Analysis of “The Landlady”, Roald Dahl.

The Land Lady is a fictional story by Roald Dahl which describes Billy Weaver’s stay at a guest house. The language used brings to mind Semantic Derogation; the story also illustrates the contrast between genders. For example, Dahl describes the Landlady as having, “gentle blue eyes”. The world gentle automatically brings to mind the stereotype of being gentle, somewhat motherly.

Moreover, the title of the story, The Landlady, is an example of Semantic Derogation. The male form of the world Landlady is Landlord someone who has wealth, authority and is high up. Whereas, Landlady means someone who looks after her guests, this title does not have the emphasis and authority that Land Lord has.  Perhaps Roald Dahl uses this title to criticise the stereotypes used not just against women, but men. I also think that the title itself could entail that the Landlady maybe be the protagonist of the story, or whether the story is “pro-woman”? Although, the title could bring to mind negative stereotypical terms about women. The audience are left questioning immediately what the story is about.

Dahl then goes on to start the book, where Billy meets the Landlady and she appears to be very affectionate and caring towards Billy. An example of this is where she says. “I’m so glad you appeared” ,’earnestly’. However this can imply in two different ways, is the Landlady being generally nice or too forward with their relationship, implying sexual connotations?

The word earnestly means to say something with a serious tone but sincerely. this implies that the Landlady had been waiting for someone to appear, almost like Billy’s appearance could be closure to her waiting;  in contrast to the idea of her being generally nice.

In addition to the idea of the Landlady waiting for another person to offer her closure, she discloses the fact that two men are upstairs, but before this, Billy says no names have been in the log book since two other men.

It only becomes awfully suspicious and uncanny when Dahl implements her dialogue to be, “I stuff all my little pets myself when they pass away”… Although this makes the Landlady seem very insane and deranged, referring back to the idea of gender stereotypes and the possible inference of sexual connotations; Dahl maybe want to prove that stereotypically you should not judge someone by their title, nor their role. They can be insane, strong, happy, sad etc  regardless of gender.


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