October 1862 Millais wrote to the Dalziels: ‘Here at last is another Parable & another is in hand this week. The quality of the work speaks for itself and I need not tell you to cut it with all your might... I have done the vine elaborately from nature for the next Parable the labourers in the Vineyard who kill the heir.’
The vine twisted around the neck of the husbandman’s heir shows the lengths Millais went to in order to produce an accurate description of nature. The dead bird and toad in the right foreground enhance the sense of evil.