Her insistence that Billy sign the guestbook before bed implies he wouldn't be able to do it later. Billy takes another sip of tea. The location is full of old and dilapidated buildings except for the inn of the old lady which is well looked after. Checkout English Summary's free educational tools and dictionaries. The guest book highlights exactly how isolated Billy is at this point; not only are there no other current guests, but there aren’t even any recent guests who have shared this same experience. Billy slowly puts down his cup. She says she was beginning to worry about Billy's arrival when she didn't even know he was coming. Dahl seems to suggest that environments of anonymity are especially dangerous to innocents like Billy, who are so desperate for personal connection that they rely on untrustworthy people. She says Mr. Temple didn't have a blemish on his body. Here, Billy’s compulsion to enter the house is a metaphor for curiosity and humanity’s dark, macabre desire to experience frightening things. I think this is the point where the reader thinks Billy should definitely get out of there. She finally lulls her third youthful victim to the dungeon of her dark desires. It's a manageable length at about 3,500 words. However, the appearance of the inn overlooks the eerie insides of the building which harbors deep and dark secrets within its walls. Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on December 19, 2019: The landlady has a bed prepared for Billy with a hot water bottle, and tells him he can light the gas fire, but she knows he won't be using any of these things. She asks him to sign the guestbook, as the law requires, before going to sleep. Of course, there's no reason a bad person couldn't have animals in the home. There are flowers, green velvety curtains, and a dog curled up by a fire. This could make us think of blood. Teachers and parents! She watches him as he drinks. This would make Billy feel superior to her and, thus, not in any danger. It's surprisingly cheap. She invites Billy to sit by her to have his tea. Her remark is not only eerie, but puzzlingly, she describes Gregory using the past tense. Billy says he must have left fairly recently. This new information is confusing and strange, and if this Mr. Mulholland is the same as the Christopher Mulholland who Billy read about in the newspapers, it suggests that the landlady is somehow responsible for his mysterious disappearance. It's a horror story with gradually building tension, leading to a shocking conclusion. Although he fears “rapacious landladies,” Billy follows his host anyway, noticing how motherly she looks. Again, he feels a strong desire to go stay. Billy says the parrot had him fooled from outside; he thought it was alive. The most obvious example of foreshadowing occurs late in the story when we know for sure Billy is in danger. However, the appearance of the inn overlooks the eerie insides of the building which harbors deep and dark secrets within its walls. Roald Dahl's The Landlady is a standout among his many memorable short stories. This article starts with a summary and then looks at a theme, foreshadowing, irony and some questions to consider. This final turn of events underscores how even something completely normal and comforting, like tea, can mask a terrifying reality. "My students can't get enough of your charts and their results have gone through the roof." She says it couldn't be the one who stayed with her. The story is set in Bath, England. Dahl also makes reference to the communities and generations traumatized in the aftermath of the World Wars when Billy assumes that the landlady has “lost a son in the war.” This presents her as a lonely or grief-stricken older lady, thus creating sympathy for her even though her behavior appears sinister (and also offers a potential motive for her behavior when it is revealed — that the loss of a son drives her to prize innocence and youth in an unhealthy way). On the exterior the inn and its landlady are warm and welcoming but they are also brooding and mysterious. He moves closer and looks in. While his hostess serves the tea, Billy notices she has red finger-nails. She says she stuffs all her little pets when they die. The room is nicely furnished. The hostess invites Billy to sit with her by the fire and have his tea. The landlady says that the other two young men from the guestbook never left. The precariousness of Billy’s situation is also emphasized through the fact that he is alone in an unfamiliar city, which hints at Dahl’s larger point about the dangers of urban anonymity. Mr. Temple could have been traveling on business, as Billy is. That way she can check his name if she forgets, the way she does with Mr. Mulholland and Mr. Temple. He goes down to the living-room. There's silence for a while. The landlady says Mr. Mulholland loved his tea and drank a lot of it. “Would not have made it through AP Literature without the printable PDFs. Additionally, this scene contains a number of hints at death that Billy blithely misses: yellow chrysanthemums are used as funeral flowers in parts of Europe, while the dog and parrot turn out to look so perfect because they are actually dead and stuffed. When Billy goes down to the warm and cozy living-room, he thinks he's a "lucky fellow." After all, she's harmless and generous. It is when he remembers the news regarding the Mulholland disappearance and finds something strange with the tea that that the plot reveals the actual trickery of the landlady. We're alerted early on to the fact that Billy, in his young naivety, accepts things at face value. H e is also wary of the comments of old lady where she keeps complimenting his youthful looks. He's directed to The Bell and Dragon about a quarter mile down the road. It’s likely that she has intentionally curated the pleasing appearance of the Bed and Breakfast in order to entice her visitors, an act that will later be revealed as an example of her deceptive nature. This revelation indicates that the landlady has killed the young men for the express purpose of preserving their innocence. Obviously, she couldn't be presented this way throughout the story. This sounds comforting and safe, but it's actually the moment of no return for Billy. Billy looks at the dog curled by the fire and realizes its also been stuffed. Either way, the landlady has selected Billy carefully as her latest victim, and presumably plans to stuff him too. She compliments his teeth. The description of the harsh weather in Bath creates a tense atmosphere. It's cozy and the dog still sleeps by the fire. It is warm and cosy and decorated with flowers. The tea tasted of bitter almonds, which implies it contained cyanide. This sounds odd to Billy. She doesn't think so, but they were handsome, like Billy. LitCharts Teacher Editions. Here, Dahl seems to suggest that advertising (which could symbolize urban capitalism) poses a very real threat to innocent people. She helps him with his coat. Billy is suspicious of the information which he receives from the old lady regarding the precious visitors. The newspaper stories about Christopher Mulholland represent society, community, and shared values, particularly because there seems to have been a collective effort to search for and find the missing schoolboy. Billy’s logical and prudent decision is defeated by an overwhelming and seemingly mystical force, which draws him to the Bed and Breakfast. Although Billy doesn't react to this like he's in danger, the reader has no doubt anymore. He continues talking about the men, sure that he'll remember who they are. He asks the porter if there's a fairly cheap hotel nearby. The location is full of old and dilapidated buildings except for the inn of the old lady which is well looked after. She confirms that he signed the book. Before he knows what’s happening, Billy finds himself moving towards the Bed and Breakfast and ringing the doorbell. The story is set in Bath, England. She seems like a perfectly pleasant and safe person to be around. The landlady turns out to be a sinister character. Mr. Mulholland, whom he remembers from the paper, was on a walking tour. Billy doesn't mind that she's odd. Billy doesn’t pause to consider that briskness might be a negative quality, and instead, he blindly sets about imitating those he perceives to be successful. He also notices a parrot in a cage. Through this horrific strategy, Dahl suggests that all attempts to preserve purity are similarly unnatural and misguided; everyone has to grow up, even though doing so is painful. It tasted faintly of bitter almonds and he didn't really care for it. But her motive could be to give that exact impression. He talks about the stuffed parrot and finds out that the dog by the fire is also dead and stuffed. She offers more tea, but Billy declines. He's been sent by the Head Office in London and is to report to the local Branch Manager as soon as he can. The Landlady Summary “ The Landlady” is a short story by Roald Dahl about a young man who lodges at a sinister boarding house. Detailed explanations, analysis, and citation info for every important quote on LitCharts. Struggling with distance learning? Perhaps she intentionally uses the wrong name to make herself seem harmless. The reader learns that the previous guests were both young, just like Billy. He walks briskly down the residential street. It is not clear whether Billy is under the spell of some dark magic, or whether his curiosity has just got the better of him, but either way, it’s notable that the sign is the deciding factor that gets Billy to go inside.
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