Comparing ‘The black cat’ and ‘Lamb to the slaughter’
Both short stories: ‘Lamb to the slaughter’ and ‘The black cat’ share the similarity where murder is committed between a married couple where one is the murderer and the other the victim. Both the murders are committed in the murderers’ house but the motives for both the crimes are different. The openings to both the stories are also dissimilar because they are written in various narrative forms. Tension and suspense is also created by using short phrases.
The opening of ‘The black cat’ gives the reader the knowledge of the narrators past ‘from my infancy I was especially fond of animals’. A lonely image of the narrator is portrayed in the readers mind as he explains he was closer to animals than to people. This opening captures the readers’ interest as to why he is closer to animals than to people and makes the reader wonder if his character will change later on into the story. Opposed to this the opening of ‘Lamb to the slaughter’ describes the setting as to the character: ‘the room was warm and clean... empty chair opposite’. This opening creates a peaceful atmosphere and presents Mary Maloney as warm and lonely. This is effective because it has the reader questioning why she is alone and if she is waiting for anyone or not.
Another similarity between the two stories is that the main characters are both a married couple, however in ‘The black cat’ the husband is the murderer of the wife and in ‘Lamb to the slaughter’ the wife is the murderer of the husband.
The personalities of the wives in both the stories are quite similar. They both adore and love their husbands but the feelings aren’t mutual. In ‘The black cat’ the wife is not named and scarce information is given about her. She is addressed as ‘my wife’ by the narrator. He also refers to her as ‘my uncomplaining wife’ and ‘the most patient of sufferers’. This shows that the wife is easy going and that she doesn’t rebel against her husband when he abuses her, whereas the situation of the wife in ‘Lamb to the slaughter’ is different. She is referred to by her name Mary Maloney and is six months pregnant. This is important because it shows what stage of her marriage life she is in and if it affects the outcome of the story. She is reliable and dependant on her husband to make her happy as it quotes ‘she loved to luxuriate in the presence of this man’. This shows that Mary enjoys just sitting down if it is her husband who is beside her. Also when you first begin to read ‘Lamb to the slaughter’ you get the sense of feeling that Mary Maloney is calm and caring ‘there was a slow smiling air about her’. The writer does this so that the reader begins to think that Mary’s character is gentle and warm. The murder then becomes more horrific as the reader does not expect a sudden change of character.
The husbands however do not have much in common. The husband in ‘The black cat’ who is the narrator is an alcoholic and a social reject. He...