Abstract her nest. This appeals to him because it

Abstract

            The Landlady is
Roald Dahl’s short story published in 1959. It depicts the downfall of a 17
years old young boy, who travels London to Bath on a work issue and stays for
the night in Bed and Breakfast, which
is the Landlady’s nest. She is kind and generous at the beginning, but as the
story progress, her innocence and lack of other people in the house turn out to
be a horrific secret.

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The
Character of the Woman in the Landlady

            In the short story, The Landlady by Roald Dahl, we see
that ignoring your instincts can result in serious consequences. This is
actually the statement describes the circumstance of the protagonist.
Appearance may sometimes be deceptive as Billy Weaver at the end of the story
realizes how the sentimental old woman turns out to be a ”serial killer”.  Although the antagonist in The Landlady is
trustworthy because of her naivety, nice-looking, sincerity, and kindness one
should not perceive these as the indicator of innocence.

            To begin with, the Landlady always pretends that she is
innocent so that Billy will trust her and is not suspicious of her. As soon as
he knocks the door, she opens the door immediately holding it wide open and giving
him a warm-welcoming smile. As a matter of fact, the first impression is always
important as in the story because the seventeen years old inexperienced boy is
seduced by the physical appearance of the Landlady. He starts forwarding into
the house without a second thought because he thinks that the old lady is
innocent and harmless. Secondly, the Landlady makes Billy a remarkable amount
of discount for Billy to make him stay in her nest. This appeals to him because
it was half less than what he had been prepared to sacrifice. However, he is
puzzled by the emptiness of cloakroom as no properties hanging on it. He feels
uneasy about this; however, this doesn’t prevent him from staying there because
he will pay little money for lodging after all. Basically, we see a great
example of foreshadowing at this part of the story. The ”inexperienced boy”
has no idea what he is dealing with here. Besides, although Billy thinks that the
Landlady is slightly crazy as she is not often takes a visitor in her nest; he
is still obsessed with the fee. ” The old girl is slightly dotty, Billy told
himself. But at five and sixpence a night, who gives a damn about that?”. (2) Thirdly,
the Landlady tries to make Billy comfortable by offering him a cup of hot tea
and a ginger biscuit. At first, it seems that she tries to welcome him nicely
and showing very gentle behavior, yet there is this fact that when Billy took a
sip his tea, it tasted of bitter almonds. The bitter almonds here may be associated
with arsenic or some kind of poison like that. At this point of the story, the
Landlady may be trying to intoxicate his ”victim” by putting a kind of poison
in his tea. In contrast, she tries to look like hospitable to make Billy feel
like he is home. For example, she often smiles at him, shows herself harmless,
gives him a hand to look innocent in the eyes of him. ” She seemed terribly
nice. She looked exactly like the mother of one’s best school friend welcoming
one into the house to stay for the Christmas holidays.” (2). The Landlady
actually wants to earn Billy’s trust because she is unwilling to lose such a
flawless ”victim” for her.

            The Landlady sometimes tries to hide her real identity.
When Billy signs the guestbook, he is obsessed with the two names in it. He
scans his memory to figure out where he heard about these two names.
Afterwards, he remembers that he saw them on the newspaper claiming that they
sound familiar.  However, the Landlady
must be uncomfortable with this that she changes the topic immediately and
distracts him by inviting him on the sofa for drinking a cup of hot tea.  She appears like she is interested in the
topic, but actually she is not as we understand from the way she talks “They
sound somehow familiar,” he said. “They do? How interesting.”   When the Landlady wants Billy to sign the
guest book she states that “We don’t want to go breaking any laws at this stage of the proceedings”
(2).
The vocabulary ”proceedings” may be the evocative of the court. One possible reason for that she
may have broken the laws before and does not want to get his fingers burned. The
other possible reason is that the old woman might be trying to demonstrate she
is doing a legitimate job so that Billy would not care about the entries,
belongings and other stuffs. By the time Billy realizes the name, ”Mr. Mulholland”,
on the newspaper was an Eton school boy that disappeared, she assures him that
her ”Mr. Mulholland” was completely different.  ”Oh no, my dear, that
can’t possibly be right because my Mr. Mulholland was certainly not an Eton
schoolboy when he came to me. He was a Cambridge undergraduate.” (4) The
Landlady apparently does not want to unveil his ”real victims” and not want
Billy to be alarmed. If she did so, her real plans for him would come to light.

            The Landlady turns into a serial killer rather than a
sentimental old woman as the story progress. She waits for the perfect victim
because she has only two guests welcomed in her ”little nest” so far. Most
compelling evidence for that, she keeps ready everything day and night that a
charming gentleman would visit her nest.  To clarify, she is particular about his
”victims” as she states ” they were tall and young and handsome, my dear,
just exactly like you.” (4) ‘I’m inclined to be just a teeny weeny bit choosy
and particular.” (2)  Moreover, at some
time she pries Billy’s body all the way down with her eyes. ?n fact, the old
woman examines his body all the way like she has some deviant thoughts. Even
so, Billy is still not be aware of her real intentions and is blind to reality.
Furthermore, when they are on the sofa, it is obvious that he stirs up her
interest. ”Her body was half-turned towards him, and he could feel her eyes
resting on his face, watching him over the rim of her teacup” (4) Also, the
Landlady knew ahead of time Billy would arrive her nest since she was
introduced herself harmless by her sincere attitudes towards him and by making
him a discount as we understand from these statements “I should like very much
to stay here.”  “I knew you would. Do
come in.” (2) On the other side, The Landlady has a hobby of stuffing her
animals when they pass away. This hobby is quite strange for a ”sentimental”
old woman because a normal person does not have this kind of hobby. Also she confesses
that she did stuff her parrot, and dachshund, which misleads Billy whether they
are alive or not. This encouraged Billy to step in her nest because he thought
that animals were usually a good signal as we see in the text ” Animals
were usually a good sign in a place like this, Billy told himself” (1) Animals
here may have reminded him her childhood memories. Obviously, he is still
childlike and perceives the Landlady as a mother figure.  Meanwhile, Billy is still puzzling his head
about the two names, so the Landlady confesses that the two men stayed in her
little nest up to two years ago were still upstairs. ” They’re on the third
floor, both of them together.” (4) Now that the ”innocent” lady is turning
out to be a serial killer. In addition, she chooses her guests elaborately,
especially the handsome ones. She goes over Billy’s body, teeth, and skin.
After that, she refers to Mr. Temple’s body saying that ”There wasn’t a
blemish on his body.”  ” “His skin was
just like a baby’s.” (5) Even if this frightened Billy a little bit, he doesn’t
think of run away. However, she obviously has a twisted mind.

            In conclusion, behavior, and physical appearance
sometimes may be misleading as in the story. One should not perceive these as
indicator of innocence like our antagonist. Because of this, he steps in point
of no return. Ignoring his instincts and believing merely his eyes cause his
downfall. In the story, we don’t know what happened at the end because Dahl wants
us to guess what is going to happen to our antagonist. He states that ”When I’m writing for
adults, I’m just trying to entertain them” (West 65). Maybe he wants to arouse
curiosity or just writing to entertain us as we can’t make a definite judgment
about what happened at the end.