Interrelated Connections

Critical Analysis of Theme and Irony

In “Lamb to the Slaughter”, by Roald Dahl, the central theme of the story is connected to the irony displayed.

The story begins with Patrick, a police officer, coming home to his wife Mary and is acting in a strange manner. Mary tries her best to cheer him up but he instead asks for a divorce. Mary, in a state of shock, ends up killing her husband with a piece of lamb which is supposed to be their dinner. Trying to save the life of her unborn child, Mary goes through a sequence of steps to ensure she has an alibi.

The central theme of the story is underestimation. Irony is first displayed when the police notify Mary of the kind of murder weapon used. The detectives underestimate the weapon which leads to Mary being exonerated. Mary also thanks the officers for helping her find the killer which is ironic since it is her and the police underestimate the lengths she will go to for the sake of her unborn child. Lastly, as the officers are eating the lamb, one states that the murder weapon is “probably right¬†under [their] very noses.” The officers underestimate the cooked lamb could cause such damage to Patrick since they underestimate the power of a frozen lamb which is considered to be a weak animal in the first place.

Dahl, R. (1953, Sep 01). LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER-A story. Harper’s Magazine, 207, 39. Retrieved from

Crime Scene Cleanup – Nationwide & Local Services. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2017, from