story.



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