Development of Characters in Lamb to the Slaughter, The Monkey's Paw and The Interlopers

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Characterization in a short story can create sympathy in the reader. Characterization is the means by which an author establishes and reveals various personalities in the story. Roald Dahl in “Lamb to the Slaughter,” W.W. Jacobs in “The Monkey’s Paw,” and Saki in “The Interlopers” develop realistic characters that possess strengths and weaknesses not unlike those of people the reader may know. Mary Maloney in “Lamb to the Slaughter” is a devoted wife, whose life revolves around the husband who betrays her. Mr. White in “The Monkey’s Paw” is a man whose desire to have more than he now possesses creates devastation for the family. Greatly influenced by an ancient land dispute, Ulrich von Gradwitz in “The Interlopers” makes the decision to rewrite a different end to the feud. The authors of “Lamb to the Slaughter,” “The Monkey’s Paw,” and “The Interlopers” develop their characters in various ways in order to create realistic people who draw the reader into each story.

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Mary Maloney in “Lamb to the Slaughter” is a devoted wife, whose life orbits around the husband, which is Mr. Maloney, who betrays her for infidelity and alcohol. Mary Maloney is a perfect and devoted house wife, also an expectant mother. She waits happily each night for the arrival of her husband Patrick from work at the police station. But on one Thursday night, she commits an almost perfect murder. The author Roald Dahl has developed the character of Mary Maloney both through direct and indirect characterization. This reveals her character as being dynamic through her words and personality, and is what makes this short story a success. In the Book the narrator tells the quote from Mrs. Maloney and reads, “That’s the way, she told herself. Do everything right and natural. Keep things absolutely natural and there’ll be no need for any acting at all.” The significance of characterization helps a reader to actually give feelings and a care about the Wife or Mrs. Maloney in the story. If characterization was changed in this story, I believe that the mood of the story would change and the reader might have a different effect or feelings towards the wife in the short story, also would probably fall more for the husband in the story. Mrs. Maloney is one of the main characters in this story and she can’t live without her husband and it reflects on the different words and mood of the story.

Mr. White is the elderly man who buys the monkey’s paw and uses it to wish for two hundred pounds (British money) in order to pay off the loan on his house. At the beginning of the story, he’s skeptical about the paw. Is it magical, or is it just an icky piece of junk? By the end of the story, though, he’s totally convinced of its powers. “The Monkey’s Paw” is a tragedy, the story of Mr. White’s fall from a basically happy life to one full of fear, doubt, guilt, and loneliness when his son dies and his wife breaks down. We might see “The Monkey’s Paw” as the story of a foolish man who makes foolish wishes and pays the price. We might also see it as the story of a man who learns to be strong when life gets tough. In the reader’s eyes you see that the monkey is magic and nobody else knows about it except for Mr. White and his family. Also as the story progresses the reader kind of gets pull in to the characters eyes of the story and you kind of see what Mr. White and his family goes through with the Monkeys’ paw. Monkey’s paw?” said Mrs. White, curiously. “Well, it’s just a bit of what you might call magic, perhaps,” said the sergeant-major, offhandedly. (1.21). If you changed to a different character rather than Mr. White, the story would change in many different ways, but not in a major way just that you would see the story in a different family member or someone outside the story. In the “Monkey’s Paw” Mr. White buys a monkey that possesses magic and the family starts to make wishes that doesn’t always turn good in the story, this is why I chose Mr. White for this paragraph.

Greatly influenced by an ancient land dispute, Ulrich von Gradwitz in “The Interlopers” makes the decision to rewrite a different end to the feud. Ulrich von Gradwitz is a wealthy landowner. He has legal right to a disputed stretch of land but knows that Georg continues to hunt on this land. On the night the story takes place, he has organized a group of men to find Georg, whom he plans to kill. He considers Georg his enemy and calls him a “forest-thief, game-snatcher.” After the men get trapped under the tree, Ulrich offers Georg some of his wine and is the first one to put forth the idea of making amends. Ulrich is also the one who sees wolves approaching. Ulrich von Gradwitz is a round and dynamic character. At the begining of the story he had wanted to kill Georg, but after them meetface to face he had changed his mind, and he wanted to stoped the feud between the two families, so he changed throughout the story. He has quite a few different character traits, so that he is a round character too. I think the ending of this story is effective, because it is a really surprise ending which made the story more interesting to read . In the end Ulrich and Geory has become friends but nobody will ever know since they are probably going eaten by the wolves.

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