'The Landlady' is a short story about a young lad called Billy travelling to Bath on a business trip. He arrives in Bath in the evening and looks for accommodation. Bath was an unfamiliar place to Billy so he was unsure of the area. Billy was guided by a porter who recommended the 'Bell and Dragon' because it was close by, but Billy never went. Although the landlady offered cheap prices and cosy surroundings, she changes her attitude towards Billy as the story unfolds. He then realises that this landlady doesn't appear to be all that she seems to be. He begins to become concerned during his stay but never manages to uncover the landlady's secret before she murders the young lad.
To create suspense Roald Dahl has set the time at 9pm when darkness takes over light. As dark represents evil the mood changes to an atmosphere of suspense, particularly if you're unfamiliar with the area.
This is exactly what happened to Billy and
The weather is an important part of the setting in which
"He didn't know anyone who lived there"
This quotation shows that Billy is a lonely person in the strange city called Bath. So when assisting for help he would have nobody to turn to, not even his family. This shows that Billy's mood isn't so pleasant whilst being careful in an isolated area.
Billy was told by a friend in London saying that Bath 'was a splendid city'.
Billy is seventeen, his calm and relaxed as he 'walks briskly' through the streets of Bath taking no notice of the absence of his isolation. Billy is a new and inexperienced person at his job as a businessman. As Billy 'walks briskly' he notices that the houses were all identical and have been neglected, he could see that the 'paint was peeling from the woodwork'. This relates back to as why Bath was a splendid city. The reader has been given another clue indicating a build up of suspense, because they now know that Bath is recognised as an abandoned city.
The pub 'Bell and Dragon' was recommended by a porter because it was close by, but Billy never went. Instead he glances at the boarding house with his 'eye caught and held in the most peculiar manner by a small notice'.
'BED AND BREAKFAST, BED AND BREAKFAST, BED AND BREAKFAST'
The supernatural force finally compelled Billy to enter the front door and ring the bell. He was immediately confronted by the 'Landlady' as she answered the door 'at once'. The landlady invited Billy with a 'warm welcoming smile'. At the moment the landlady seems to be charming in order to get Billy's invitation to come in. Billy finds himself as being a lucky lad, to find a cosy house to stay in, whilst being isolated and inexperienced in Bath. Also the prices are cheap, which makes Billy to stay for certain. The landlady has a friendly appearance, gentle blue eyes with a round pink face that shows she's warm and caring, inviting Billy in this way makes him feel homely. Again the landlady uses her charm to determine Billy doesn't leave, by removing an egg for breakfast to lower his costs.
Billy's tension starts to build when he realises that there are no coats, umbrellas, and hats displayed near the front door. This is very strange considering it's at a boarding house where you would expect to see visitors each day. However there are more extraordinary happenings that go on as the story unfolds.
'You see, it isn't very often I have the
pleasure of taking a visitor into my little nest'
The landlady immediately changes her kind welcoming speech into something more dramatic and alarming, the quote above shows just that. She expresses this speech towards Billy quite madly, which indicates that her little nest is in fact her uncomfortable insaneness inside the boarding house. Additionally, if there were more guests that visit the landlady then
Billy realises that the landlady is 'slightly dotty' and he knows that she's a little mad but not psychotic. However the reader realises that the landlady is becoming more psychotic as
This supernatural continues when
The landlady eventually tells Billy to sign the guest book because 'it's the law of the land, and we don't want to go breaking any laws'. Again the reader is reminded about the change of the landlady's speech, where the reader instantly knows that what her secret is would be something against the law. However, Billy notices that there are only two names displayed in the entire guest book, which are also two years old. These names become very peculiar and strikes Billy as being familiar. As he struggles to remember where he's heard the names before, the landlady brings him a cup of tea. The landlady again interrupts Billy as if she doesn't want him to find out her secret and furthermore for him to leave so soon. However he seems to remember that one of them was an Eton schoolboy that disappeared, but she assures him that 'her Mr. Temple' was different.
'They sound somehow familiar'
'They do? How interesting'
The way that the landlady conducts her speech is very clever. She answers Billy using a question, avoiding answering questions, which makes her speech more charming, 'They do? How interesting'.
The landlady again reassures Billy with a cup of tea whilst interrupting him once again. At this point the reader starts to make assumptions about the landlady and why she keeps reminding Billy about the tea she has made. Suddenly the unexpected happens when the landlady tells Billy that both Mr Mulhalland and Mr Temple are still at the boarding house 'together'. More tension builds when the landlady enters a silent stage as Billy drinks the tea. Billy is confused with this suspense, he is nervous 'biting his lower lip' and he tries to change the subject by commenting on a parrot in a cage, which he thought was alive but just realised it is stuffed, as well as the dachshund. Eventually, the landlady reveals that she herself stuffed the bird, and as she is a taxidermist she stuffs all her own pets. This immediately brings shock to the reader and by now they would have guessed the landlady's secret and that she is psychotic, throughout the build up of suspense in the story. Whereas Billy only knows that the landlady is strange, mad and 'dotty'.
'You did sign the book, didn't you?'
The landlady gives Billy a reminder about signing the guest book, which he has already completed. She has given Billy this reminder because 'she needs to keep a record of her victims' that stay at the boarding house.
Overall, I think that