The Landlady by Roald Dahl Book Review
Billy Weaver was only 17 years old, excited about a job in a new city, when his life was stolen from him by a cold, calculated murderer. Billy decided to spend the night at a seemingly cozy bed and breakfast. Little did he know that later that night he would drink a cup of tea with cyanide, die from lack of oxygen, and have taxidermy performed on his young body. It is clear that the landlady is sane, knew exactly what she was doing when committing the crime, and guilty of first degree murder.
First, the landlady has to be sane because she was a skilled taxidermist. There is no way that someone so masterful at taxidermy is not right in the mind. According to taxidermy experts, “This complex practice incorporates carpentry, woodwork, tanning, molding, and casting” (Taxidermy 18). Taxidermy is a very complex practice and the landlady has to be sound of mind in order to perform it. It takes too much skill and focus for an insane person to do it. Also, Billy Weaver realizes, “ that this animal had all the time been just as silent and motionless as the parrot... and when he pushed the hair to one side with his fingers, he could see the skin underneath, greyish-black and dry and perfectly preserved” (Dahl 16). Not only could the landlady perform taxidermy, but she was also very good at it. So good, infact, that Billy thought the dog was real. An insane person would not have the ability to perform taxidermy as well as the landlady did.
Secondly, the landlady knew what she was doing because she had already murdered two people years before Billy. If she was insane she would not be able to precisely plan three different murders. The landlady says to Billy, “‘But my dear boy, he never left. He’s still here. They’re on the third floor, both of them’” (Dahl 15). The landlady claims that the two people who stayed with her before Billy never left. The landlady is sane because she understands that she had murdered two people before, and they are still at her house. One of the men, Mr. Mulholland, was propped up in bed by the defendant, looking like he is reading a book. The other man, Mr. Temple, is lying in bed. Both of these men are dead, and have had taxidermy performed on them (film). The landlady murdered two other men the same way she murdered Billy, over a span of three years. Billy realizes just that when signing the guest book: “‘This last entry is over two years old...And Christopher Mulholland's is nearly a year before that—more than three years ago’” (Dahl 14). There were long periods of time between each of the three murders. The landlady enjoyed her first murder and relished it so much that she decided to do it another two times. The landlady has had experience with first degree murder, had time to think about what she did, and was sane at the time of all three of the murders.
Lastly, while the defense might argue that the landlady is insane because she has her dead pets laying around, evidence will prove otherwise. The landlady asks, “‘and have you met my little Basil as well?’ she nodded towards the dachshund curled up so comfortably in front of the fire” (Dahl 16). The defense will twist the quote to say that the landlady is insane because she refers to her pet as if it is alive. It is clear, though, that she knows the dog is dead. She is simply mocking it and using it to show her taxidermy skills. This distinctly proves that the landlady is not insane, she is just a cruel and murderous woman.
It is clear that the landlady knew what she was doing when committing these murders, proving that she is sane and guilty of pre-meditation in killing her victims. She determinedly, cunningly and methodologically murdered three different men, at three different times. She also performed the difficult skill of taxidermy on not only animals, but also on poor, young men. She had time to dwell on all of her murders and kept deciding to kill more people. Who knows how many more young men she would have killed if her crimes were not found out. She is undoubtedly a threat to humanity, must be found guilty of first degree murder, and punished to the full extent of the law.