Poison by Roald Dahl


Discover the enthralling world of Roald Dahl’s ‘Poison,’ a captivating tale filled with suspense and unexpected twists. Published in 1950, this short story is set in colonial India during British rule and follows the gripping journey of Harry Pope, the main character. When Harry claims to have a venomous snake, a krait, on his stomach, his friend Timber reaches out to the local doctor, Dr. Ganderbai, for help. What ensues is a series of attempts by Dr. Ganderbai to remove the snake, only to reveal that there was no snake to begin with. ‘Poison’ delves into themes of deception and racism, as Harry’s reactions towards Dr. Ganderbai highlight the prejudices of the time. The story has also been adapted across various media platforms, including radio, television, and film.

Key Takeaways:

  • ‘Poison’ is a short story by Roald Dahl set in colonial India during British rule.
  • The story revolves around Harry Pope, who claims to have a venomous snake on his stomach.
  • Dr. Ganderbai, a local doctor, is called in to help remove the snake, leading to surprising revelations.
  • ‘Poison’ explores themes of deception and racism, showcasing the prejudices of the era.
  • The story has been adapted for different media platforms, such as radio, television, and film.

About Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl, a renowned writer known for his captivating storytelling, penned the thrilling short story ‘Poison’ in 1950. Born in Wales in 1916, Dahl led a fascinating life that greatly influenced his work. His writing career began in the 1940s, and he went on to create some of the most beloved children’s books of all time, such as ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ and ‘Matilda.’

Dahl’s unique style combined dark humor, vivid imagination, and unexpected plot twists, captivating readers of all ages. His ability to create compelling characters and craft engaging narratives made him one of the most celebrated authors of the 20th century.

Throughout his career, Dahl received numerous accolades and awards for his contributions to literature. His stories, including ‘Poison,’ continue to be cherished by readers worldwide. Dahl’s remarkable storytelling talent and ability to captivate audiences make him a true literary icon.

Born Died Notable Works
September 13, 1916 November 23, 1990 ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,’ ‘Matilda,’ ‘The BFG’

Synopsis of Poison

Set against the backdrop of colonial India, ‘Poison’ tells the gripping tale of Harry Pope and a venomous snake that may or may not be on his stomach. First published in 1950, this short story by acclaimed author Roald Dahl takes readers on a suspenseful journey filled with unexpected twists and turns.

The story begins with Harry Pope, who claims to have been bitten by a deadly krait, a highly venomous snake. Fearing for his life, Harry’s friend Timber urgently calls upon the expertise of Dr. Ganderbai, a local doctor known for his skills in handling snakebites. Dr. Ganderbai arrives promptly and attempts various methods to remove the snake, including applying a tourniquet and sucking out the venom, as Timber watches anxiously.

As the narrative unfolds, it becomes clear that there is more to the story than meets the eye. Dahl skillfully weaves a tale of deception and intricate human emotions, delving into the prejudices and biases that exist within society. The relationship between Harry and Dr. Ganderbai, who is of Indian descent, exposes the underlying racism prevalent during the era of British rule in India.

‘Poison’ has captivated audiences not only through its original publication but also through its adaptations across different media platforms. The story has been brought to life on radio, television, and film, allowing fans to experience the suspense and tension in varied formats. Dahl’s distinctive writing style, characterized by his ability to engage readers with unexpected plot twists, continues to resonate with audiences, cementing ‘Poison’ as one of his most enduring works.

Table: Adaptations of Poison

Medium Year Notes
Radio 1951 First adaptation featuring voice actors bringing the story to life.
Television 1971 A notable adaptation with visual storytelling.
Film 2001 A cinematic interpretation that further enhances the suspense and tension.

Main Characters in Poison

Meet the intriguing characters at the heart of “Poison,” such as Harry Pope, Timber, and Dr. Ganderbai, who play vital roles in the unfolding story.

Harry Pope is the central character in “Poison.” He claims to have a venomous snake, a krait, on his stomach, which creates a sense of suspense and danger throughout the narrative. Harry’s fear and desperation drive the plot forward as he grapples with the perceived threat and becomes increasingly volatile.

Timber, Harry’s friend, is the one who calls Dr. Ganderbai, seeking assistance in removing the snake. Timber’s loyalty and concern for Harry’s well-being are key to the unfolding events. He provides a contrasting perspective to Harry’s intense emotions, acting as a calm and rational presence.

Dr. Ganderbai is the local doctor who arrives to help Harry. He is compassionate and dedicated to his profession, trying various methods to remove the snake. However, as the story progresses, it becomes clear that deception and racism are also at play. Dr. Ganderbai’s character challenges the prejudices of the time, highlighting the theme of racial tension.

Overall, these characters contribute to the suspenseful atmosphere and thought-provoking themes explored in “Poison.” Their interactions and motivations drive the narrative forward, ultimately leading to a surprising twist that leaves readers questioning the nature of truth and perception.

Character Description
Harry Pope The main character who claims to have a snake on his stomach
Timber Harry’s friend who seeks help for him
Dr. Ganderbai The local doctor who attempts to remove the snake

Themes Explored in Poison

Dive into the thought-provoking themes of deception and racism that Roald Dahl skillfully weaves into the fabric of ‘Poison.’ Set against the backdrop of colonial India during British rule, Dahl presents a gripping tale that explores the darker aspects of human nature.

Deception is a central theme in ‘Poison,’ as the story unfolds with a series of unexpected twists and turns. From Harry Pope’s initial claim of a venomous snake on his stomach to the dramatic revelation that there was never a snake at all, Dahl cunningly plays with the readers’ perceptions, blurring the lines between truth and fiction. This theme invites us to question the authenticity of our own beliefs and the impact such deceptions can have on our lives.

“The story unfolds with a series of unexpected twists and turns.”

Racism is another prominent theme in ‘Poison,’ as the tension between Harry Pope and Dr. Ganderbai intensifies throughout the story. Harry’s derogatory remarks towards Dr. Ganderbai, a respected Indian doctor, highlight the prevalent racism during that era. This aspect of the story serves as a reflection of the social prejudices ingrained in society, prompting readers to reflect on the destructive consequences of discrimination.

Roald Dahl’s ‘Poison’ remains a thought-provoking piece of literature that delves into the complexities of human behavior. Through its exploration of deception and racism, the story challenges readers’ perceptions and prompts introspection. Dahl’s masterful storytelling and his ability to create intense suspense make ‘Poison’ a captivating read that continues to resonate with audiences across different mediums.

Themes Summary
Deception Explores the blurred lines between truth and fiction through unexpected twists and turns.
Racism Sheds light on prevalent racism through the tension and derogatory remarks between the characters.

Adaptations of Poison

Discover the enduring popularity of “Poison” through its adaptations for radio, television, and film, reaching audiences across different mediums. Roald Dahl’s captivating short story has been brought to life in various ways, allowing audiences to experience the suspenseful narrative and intriguing characters in new and exciting ways.

In the world of radio, “Poison” has been adapted into gripping audio dramas that transport listeners into the heart of the story. Through the power of sound effects and voice acting, the tension and atmosphere of the original text are expertly recreated, immersing the audience in the harrowing predicament of Harry Pope and the mysterious snake.

Television adaptations of “Poison” have also captivated audiences, bringing the vivid descriptions and thrilling plot to the screen. With visually stunning settings and talented actors, these adaptations provide a visual feast for viewers, allowing them to witness the suspense unfold and experience the story in a whole new light.

Adaptation Medium
“Poison” Radio Drama Radio
“Poison” Television Series Television

Additionally, “Poison” has made its way to the big screen with thrilling film adaptations. These cinematic renditions of the story allow audiences to witness the gripping events unfold on a grand scale, with stunning visuals and powerful performances. From the edge-of-your-seat suspense to the thought-provoking themes, these film adaptations bring a new dimension to the world of “Poison.”

Roald Dahl’s Writing Style

Roald Dahl’s unique writing style, characterized by suspense and vivid imagery, enhances the gripping storytelling of ‘Poison.’ His ability to craft a narrative filled with unexpected twists and turns keeps readers on the edge of their seats, eagerly flipping through the pages to discover what happens next.

Dahl’s proficiency in creating suspense is evident throughout ‘Poison.’ He expertly builds tension, using descriptive language to paint a vivid picture in the reader’s mind. Each sentence is meticulously crafted, drawing attention to specific details that heighten the sense of anticipation. For example, when describing Harry Pope’s claim of a snake on his stomach, Dahl writes, “There it was, lying half on and half off my stomach, its long, flat body and small head outlined against my white shirt.” This evocative imagery not only engages the reader’s senses but also intensifies the suspense surrounding the story’s central mystery.

In addition to suspense, Dahl’s writing style is characterized by its dark humor and biting satire. Through his witty and often sardonic prose, he skillfully tackles complex themes and social issues. In ‘Poison,’ Dahl explores the theme of racism as Harry Pope’s prejudice towards Dr. Ganderbai becomes apparent. Through clever dialogue and sharp observations, Dahl exposes the flaws and biases of his characters, challenging readers to reflect on their own prejudices.

Dahl’s Masterful Storytelling Techniques

Dahl’s mastery over storytelling is further exemplified in ‘Poison’ through the use of narrative devices such as foreshadowing and unreliable narration. He skillfully plants subtle clues throughout the story, leading readers to question what they believe to be true. This creates a sense of intrigue and compels readers to closely analyze each word, seeking hidden meanings and revelations.

Advantages Disadvantages
Dahl’s writing style captivates readers, keeping them engrossed in the story. Some readers may find Dahl’s dark humor and satire unsettling.
The use of suspense and vivid imagery enhances the overall reading experience. The story’s exploration of racism may be uncomfortable for some readers.
Dahl’s clever storytelling techniques, such as foreshadowing, create a sense of anticipation. The unreliable narration may leave readers questioning the validity of the events.

Reception and Legacy of Poison

Explore the lasting impact of ‘Poison’ and how it continues to resonate with readers, earning its place as a notable addition to Roald Dahl’s body of work. Since its publication in 1950, ‘Poison’ has garnered critical acclaim for its suspenseful narrative, unexpected twists, and exploration of complex themes.

The reception of ‘Poison’ has been overwhelmingly positive, with readers and critics alike praising Dahl’s masterful storytelling and ability to captivate audiences from start to finish. The story’s cleverly crafted plot, set in colonial India during British rule, provides a backdrop for Dahl to delve into the themes of deception and racism.

One of the standout features of ‘Poison’ is the rich characterization of its main characters, particularly Harry Pope, Timber, and Dr. Ganderbai. Their interactions and the tensions that arise throughout the story add depth and complexity to the narrative, further enhancing the reader’s engagement.

In addition to its literary success, ‘Poison’ has enjoyed adaptations across various media platforms. From radio to television to film, Dahl’s gripping tale has been brought to life, capturing the attention of audiences in new and exciting ways.

Adaptations of ‘Poison’

Roald Dahl’s unique writing style, characterized by a blend of dark humor and vivid imagery, lends itself perfectly to the narrative of ‘Poison.’ His ability to create suspense and maintain a sense of unease keeps readers invested in the story, eager to uncover the truth behind Harry Pope’s claims.

Legacy of ‘Poison’

Today, ‘Poison’ stands as a testament to Roald Dahl’s literary genius and his ability to craft compelling tales that leave a lasting impact on readers. Its exploration of themes, memorable characters, and unexpected twists make it a timeless addition to Dahl’s repertoire.

As fans continue to discover and enjoy ‘Poison,’ its legacy remains strong, solidifying its place as a treasured work in the world of literature. With its engaging narrative and thought-provoking themes, ‘Poison’ has the potential to captivate readers for generations to come.


In conclusion, ‘Poison’ by Roald Dahl remains a compelling and suspenseful story that captivates readers, leaving them eager for a potential Netflix adaptation. First published in 1950, this short story takes place in colonial India during British rule and centers around the protagonist, Harry Pope, and his claim of a venomous snake on his stomach.

Throughout the narrative, Dahl masterfully builds suspense, keeping readers on the edge of their seats as they delve into the world of deception and racism. As the story unfolds, we witness the strained relationship between Harry and Dr. Ganderbai, the local doctor called upon to remove the snake. Dahl’s writing style, characterized by vivid descriptions and unexpected twists, heightens the tension and adds to the story’s allure.

‘Poison’ has garnered widespread acclaim, leading to its adaptation across various media platforms. The story has been brought to life on the radio, television, and film, further solidifying its status as a timeless classic. Its exploration of themes such as deception and racism resonates with readers and highlights the enduring relevance of Dahl’s work.

As fans of Roald Dahl eagerly await the possibility of a ‘Poison’ adaptation on Netflix, it is clear that this captivating tale continues to captivate audiences with its suspenseful plot, intriguing characters, and thought-provoking themes. Whether read in its original form or experienced through its adaptations, ‘Poison’ remains a testament to Dahl’s storytelling prowess and his ability to engage readers of all ages.


When was "Poison" by Roald Dahl first published?

“Poison” was first published in 1950.

Where is the story of "Poison" set?

The story is set in India during British rule.

Who are the main characters in "Poison"?

The main characters in “Poison” are Harry Pope, Timber, and Dr. Ganderbai.

What are some of the themes explored in "Poison"?

“Poison” explores themes of deception and racism.

Has "Poison" been adapted for other media platforms?

Yes, “Poison” has been adapted for radio, television, and film.

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