Contrasting her punishment for murder. “As the

Contrasting symbols are an interesting and powerful tool. When used correctly, they can show complex character traits through irony. An example of this is shown in Rode Dahl’s short story, Lamb to the Slaughter, in which a woman must try to form an alibi after murdering her husband. Mary Maloney, shown to be a loving and demure housewife, is able to craft a convincing story, thus dissociating from the murder. Lamb to the Slaughter uses various forms of irony to show Mary Maloney as a complex character. This includes using symbols as the opposite of what they stand for, and characters being oblivious to the threats right under their noses.Situational irony is when something happens that is the opposite of what was expected, and it is used multiple times throughout the story. An example is when “Mary Maloney simply walked up behind her husband 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.” (320). This would be considered situational irony because a lamb is a biblical symbol of gentleness and innocence, and Mary Maloney uses it as a murder weapon. This translates to Mary Maloney’s character as a housewife, someone who is supposed to represent a peaceful home environment. Both Mary and the lamb represent something soft and loving, yet they were brought together to be used in a violent situation. Another example of situational irony would be when Mary realizes her punishment for murder. “As the wife of a detective, she knew quite well what the penalty would be.” (320). Her husband was a detective, someone who attempted to solve murder cases as a career. This is interesting because, like mentioned previously, a housewife is supposed to represent a loving and peaceful environment. A man goes home from a long day of solving murder cases, only to become one himself. This could also provide insight into Mary’s character; seeing as how one of her first actions was to kill her husband, it is quite plausible that she has become desensitized to murder.Verbal irony is when somebody says something, but they mean something different. It is used a few times throughout the story, such as when Mary says, “‘No, I’ve got meat, thanks. I got a nice leg of lamb, from the freezer’…’I don’t much like cooking it frozen, Sam, but I’m taking a chance on it this time. You think it’ll be alright?'” (320). When Mary refers to the lamb, Sam assumes she is planning a pleasant dinner. However, Mary is actually discussing how to dispose of the weapon she used to kill her husband. Another example is when Mary offers the leg of lamb to the police investigating her husband’s murder. “‘Please,’ she begged. ‘Please eat it. Personally I couldn’t touch a thing, certainly not what’s been in the house when he was here. But it’s all right for you. It’d be a favor to me if you’d eat it up. Then you can go on with your work again afterwards.” (324). The police believe she is offering them a nice meal, when in fact she is attempting to destroy the very weapon they’re looking for.Dramatic irony is when the reader knows something that the characters do not, and is used quite often throughout the story. An example is when Mary “…fell right into Jack Noonan’s arms, weeping hysterically. He put her gently in a chair‚Ķ” (321). The character Jack Noonan believes he is comforting the unfortunately widowed Mary, unaware that she is the one who killed her husband. Mary is able to play the heartbroken housewife very easily; she truly did love her husband. This makes her murder of him a more interesting tale. A second example of dramatic irony would be when the police have a conversation around the dinner table, feasting on the leg of lamb. They say, “‘Personally, I think the murder weapon is right here on the premises.’ ‘Probably right under our very noses. What do you think, Jack?'” (324). This would be considered dramatic irony because the murder weapon is quite literally under their noses; they’re eating it. After this “…Mary Maloney began to giggle.” (324). This reveals that Mary believes this situation is humorous, which definitely shows us a more twisted side of her.Complex character traits can be shown in a pretty interesting way through the use of irony. Mary Maloney was shown to be an unstable, yet intelligent woman because of the irony in Lamb to the Slaughter. She had the appearance of ¬†something warm and loving, yet ended up killing her husband and getting away with an almost perfect crime. Irony is a very useful tool, and I had previously underestimated its powers. I believe Lamb to the Slaughter is an interesting story, and Mary Maloney’s characterization is an excellent example of irony being used to convey personality traits.