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Literature / The Lodger

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The Lodger is a 1914 novel by Marie Belloc Lowndes, and the inspiration for the Alfred Hitchcock film and subsequent films of the same name.

The story revolves around a retired couple, both formerly servants who make extra income by renting out rooms in their home. Unsuccessful as landlords and facing the prospect of hard times, they are saved when a single gentleman rents their upstairs rooms. This young man is eccentric and has unusual requirements, but he pays very handsomely. Meanwhile, a series of murders are being committed by "The Avenger"...

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This novel contains examples of:

  • Accomplice by Inaction: A major source of guilt for the Buntings.
  • Affably Evil: The lodger is polite, quiet, and regularly pays rent. He's also Jack the Ripper.
  • Contrived Coincidence: By sheer happenstance the Buntings and Mr. Sleuth visit Madame Tussauds on the same day as London's Head Commissioner of the Police and the Paris Prefect of Police. Sleuth assumes Mrs. Bunting ratted him out to them and flees.
  • The Eyes Have It: Played with. One of the first things Mr. Sleuth does upon arriving at his new rooms is turn all the pictures of women to face the wall, claiming that the "women's eyes follow him".
  • Genre Savvy: The Buntings are quick to suss out the identity of their lodger, and the subsequent drama comes from them coping with the situation.
  • He-Man Woman Hater: Mrs. Bunting notices early on that Mr. Sleuth obsessively reads the most misogynist passages of the Bible.
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  • Meaningful Name: The lodger gives his name as "Mr. Sleuth". The story is about the Buntings' accidentally sleuthing out his identity.
  • Oh, Crap!: At one point the Buntings inadvertently go out to run errands at the same time. Upon seeing each other in the street they realize they just left their daughter alone with their lodger.
  • Selective Obliviousness: The Buntings deliberately turn a blind eye to Mr. Sleuth's odd behavior, such as going out at odd hours, burning his clothes, coming home with blood on his jacket...
  • Victim Blaming: Mrs. Bunting does this at one point when Mr. Bunting discusses the latest "Avenger" killing, presumably to assuage her guilt about hosting her murderer under her roof.

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