The Landlady


This study guide will help you analyse the text “The Landlady” by Roald Dahl. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on the summary, structure, characters, setting, narrator and point of view, language, theme and message.

Presentation of the text

Title: “The Landlady”
Author: Roald Dahl
Published in: “The New Yorker”
Date of Publication: 1959
Genre: Short Story

Roald Dahl (1916-1990) was one of the most acclaimed British writers of the 20th century. He is mostly known for his books dedicated to children – like “James and the Giant Peach” or “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” – but also for his adults’ literature and his preference for horror or mystery themes.


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Similes and comparisons

Several similes and comparisons help readers better understand the context of the short story, the setting, as well as the ways in which the characters look or act. For example, the wind “was like a flat blade of ice” on Billy’s face. Then, “each word was like a large black eye staring at him through the glass” – a phrase referring to the writing on the wall.


When he discovers the names of the former lodgers in the landlady’s guest book, Billy constantly repeats that he is “almost positive” that he has seen their names before. All in all, the word “positive” is repeated three times in the story. Also, note that Billy also repeats the names of Mr Mulholland and Mr Temple to remember something about them.

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The Landlady

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