Compare and contrast Mary in "Lamb to the slaughter" with "A jury of her peers"

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Roald Dahl's novel Lamb to the slaughter is about Mary, the heroine, and how she kills her husband Patrick. Mary hits him with a frozen leg of lamb but is terrified of going to prison because she wants her unborn child to be healthy. As a result, she concocts a cover story and tricks the cops. Susan Glaspell's book, A Jury of Her Colleagues, describes how two women, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, solved a murder case that men couldn't. Feminists are the authors of both novels. They try to bring out the argument that women can equal their male counterparts in terms of reasoning and can even do better. Various themes have also been seen in the stories such as the role of gender and justice. Several similarities and differences have been noted in the two stories as argued below.


In the two stories, the protagonists have superior analytical skills to the opposite gender. For instance, in the story Lamb to the Slaughter, Mary creates a perfect cover-up that fools the police. Mary not only hides the murder weapon but also prepares it for supper. In the story a jury of her peers, the women use various clues to get evidence. These clues include kitchen, clothes, sewing basket and the strangled bird (Glaspell pg. no 7). The women analyze the situation and even discover the motive of the murder. In the two plots, the characterization is perfect. The two genders hang out together but only the female gender remain outstanding. This helps the story to get a purpose and deliver a message that women too have an equal IQ to men.

In both stories, the authors dramatize the gender roles allocated to women. According to the time of the setting of the plot, the women`s main role was the kitchen. In both stories, the scenes are mainly in the kitchen and use of equipment found in the kitchen. Mary uses a frozen lamb to kill her husband (Roald, pg. no 4). She also prepares a meal for the male police officers in the kitchen. Foster, Hale, and Peters get their evidence in the kitchen. They are ordered by the attorney to tidy up the kitchen. A woman`s role is in the kitchen since the attorney is disappointed by the state of the kitchen. A failure in the kitchen implies that a woman has failed to perform her roles well.

Both stories go against the traditional instincts. The authors can communicate a message that only the male gender can kill people. The police try to look up for masculine features that may appear in their investigation and this misguides their mission. For example, Mary is not viewed as a suspect but as a key witness in her husband`s murder case. The police go ahead and try to comfort her in her time of sorrow. Hale and Peters are left to tidy up the kitchen. The attorney asks them to call him in case of any clue that may arise. The male police officers are not interested in the kitchen since they believe the masculine features cannot be found in the kitchen.

In both cases, justice is not served since the women cover up for the murders. The two authors try to justify the deaths. In the story “Lamb to the Slaughter”, the author tries to justify Mary’s action and considers it to be a revenge against his husband. Her husband had been cheating on him and before his death, he had asked for a divorce. In “A Jury of Her Peers”, the women cover up the evidence since they understood the suspect`s motive (Glaspell pg. no. 11). The suspect had killed her husband for strangling the only thing that gave her hope, the bird. However, killing a human being cannot be justified and thus justice should have been served.


Despite the similarities, the stories have some differences. The gender roles have been allocated differently in the two stories. Mary plays the role of a traditional woman. Her role is simply to cook and give birth to babies since she is pregnant. She is also harmless and seems to allow his husband to cheat on him. Hale and Peters seem to live in a modern society. They have been able to get relevant positions in the government and roles that are assumed to be occupied by men. They are police officers. This shows that their culture has begun appreciating the role of women in the society unlike Mary`s.

In the two stories, the degree in which the police try to achieve justice is different in both stories. Both Mary and Foster are responsible for the death of their husbands. However, Foster is locked up in the police cells while Mary remains a free woman. Foster`s absence in most part of the plot shows that she is in jail. The police, in this case, have thus tried to get justice for her husband. However, the police officers in Mr. Patrick give up and do not conduct further investigations but instead enjoy a meal with Mary (Roald, pg. no. 8).

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Work cited

Dahl, Roald. "Lamb to the Slaughter." Harper’s Magazine (1953).

Glaspell, Susan, and Candace Winkler. Jury of Her Peers. Blue Ridge Radio Players, 1995.

September 11, 2021



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