Today I’m going to be doing something a little different than what I usually do, but don’t worry, it’s still book related! I’m going to share my thoughts on a short story I recently read by one of my favourite childhood authors. The Landlady by Roald Dahl is short story in the genre of suspense horror, much different than the beloved children’s books I know and love by Roald Dahl.
The overall theme of The Landlady is a common one seen in media, that everything is not as it seems. The theme is introduced when Billy Weaver, a young English business man stumbles across an unnamed bed and breakfast which seems pretty close to perfect. As his stay begins, it becomes apparent that there’s more to the inn than there seems. Too bad he couldn’t take a quick look on TripAdvisor before he made a decision on where to spend the night. Also, spoilers are ahead, so I recommend reading the short story here before continuing on.
Many literary elements contribute to the theme of The Landlady. The mood of the story contributes to the theme, the mood being suspense. The mood of suspense contributes to the theme of everything is as not as it seems because the reader is in suspense as they figure out that the inn is not the perfect inn it seemed to be. The reader begins to realize how creepy the landlady is, that there have been only two visitors in the past three years and that something is not right. The mood keeps the reader reading so they can discover what will happen to Billy Weaver.
The characterisation of the landlady herself also contributes to the theme of the the short story. She is first introduced as an eager, kind, and welcoming. A simile compares her to the “mother of one’s best school- friend welcoming one into the house to stay for the Christmas holidays”. She seems simply like a loving, and perhaps lonely, landlady. However, as the story goes on, her character develops into creepy and obsessive. Billy describes her as “slightly off her rocker.” The landlady cannot seem to leave Billy alone and tells him she only accepts attractive, young men to stay in her bed and breakfast. By the end of the story, it’s revealed that her only two guests are still at the hotel and she stuffs all of her dead pets, so they never leave. That’s pretty creepy and obsessive in my opinion, and definitely not like the kind landlady she appeared to be at the beginning,
The setting of The Landlady is also not what it appears to be at first. When Billy first stumbles upon it, it seems like a lovely bed and breakfast with nice curtains, flowers and a cute little dog sleeping on the couch. Even before Billy has a chance to step in the house, things are already a bit fishy. When he is debating if he should look at The Bell and Dragon, the words “bed and breakfast” appear before his eyes, “each word was like a large black eye staring at him through the glass, holding him, compelling him, forcing him to stay where he was and not to walk away from that house”, the first sign that there is something weird about that bed and breakfast. Right when he enters the hotel, he notices that there is no other guests visible, no coats, no umbrellas, no sign of anyone else there except the landlady. Even the dog on the couch is stuffed, not sleeping. The setting of the hotel was lovely visually, but there was something odd in the atmosphere.
That’s all for this post! Overall, I quite enjoyed The Landlady, it was a creepy short story, not scary enough to keep me up at night but suspenseful enough that I enjoyed it. Have you read a short story similar to The Landlady? If yes, tell me in the comments below. Also, I would just like to thank whoever created TripAdvisor, to keep us out of situations like this. If it’s not on TripAdvisor, don’t go there.
Until next time,