Both Dahl and Glaspell convey themes of the domestic trap that society places women in through different literary devices, in the short story "Lamb to the Slaughter" and the play Trifles.
In "Lamb to the Slaughter" Roald Dahl uses the leg of lamb as a symbol of domesticity. The meat, which the primary intention of it was to be cooked and eaten, had mainly to do with the kitchen and women. When Mary used the leg of lamb to kill her husband, she turned a domestic tool into a tool for harm and murder. In this way, Mary challenged the domestic role the patriarchy of the time had placed her into. The leg of lamb also represents Mary, and the way she follows her husband, the same way a lamb follows a shepherd. The leg of lamb also alludes to the bible; in the way the Jesus was the Lamb and a martyr for Christians, the same way that Mary’s husband was a martyr for the patriarchate.
In Trifles, the use of the canary bird ...view middle of the document...
Mary, the protagonist, is seen as a typical housewife who is content with sitting in her house all day and doting on the men in her life. The thing that triggers her to kill is the news that her husband is leaving her, suggesting that she cannot live without a man in her life. Mary is content with her domesticated life, and prefers living in her house.
On the other hand, since a woman wrote Trifles, it has a very feminine touch. Minnie’s house is in nowhere near perfect condition, as commented on by the men that come into her home. This shows the male perspective of what the home should look like, versus the female reality of what the home is like. Glaspell also shows the unhappiness that many women felt, including Minnie, in marriage. Minnie was once lively, but after her marriage became quiet and distant from the other women in the town. Her husband isolated her, both geographically since they lived in a hollow, and socially with his refusal to purchase a telephone. Contrary to Mary, Minnie saw her house as a prison, instead of a paradise.
The language used in “Lamb of the Slaughter” is very tension filled. The reader is put into suspense as they wait for Patrick to come home and deliver the news, and is thrust into tension again as Mary comes up with her alibi and is confronted by the police. This is because a person that one would not usually associate with such violent crimes, a housewife, committed a murder. The stark unnaturalness of a content wife murdering her husband is so unlikely, that Mary was easily able to manipulate the police officers and get away with the murder.
Whereas in Trifles the language used towards women is typically condescending. The men in the situation regard the women as incompetent as they worry about such small ideals in the house, when in reality they are actually figuring out what had happened to Minnie’s husband. The women used their domestic skills to solve a crime that took would have took the men much longer to figure out, since they would have not typically concerned themselves with women’s housework. The patronizing comments made by the men show the ignorance to which they had of the women and their actual roles and duties in the home.