Roald Dahl's eerie landlady : A macabre tale of aging
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This article examines Roald Dahl's adult short story ‘The Landlady’ through the lens of age studies and the horror genre. It explores how different symbolic and gothic textual elements contribute to the narrative of decline and the negative notion of later life. Special attention is given to female aging and dementia, which is presented as a horrifying ‘silent killer’ embodied in the figure of a witch. In the story, older age is portrayed as a source of horror and evokes a fear of aging that is linked to gradual bodily, mental, and social decline. Although Dahl's tale provides some hints that aging can be empowering and liberating for older women, the portrayal of the landlady proves that older age is enshrined in negative and even grotesque perceptions of later life. The use of horror helps further expose the individual and societal fears of growing older and the challenges of aging. The sardonic and twisted ending of the story also reveals the complexities of both growing up and growing older. Shedding light on Dahl's dark narrative from the perspective of age studies offers new vantage points from which to review the author's literary legacy and rethink the representations of aging in popular literature. Ultimately, the article adds to interdisciplinary approaches to older age and shows how humanities-based perspectives can contribute to expanding research into aging and later life.
Is part ofJournal of Aging Studies, 2022, vol. 62, núm. 101061, p. 1-8
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