Interpretative Essay On The Lottery By Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson, author of “The Lottery”, writes about the possible negative consequences of blindly continuing and not questioning tradition, and how violent acts can occur in any unexpected time or place. She showcases these ideas and several others by discussing a “lottery” that takes place every year on June 27th, where they draw names for said lottery and narrow it down to one individual, and that one person is stoned to death in order to repay the wrongdoings of the whole town, even if this person is completely innocent. Jackson writes to showcase the insanity behind the mindset of killing someone based on something they have absolutely no control over, in order to abolish the belief that women and people of color were inferior during her lifetime, from 1919 to 1965.
Jackson writes for an audience of anyone from as young as middle school students to college students, since there is a lesson to be learned by people of all ages in “The Lottery”. Jackson begins a happy setting where everyone is gathered to draw people in to the story, and then exposes them to the harsh reality after they are already drawn in. She uses adjectives such as “clear and sunny”, “warmth”, and describes the “flowers blossoming profusely”, and “the grass was richly green”.
These descriptive terms are used to set the tone as a happy one in order to entice people into listening to what she has to say. She uses this strategy to show how these social issues can look to outsiders until it is too late. Often with social issues, especially during Jackson’s lifetime what with discrimination against sex and race, nothing was done about these issues until the damage was virtually irreverrsible. After the initial tone of happiness and wellness is established, Jackson turns to the intensity of drawing for the lottery and ignites the reader’s curiosity of what will happen to the “winner”. She uses our curiosity to keep us engaged in the reading and to introduce the negative consequences that could be involved in not questioning tradition. On page 180, beginning at line 30, the men of the town discuss how many other towns are doing away with “the lottery”. They talk of how ridiculous it is that these other towns would even dare question tradition. They think that since it has always been that way, that it should always remain that way, even if it is unethical. This is very similar to the mindset on civil rights in Jackson’s time. People believed that since people of color had always been treated that way, that they should continue to be treated that way, even though they had no control over the color of their skin.
To close the story, Jackson lets us infer that the “winner” of the “lottery” is stoned to death for no reason other than the fact that they randomly drew the piece of paper with the black dot on it from the black box. The passage discusses the townspeople and how each of them carried at least one stone to hit the woman, even the children. This furthers the idea that people are hurt or discriminated against for no reason other than the fact that they happened to be born with a certain quality, or in this case, happened to be the one person who drew this marked piece of paper. This also introduces the idea that unnecessary violence against a person or a group of people can arise at any time, and place, and for any reason.
“The Lottery” could be interpreted in many different ways, but given the time that Jackson lived, and the themes in the story, it is most likely that she intended for it to be a reflection of the time that she lived in. People were hurt for reasons that could not be helped by anyone and this story gives a very blunt example of that. “The Lottery” shows the absurdity of the mindset held by many people back then. Jackson’s strategies were very effective in that her message was effectively written and received. She used a fictional story to convey the message she was trying to get across, and did so very effectively.
Literary Essay on the Lottery by Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson, establisher of the Shirley Jackson Awards and obtainer of her degree from Syracuse University where she was also an early fictional editor for the campus magazine, in her short story “The Lottery” (1948) claims that a village, ages ago, used the lottery’s type of selection as a way to choose one citizen to be annually stoned to death by the other citizens as a sacrifice for the crops. Jackson develops her argument by explaining the day and how usual this is for the village without coming completely out and stating that the lottery is used for murder not money. She writes to draw attention to the way the world holds onto outdated traditions without having any real sense of the meanings in order to give some clarification to some of these “traditions” we follow.
Jackson’s writing is intended for an audience of adults starting at ages 18 based off of her many sophisticated topics and writing styles. Jackson begins by vividly describing the beginning of the day while including details letting the audience know that today is a special day in the village. She specifically states the time of day, “morning of June 27th”, and continues by giving an evocative elucidation of the morning. Her vivid account of the scenery continues with, “was clear and sunny, with fresh warmth of a summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green”. Jackson proceeded to illustrate the picture of a celebration by stating, “The people of the village began to gather in the square, between the post office and the bank, around ten o’clock”. These pictorial samples give her story a great sense of surprise seeming as how they leave you hanging on the real central idea of the story. After the brief but vivid description of the day, Jackson moves to introduce the audience to the citizens of the town, while also introducing the main topic, the town’s lottery.
According to paragraph, “The children assembled first, of course”, and Jackson proceeds to explain the children’s school day. The introduction continues with introducing the adults, some by name, such as “Bobby Martin”, “Harry Jones”, “Dickie Delacriox”, etc. The lottery was introduced based off of characteristics not really its definition as stated, “The lottery was conducted… by Mr. Summers. The original paraphernalia for the lottery – is – the black box resting on the stool”. These introductions continue the process of unfolding the central idea of the story by introducing all the most important details. To close the essay, Jackson finally acknowledged the full central idea of her story. Ms. Jackson ultimately explained the real meaning of the lottery in their time and village. She continues through the passages telling how people became nervous through the pulling of names. Its real meaning is finally stated in the last few paragraphs, “Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual…, they remembered to use stones. Tessie Hutchinson was in the center… as she held her hands out desperately as villagers moved in on her. A stone hit her on the side of the head, and they were upon her”. These obligatory pieces of information made present in the story are the key statements needed to create the central objective of the story.
Overall, it may be said that Shirley Jackson wrote her short story “The Lottery” (1948) to educate her audience on the possible back history of a worldwide tradition known as “The Lottery”. All exemplars of the villages vivid detail, the citizens and their routines, and the lottery stated in the passage were all perfectly placed based off of her central reasoning for this essay. These main ideas were overly effective in assisting with the purpose of this passage in its entirety. For her audience, Jackson’s credibility to write on the genre and topic is exceptional, since she has a long history of writing with a lot of assisting credentials behind her.
Essay on Different Aspects of Human Nature in the Lottery by Shirley Jackson
The dystopian story is a kind of science fiction. It always sets up in a “what if” society that the author pushed one or more social problems to an extreme condition. ‘The Lottery’ was written by Shirley Jackson and it was first issued in 1948. At that time WWII had just ended, it had uncovered the cruelty and violence that hidden in humanity 27 years after the Great War. Shirley Jackson pointed out and discussed how humanity treated violence in this sort of story. I will be indicating and arguing about three different human natures and why they are important to think about. Human is undeniable self-preservation to the degree of our lives. A few billion years ago, our ancestors, Homo sapiens, massacre all other human species made us the overlord of this planet. Like what Charles Robert Darwin said, we are the “survival of the fittest”. Human is always willing to sacrifice others to save themselves because all the animals do to survive. In ‘The Lottery’ after Bill Hutchinson got the paper with the dot on it, Tessie event wants her daughters to draw, who had married and should draw with their husbands, to increase her chance of living. Tessie was quite enjoyed in the lottery at first. However, she only stood up to protest ‘It isn’t fair, it isn’t right’ because she is the one who’s affected. It was clearly too late then.
But how could other villager give up the opportunity to save themselves from sacrifice? So, they reminded Tessie “all of us took the same chance”. Jackson gave her a point of view about human’s self-preservation in this text, that people would accept violence or other actions as long as it doesn’t harm themselves directly. It is important to think about our humanity. It helps us to know better and the real selves, although sometimes human nature could be cruel and dreadful. This dystopian story had also warned us what would happen if we don’t have the right control to our self-preservation, and how terrible it could be. Our society has an unwritten rule that is many against the few or we can say the minority is subordinate to the majority. I think it is human nature to conform to the big flow. We feel more secure when we are with the most. Therefore, people sometimes seem forgot to question, that is the majority always the truth? In ‘The Lottery’, the moment that Tessie had been “marked” as different, the villagers that she had lived with for most of her life attacked her. There must be someone who didn’t want to commit destruction of Tessie. Because they are the minority in that condition, if they stand out, they are very likely to be rejected by society.
Along with other villagers’ encouragement, like Old Man Warner urges them by saying “Come on, come on, everyone.” No one wants to stay out of crime and violence. Jackson suggested to us that we should pay attention to those traditions are continuing only because everyone fears standing up to against the majority. She also suggested us not to fear by non-conformity, because it could push people to do things that are immoral. It is important because when it becomes a unified perception of society it could become another ‘The Lottery’. In real life, Nazi Germany had used conformity to eliminate the Jews because it is for the “goods” of the majority.
Those two points had led to my last idea, are we inherently violent as a part of human nature? We were evolved from animals, this means we must have some violent written in genes. Yet, I think this is something that can be controlled by education and establishing correct values at childhood. But in ‘The Lottery’ it has been completely opposite. Children were taught it’s okay to stone someone to death for the majority’s benefits. Children were looking forward to “the lottery” although they didn’t even know why adults do that, “Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones, and the other boys soon followed his example, selecting the smoothest and roundest stones”. They chose “the smoothest and roundest stones” so it can take longer but more surfers to the scapegoat, Tessie. Even Davy, Tessie’s little boy had been given a few pebbles to kill his mother. These kids didn’t receive the right values in their childhood. That means they might use violence constantly to solve problems in their lives, as long as it has the benefit to them.
Jackson wanted to express that human’s violent nature can be refrain if we educate people, especially children, and have correct values in society. It is important to know because it is happening nowadays. In 2009 Taliban trained children as their bombers and soldiers. They used the name of religion to convince those children and trained those kids 16 hours a day for both physical and ideological. Those kids had been brainwashed and do not have correct values. They uphold violence. I felt this action is highly consistent with the lottery or even above that, cause those kids were even willing to sacrifice themselves. Jackson had issued a statement about her purpose in writing ‘The Lottery’, “I suppose, I hoped, by setting a particularly brutal ancient rite in the present and in my own village to shock the story’s readers with a graphic dramatization of the pointless violence and general inhumanity in their own lives.” From human’s self-preservation, conformity and inherently violent genes’ point of view to look at the society we are living now, it’s not far away from ‘The Lottery’. Just about one month ago Brunei introduced death by stoning, which is such an “ancient rite”, as punishment for gay sex. I think it is time to have some changes in our world and society. We need to put more efforts to extend and educate our society about the correct values. We can also use the power of public opinions to influence those countries to make a change in their laws.
In conclusion, ‘The Lottery’ had a deep and interesting discussion on three different aspects of human nature. Human is self-preservation, we are willing to sacrifice others for other own benefits, without it I can’t even sit here writing this easy today. However, we need to control it sometimes. It is also human nature to conform, but if you disagree with it stand out and express your idea. Don’t be fearful to be the minority, because the majority is not always right. We have inherently violent, with the right education, it can be controlled. Violence is always not the best way to solve problems. It is important to think about because it has relevance to our society if we don’t take any action we are not far away from ‘The Lottery’.
Essay on the Purpose of the Lottery by Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson, well known for her 200 plus short stories, 6 novels, and 2 memoirs was a very profound author, one of her most popular short stories being “The Lottery” (1948) enlightens us of how some people can commit evil acts towards their peers showing no remorse and just to keep a tradition going. Her argument is supported throughout the story because multiples acts are put on to show about how important this tradition is to them. Shirley wrote this to show how far people would go to keep a tradition going. The audience Jackson writes for is teenagers and adults, but not readers to young to learn about death.
When you think of winning a lottery most people think of winning a grand prize, but in this case it is the total opposite and can end very drastically. It has no designated nor positive purpose and all throughout the short story instead of wanting to end the lottery everyone wants to keep it a tradition. Old Man Warner and other characters from the short story at many points state that the lottery should not be put off even though in some places it is. When Warner found out about this his first words were, “Pack of fools” he also says, “Listening to the young folks, nothing’s good enough for them.” This gives off the perception that the author believes that there is no problem in harming innocent people. Jackson opens the story by showing that this ritual is practiced by everyone in town and has been going on for decades now. The story shows how the children of the town were just as much a part of the ritual as everyone else.
Once they had gotten out of school “Bobby Martin gathered some of the smoothest and roundest rocks and his peers proceed to do the same” as if they had been excitedly waiting for this day to come. Equally important, Old Man Warner continuously talks about how he has survived the lottery for 77 years, this goes to show how long this ritual has been in existence and also how many years he has survived it. It is very disturbing knowing that even children at younger ages participated in these brutal acts. To say nothing of it seems as though in this small village every family is for themselves. As the story continues to escalate and the lottery starts names are drawn and it has come down to the Hutchinson family Tessie, wife of Bill Hutchinson starts to act out of control in fear of knowing that either or husband or one of her children are about to be stoned to death. Her husband acts out against his wife telling her “shut up” when she was trying to defend for him once she had found out that her family’s name was the chosen one. In the end, Tessie ends up being the chosen one. Everyone gathers their stones as they begin to stone Tessie, including some of the women she was close with within the village.
Mrs. Delacroix and Tessie had an entire conversation before the lottery had begun, but in the end, Mrs. Declacroix ended up playing a part in the stoning of Tessie. In the text, it states that “Mrs. Delacroix selected a stone so large that she had to pick it up with both hands” this just goes to show that people cannot be trusted because even your own friends will turn their back against one another. Both quotes are examples of direct evidence, meaning it requires no justification and the evidence alone is enough to prove the statement. Your closest friends can sometimes be one’s worst enemy and you may never know. All in all crime or hatred ness should not be committed upon by any human being for no reason. Throughout the short story, Jackson shows how a tradition is so important in this village that they are willing to go to whatever extent possible to keep it alive. This is commonly known as a sociopath and many of the people in the village are direct examples of just that. Violence should never be the key especially when there has been no crime committed.
Rhethorical Essay On ‘The Lottery’ By Shirley Jackson
‘The Lottery’ by Shirley Jackson is an account of an irregular town trapped in a snare of continually following custom, in any event, when it isn’t to their greatest advantage. Jackson utilizes images all through the story that identify with the general topic. This helps the peruser unmistakably comprehend her fundamental message. Jackson uses setting, tone and images to pass on a subject to her group of spectators. By doing so she makes huge associations with the subject utilizing elderly person Warner and the black box as models. The setting and tone in ‘The Lottery’ are significant perspectives that give the peruser a feeling of where they are and a general sentiment of what the story ought to resemble.
Toward the beginning, Jackson is unmistakable in depicting the setting of her story. She says ‘The morning of June 27th was clear and bright, with the new warmth of a full summer day’. Envisioning this places the peruser in a spot that appears to be inviting. It is the beginning of summer and everything is preparing for a fresh start. This is deceiving in light of the fact that Jackson gives her group of spectators the feeling this is a typical town that approaches their everyday lives similarly as some other town would. In any case, this isn’t the situation when it is later uncovered that it is an end as opposed to a fresh start in light of the fact that the victor of the lottery is battered to the point of death. The tone of the story rapidly changes once the peruser acknowledges what the purpose of the lottery truly is. There is something extremely shrouded and unusual about this town that leaves the peruser with numerous inquiries regarding why it is how it is, and how it got the opportunity to be this way. Elderly person Warner identifies with this as he is the most seasoned man around the local area. He symbolizes the custom in this strange custom the townspeople share in.
Elderly person Warner assumes a key job in Jackson’s story ‘The Lottery’, as he is one of the principle images. Mr. Warner is the most seasoned man around the local area and has partaken in seventy-seven lotteries. He speaks to the custom of the lottery in his town. The more youthful ages nearby reveal to him that different spots have quit holding lotteries. He thinks they are a ‘Pack of insane blockheads’ for needing to stop the lottery. He accepts by resigning the custom that ‘They’ll be needing to return to living in caverns’. As indicated by Mr. Warner, the lottery is the main thing keeping society stable. As a man of superstition he imagines that a human penance is the main legitimate response for protecting that their harvests are great, found in the line ‘Lottery in June, corn be overwhelming soon’. Mr. Warner acknowledges the status quo in light of the fact that this is the manner in which they have consistently been. Changing convention would be lamentable in his eyes.
The other primary image in ‘The Lottery’ is the black box. In contrast to elderly person Warner, the discovery speaks to the nonappearance of convention. This is on the grounds that the case itself has not been passed down, rather it has just been the thoughts and customs that were gone through ages. Just bits of the first box remain. In the start of the lottery the locals utilized wood chips rather than paper. Throughout the years the little subtleties of the lottery have been lost and all that remaining parts is its genuine aim. The residents are indiscriminately following a custom that has lost the vast majority of the convention, and just holding lotteries essentially in light of the fact that there has consistently been one. The topic in this short story is that aimlessly following convention can be exceptionally hazardous. This is appeared to the peruser through the odd custom of killing honest individuals since convention says as much. The town has turned out to be so drenched in this custom that they neglect to see the harm it is making in their general public. Elderly person Warner is an ideal case of this in light of the fact that in his eyes there is nothing amiss with the convention of the lottery. He is so dedicated to the custom that he accepts the town will come back to a significantly more crude time on the off chance that they quit holding lotteries. This is unexpected on the grounds that the custom they are following has been gone down through ages, the possibility of human penance for accomplishment in their yields is an exceptionally crude perspective. Mr. Warner doesn’t scrutinize this custom and would effectively murder somebody essentially in light of the fact that the convention of the lottery is all the avocation he needs. The black box can likewise be identified with this since it supposedly holds exceptionally customary qualities, however as a general rule it is the inverse.
The container is self-destructing from long stretches of utilization and is just produced using a bit of the first black box. The residents base their dependability with the case on simply stories that it is produced using bits of the bygone one. This demonstrates the townspeople are indiscriminately following convention since it has consistently been done along these lines. All through the story the peruser can unmistakably perceive how Jackson uses setting, tone, and images to make an exceptionally engaging story. The setting and tone in ‘The Lottery’ is altogether different than most. She fools the peruser into believing that the town and town individuals she portrays are typical, when in all actuality this isn’t valid. The peruser later gets some answers concerning the abnormal custom this town rehearses and the whole tone of the story changes. There are two principle images in this story, one being elderly person Warner, and the second being the black box. Both of these images give the peruser a feeling of convention, with Mr. Warner not having any desire to stop the lottery, and with the discovery being just an image. Jackson leaves her group of spectators with an extraordinary topic that can be applied to any general public and whenever period.
Essay On How Psychology Influences Theme In The Lottery By Shirley Jackson
Novelist, short story writer, and nonfiction writer, Shirley Jackson was an American gothic horror fiction author. She was best known for her short story “The Lottery,” a classic tale originally published in The New Yorker. A story on grotesque prejudice hidden in ordinary life, “The Lottery” established Jackson’s central themes that would carry on throughout her work. Jackson’s stories exemplify society’s universal evil, despair, and madness that lie just below the surface of ordinary life, blurring the line between reality and fiction. With this, comes her ability to transform and shock her reader, manipulating their expectations of her work and the world around them.
The psychological lens is the optimal critical lens to use when analyzing Shirley Jackson’s short stories. Based in the principles of Sigmund Freud, Austrian neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis, psychological critique examines the patterns of personality, virtues, and behavior in an author and their characters. Critics focus on not only the mind of the characters, but the actions and choices they make in correspondence to the society around them. In his contemporary literary criticism of Jackson, Granville Hicks, American novelist and literary critic, states in “The Nightmare in Reality,” “well-informed about the views of Freudians and of other schools of psychology, Miss Jackson was never interested in psychological theories for their own sake but only for the literary use she could make of them”. By, using psychological theory as a tool of in her work, Jackson repeatedly bases her societies and characters bases in recognizable patterns of human behavior and universal human problems. By writing her fiction like psychological study, Jackson is able develop character and plot in a much more realistic and meaningful way. If Jackson was fond of using psychological theory as a tool of writing, then looking at her work as a form of psychological inquiry is most effective.
One common theme displayed in many of Jackson’s stories is the concept of a dream, or more specifically, the conflict of reality vs. imagination. In Freud’s principles, the “dream,” or in Jackson’s case commonly the “nightmare,” contains symbolic clues to the subconscious motives and themes of the self. Psychological inquiry is an attempt to study the human nature and its behavior from an outside perspective, a perspective the subject is not fully aware of. Jackson’s work is a perfect reflection of this inquiry. As Elizabeth Janeway states in a New York Times Book Review of Jackson, “Jackson’s fantasy is of the other sort. She begins with reality and her metaphors and analogies always reach out from a living center… In her stories, the boundary between the world and the dream shifts and varies; the dream leaks through and colors reality”. With this, comes Jackson’s gift: She does not create a world of fiction and terror, but rather discovers, or inquires, the existence of terror and madness in the ordinary world. This is most clearly seen in her classic American short story, “The Lottery.” Set in present day, “The Lottery” describes a perfectly ordinary town the environment is comforting and friendly, and as the people of the town begin to gather, the atmosphere is calm, almost carnival-like. Boys collect and stones as girls chat and gossip together. “The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green. The people of the village began to gather in the square…Soon the men began to gather. surveying their own children, speaking of planting and rain, tractors and taxes… their jokes were quiet and they smiled rather than laughed…”.
The village Jackson creates represents an ideal, happy, American community. Friendship, trust, and goodwill are evident everywhere in its members. Like many of Jackson’s stories, however, happiness and perfection is not all what it seems. To maintain paradise, the good citizens must ritually sacrifice one of their members every year by stoning them to death. Barbarism like this is carried out by the lottery every year: One family is chosen by lot, and within that family one person. Here is where the reader begins to see Jackson’s psychological horror. The event is setup to be normal routine, and in tradition by the description Jacksons make and the dialogue of the characters. This was something the villagers repeated every near, thus the reader would suspect nothing out of the ordinary. As Jackson writes, “the lottery was conducted – as were the square dances, the teen club, the Halloween program – by Mr. Summers. who had time and energy to devote to civic activities…”. By establishing a happy, perfect, and civic atmosphere, Jackson tricks her readers by luring them into a facade of ordinary life. They find comfort in what seems like an ideal friendly community. This aspect of Jackson’s writing allows her to blur the line between reality and fiction. By the end of the story, however, the reality the reader has connected to is rooted in violence and prejudice. In psychological critique, characters are often analyzed to portray real life counterparts. Jackson takes advantage of this phenomenon: the stonings are committed by the ordinary of the town, what Jackson had previously perceived as pleasant, often good, people. Yet, without hesitation, they turn away their facade and indulge in an act of such violence and cruelty. Their nature has been sanctioned by tradition and superstition, and thus their judgment of right vs. wrong has been clouded.
In “The Lottery,” Jackson works within the idea of possibly. She continuously asks the questions in her fiction, What can society, the ordinary world, be capable of? What are human beings capable of? What cruelty lies beneath the surface of reality? Stories like “The Lottery” make the reader question the society around themselves. Acting as a base of psychological inquiry, “The Lottery” allows the reader to analyze how a small, ideal, and friendly town could be rooted in such a barbaric tradition. Her stories, again and again, strive to illustrate these details: what humanity could be, and the madness that lies just below the surface of reality. Jackson’s fiction, along with reflecting analytical technique, is also concerned with the psychology of groups and society. Often, the decisions and outcomes of her stories are driven by mob mentality, where people are influenced by their peers and surrounding society to adopt certain behaviors. Treating society as its own character, psychological criticism can focus on the motives, desires, and conflicts of a specific group, rather than an individual. As stated in Carol Cleveland’s critical review, Shirley Jackson, “in Jackson’s world, the guilty are not greedy or crazy individuals, but society itself acting collectively and purposefully, like a slightly preoccupied lynch mob”. Consider again, Jackson’s “The Lottery.” In “The Lottery,” the final moments of the story reveal the “winner” is stoned by the rest of the village. The citizens of the town commit murder without hesitation or question. Murder has been burned into their tradition for centuries, and they abide to like, like everyone else does, and everyone else has done for centuries. This is a direct example of mob mentality. Cleveland continues in her critique, ““Crime, even murder, is constantly being committed in her world, but there is usually no one innocent enough to bring the guilty to justice”. Everyone in Jackson’s fiction town is equally responsible for the story’s horror, as every individual contributes in the stoning, not even once second guessing their actions, turning a blind eye to mercy and morality.
Consequently, there is no reason to bring the guilty to justice. In “The Lottery,” the society portrayed outlaws any sense that what the village is doing is wrong. The crimes committed are not illegal or wrong in the town, because society does not consider them illegal. The old saying about the event is, “Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon”. In the story, society murders literary, but is justified by the mob mentality in the town: the expense of the few will bring prosperity for the many. With every sacrifice in the summer comes a successful harvest in the future. At the end of the story, Jackson writes, “although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box, they still remembered to use stones. The pile of stones the boys had made earlier was ready…Tessie Hutchinson was in the center of a cleared space by now, and she held her hands out desperately as the villagers moved in on her…”. Tessie Hutchinson’s last words are “It isn’t fair, it isn’t right”. Yet, what is about to happen to her is perfectly fair and perfectly right by the logic and mentality of her community that has guided the actions of the town to that moment. It is only when Tessie is forced to imagine the lottery from the victim’s point of view, as she is chosen for sacrifice, that the lottery becomes unfair and immoral. This perspective has been repeatedly avoided by her and the rest of village. Clouded by the fact that sacrifice brings prosperity, “The Lottery’s” society has lost its vision. At the end of the story, Tessie pays the price for this lack of vision, and the complete lack of perspective and sympathy in her community.
Other of Jackson’s stories, like “The Lottery,” also focus on the psychology of society. In Shirley Jackson’s story “Colloquy,” originally published in The New Yorker, Mrs. Arnold, the main protagonist, is driven to see a psychiatrist due to her confusion and shock about the changing world around her. She has lost, and Ms. Arnold states, “A world where a lot of people lived too and they all lived together and things went along like that with no fuss…”. Her psychiatrist attempts to push her to accept “reality” and its changes, as he describes the world having “rapidly disintegrating cultural patterns”. Still, Ms. Arnold refuses to accept the reality around her, and refuses to adapt to the doctor’s disortient world. The story ends with Ms. Arnold leaving the doctors office, yet readers sense the greater price Ms. Arnold will pay for her inability to change. In “Colloquy,” The rest of society’s definition of reality, represented by the doctor’s opinion, will descend her onto a path of loneliness and madness. “Before the doctor could stop her, she walked to the door and opened it. ‘Reality,’ she said, and went out” (Jackson 45). Here, Jackson uses another example of mob mentality, yet in “Colloquy,” society is represents as force that destroys the opinion and reality of those who cannot accept it. John G. Parks states this phenomenon clearly in his critical analysis Chambers of Yearning: Shirley Jackson’s Use of the Gothic: “…the concern of most of Jackson’s fiction…is to reveal and chronicle the outrage…stemming from the violation of the self by a broken world…”. Like many of her stories, the society in “Colloquy,” the external world, limits the internal self. Ms. Arnold has failed to harmoniously accept the changes in society she has observed, and therefore, she will descend into despair.
In contrast to “The Lottery,” Jackson represents society as the reasonable side. To the reader, Ms. Arnold is already portrayed as crazy and mad. Her dialogue is pure gibberish, while the doctor’s statements are based in fact and observation. There, however, a simple problem driving her insanity: She cannot see her internal self reflected in the world, and thus her expectations of world should be are unmet. “Colloquy” illustrates a fundamental problem in human and group psychology: One cannot retrofit the world in their own meanings and expectations, as society is far too complex and collective. Aging, society in Jackson’s stories represents a collective force. It cannot shift to serve one individual’s opinion. As Parks continues in his analysis, “most of Jackson’s protagonists are emotionally violated and must struggle desperately to overcome their estrangement and dislocation, and most of them fail”. At the end of the session, the reader is meant to sympathize with Ms. Arnold. Society has done wrong to her, and readers, being apart of that collective force, feel sorry for Ms. Arnold. The society that they and everyone else has accepted seems distorted in Ms. Arnold’s perspective. But, this problem can be flipped. It is clear that the divide between Ms. Arnold’s reality and the reality that surrounds her has no hope of compromise, due to the fact that she is most likely headed down a path of madness. Nevertheless, because Ms. Arnold is in herself “broken” and unable to change, she is continuing to perpetuate a broken society. Broken people creating a broken world. In this perspective, the madness that Ms. Arnold will descend into is not society’s fault, but the fault of Ms. Arnold herself. Flipping the blame creates a change in psychological study: The motives and virtues of and individual i are the creation of the problems in a society. Not surprisingly, Jackson’s fiction also displays traits in this focus of psychology.
“The Possibility of Evil,” one of Jackson’s many short stories, acts as a psychological study on individual character. Unlike “The Lottery” and “Colloquy,” the psychological lens can be used to study the internal motives and morals hidden in a story’s characters. Miss Adela Strangeworth, the protagonist of “The Possibility of Evil,” lives alone in a house on Pleasant Street in a small town. As Jackson describes, “She knew everyone in town, of course…she had never spent more than a day outside this town in all her long life…”. Like a database, Miss Strangeworth seems to have a backlog in all present things occuring in her town, whether her business or not. Like most of Jackson’s fiction, however, nothing is ever as it seems. Miss Jackson might live in a perfect town, but its perfection comes at a consequence: For a year now, Miss Strangeworth has been sending letters to various townspeople to viciously attack their lives and personalities. After, and without signing her name, she would address each letter, and deliver them at the end the of night. In her eyes, her duty was to alert her town to the “possible evil lurking nearby”. As long as evil the in her unchecked world, it was her duty to expose it. This was Miss Strangeworth’s secret contribution to the town’s happiness and perfection: her private war with the forces of evil. Miss Strangeworth states, “The town where she lived had to be kept clean and sweet, but people everywhere were lustful and evil and degraded, and needed to be watched; the world was so large, and there was only one Strangeworth left in it”. Obsessed with the evil in people and the evil clouding her perfect town, Miss Strangeworth has dedicated life to destroying this evil. At the end of the story, Miss Strangeworth is exposed, due to careless one night during a delivery. When she opens her own mail the next morning, she finds a little letter like the ones she sends. As Miss Strangeworth opens the letter, Jackson writes, “She began to cry silently for the weakness of the world when she read the words”. As John G. Parks states in his critical study of Jackson’s fiction, “The Possibility of Evil”: A Key to Shirley Jackson’s Fiction, “Shirley Jackson reveals a fundamental problem in her fiction, one especially crucial in American culture: the revelation of the imagination that sees evil only out there, and which thus must be smashed at any cost”. Here, the irony of the story is prevalent.
Miss Strangeworth finds that the letter she recieves is wicked, and in her eyes is further proof of the evil in society. Yet, Miss Strangeworth fails to recognize that her own humanity is corroded in her single struggle against evil. As Parks puts it, she is “…corrupted by her own narcissism”. Miss Strangeworth does not understand that by stopping evil, and writing letters, she herself is creating evil. Consequently, this is a paradox: Miss Strangeworth is doing evil in order to further good. The ending of the story brings Miss Strangeworth’s problem full circle. Because she fails to see that what others have done is what she has been creating all this time, it is clear that she is only able to see evil in others, rather than identifying the evil within herself. By failing to recognize this, it is clear that Miss Strangeworth only sees evil as component in others, rather a component within us all: a universal human problem. In “The Possibility of Evil,” Miss Strangeworth has failed to recognize the collective nature of society and human nature. It is not one person’s job to dictate what is wrong and what is wright in others, nor it is one individual’s job to rid the world off evil. It is the collective force and responsibility of society, rather, to recognize the evil within humanity, and accept its ability to invade the commonplace. From Miss Strangeworth’s experience, it is clear that only fighting evil will paradoxically produce more evil, yet she has failed to recognize the component of evil in all humans, and in turn, the evil in herself. As Parks concludes, “…What Shirley Jackson is doing in her fiction is she brings many of her characters…to the edge of the abyss: some fall, some cling desperately to the edge, and only a few find their way to safety”. In her stories, Jackson is psychologically testing her characters, bringing them to their breaking point. In “The Possibility of Evil,” “Colloquy”, and “The Lottery,” Jackson has brought her characters to the very edge of their towns and societies. Their story has been a test of their morals, strength, and willpower. With her work, Jackson has the power to place the minds of her in a constant state of analysis, and they try to discover who has fallen, who has survived, and who is still clinging to any chance of sanity. “…But such are evil’s possibilities”.
Shirley Jackson’s writing, in its most basic construction, is a form of psychological inquiry. As her characters, plot, and settings develop, Jackson attempts to weave reality and ordinary life, blurring the line between what the reader experiences as fiction and reality. This, combined with her use of psychological concepts in individuals and societies, allows Jackson to create the psychological horror she is so widely praised for. The psychological lens therefore is the most effective lens to use when studying her work, as it looks deeply into the motives and actions of characters and groups, something Jackson’s stories like “The Lottery,” “Colloquy,” and “The Possibility of Evil” all express in their protagonists, central themes, and psychological concepts. After publishing “The Lottery” in The New Yorker, Jackson received hundreds of letters expressing people’s disgust and curiosity for her story. The subject of letters spanned from readers asking Jackson to identify the theme, from people asking for directions so they could observe the fictional event. Jackson later noted that the range of response she received reflected the central themes of “The Lottery,” and her short stories: The potential of human moral corruption that lies on the surface of reality. Whether true or false, the vast number of responses seem to confirm the idea that her fiction was based on psychological inquiry in not only her characters, but her readers as well.
Thematic and Literary Analysis of the Lottery by Shirley Jackson
In “The Lottery” Shirley Jackson tells us about a town’s annual tradition. At first all of the people seemed excited and then as the tradition started everyone became anxious at the thought of what will happen. Jackson creates the theme life is chaotic shown through a collection of rocks, a town gathering, and an unexpected ending. Jackson develops the theme life is chaotic through a collection of stones. In the beginning the author describes the children picking up stones. She says “And the other boys soon followed his example, selecting the smoothest and roundest stones.” She is describing how the children are getting excited because they are finding the perfect stones and how eager they become. Jackson describes the energy of the boys when she says “Very small children rolled in the dust.” This shows how there is chaos because of the energy flowing through the children causing them to be energetic. She gives description on the stones and the feeling of the atmosphere being chaotic.
The theme life is chaotic develops with a town gathering. The author describes how the people were acting while gathering. She says “Soon the men began to gather, surveying their own children, speaking of planting and rain, tractors and taxes.” The people especially the men were acting calm while gathering having conversations. She then goes on to write “There was a great deal of fussing to be done before Mr. Summers declared the lottery open.” The people had started out calm but as the lottery got closer they were anxious to have it be done. The actions of the people changed as time went on becoming more chaotic. In “The Lottery” Shirley Jackson creates the theme life is chaotic. All of the people had drawn a paper from the box and this leads to an unexpected ending. She says “For a minute, no one moved, and then all the slips of paper were opened. Suddenly, all the women began to speak at once.” All of the people are calm while opening the papers but once they have been opened the women shouted and that created chaos. Later she writes “‘It isn’t fair, it isn’t right,’ Mrs. Hutchinson screamed, and then they were upon her.” She had screamed as they all threw stones at her and all 299 other people throwing stones and one screaming causes the peace to be disturbed and have disorder.
The mayhem was due to an unexpected ending and Mrs. Hutchinson’s life became full of chaos in that moment. By showing children’s excitement, a change in attitude, and an unforeseen resolution, Shirley Jackson develops the theme life is chaotic. Jackson demonstrates the excitement of the children as they gathered stones. The people were calm as the lottery approached but got edgy wanting it to start. The women showing and the wife screaming caused there to be even more chaos and excitement within the people. While I don’t believe that this will ever happen in real life, it is vital to remember that just because something sounds good or exciting doesn’t mean it is. In other words don’t judge a book by its cover you don’t know all of the details written inside.
Literary Analysis Of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery
Ever wondered what you’d do if you won the lottery? The main theme in The Lottery is blindly following tradition. In the story, there’s an annual tradition of people coming out and joining the traditional lottery. The author develops the theme of blindly following the tradition no matter how bad it is. The author also developed the theme by using the same old black box, yet not being the original, to symbolize not changing tradition. The author made the theme by showing that everything is not what it seems. In the story, the author foreshadows the ending by adding in “made a great pile of stones in the corner of the square and guarded it against the raids from other boys”. Most people assume that the rocks are for killing someone, and would more likely think that they’re for skipping rocks. There was some hesitation when the town members were asked for help. Implying that they were fearful about touching the box. Another way the author uses foreshadowing was when Tessie started feeling something eerie or off about the lottery, and the story ends with Tessie being stoned to death.
Another example is the adults reaction to the kids collecting stones and piling them up and guarding them. For example, “Bobby Martin ducked under his mother’s grasping hand and ran, laughing, back to the pile of stones”. The adults aren’t fazed by the actions and went on as if everything was normal and let them run off to guard the pile. All of these little examples were hinting to what was going to happen at the end of the story. The story itself is very ironic, for example, the lottery being something that is commonly thought to be about money, when it actually is about being stoned to death. When people first read this story, they get excited, wondering who’s going to win a massive amount of money and they begin to think about what they’d do if they won that money. The town people are hoping that they don’t get chosen for the lottery and want for the day to end or all together, stop the day from happening. To quote from the article, “Bill Hutchinson was standing quietly, staring down at the paper in his hand. Suddenly, Tessie Hutchinson shouted to Mr. Summers. ‘You didn’t give him enough time to take any paper he wanted. I saw you. It wasn’t fair!’”. It’s also ironic how everyone seems to care for one another, but without hesitation, they accept tradition and accept the fate of the winner. Another literary device is imagery. The imagery first portrayed was calm and peaceful which started to transition to eerie and dark. It’s also shown that people are trying to finish the lottery quickly to get home on time for supper. Another example is Old Man Walter, the story mentions that he’s been drawn into the lottery for 27 years now. It’s another example that shows that everyone in town in blindly accepting the tradition of the lottery. He also doesn’t seem to have a problem with being entered into the lottery many times.
According to the story, “Seventy-seventh year I’ve been in the lottery,’ Old Man Walter said as he went through the crowd. ‘Seventy-seventh time’”. In conclusion, there were multiple literary devices shown in the story like foreshadowing, irony, and imagery. Irony was shown by portraying that the story would be about winning the lottery and getting massive amounts of money. When it’s not about wanting win and having your fate decided by a little sheet of paper with a dark circle on it. Foreshadowing was shown by explaining to the readers that the kids were collecting rocks and guarding them. It was also shown when townspeople were nervous and uneasy throughout the morning. The last literary device was imagery. Imagery was shown by the emotion and the setting with the story. The story first started off with a calm setting which transitioned to people who were feeling anxious throughout the morning.
Analysis Of Literary Devices In The Lottery By Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” captivates readers with her peculiar point of view on humankind and its nature. Her dark literature has a lasting effect on anyone who reads her work. Shirley Jackson was influenced, mostly, by important people in her life. Her husband, Stanley Edgar Hyman, was a renounce literary critic. He supported and assisted Shirley Jackson’s writing for most of her career. Jackson and her mother, Geraldine Jackson, had an unfortunate relationship, and many believe this inspired Jackson’s dark literature. Shirley Jackson was born in San Francisco on December 14, 1916. She spent her childhood writing stories and she began exploring poetry in her teenage years. Certain events affected Jackson’s writing themes. When she was seventeen, Jackson and her family suddenly moved from California to New York. This was when she began to include more horror in her writing. Jackson attended the University of Rochester. After her first year, she spent a year at home practicing writing a thousand words a day. In college, she had her first successful short story which allowed her to help establish her campus’s first literary publication. “Shirley Jackson’s work has aroused controversy among scholars, many of whom doubt their lasting importance, but no one denies that they have had a significant cultural impact on generations of Americans”. Shirley Jackson claimed to believe in Christian Science, however, she had a huge collection of witchcraft books. Despite her many stories involving the supernatural, Jackson strongly believed that ghosts are not real. Her husband, Edgar Hyman, was a strong militant atheist.
“Jackson bridged the gap between serious literature and popular fiction in suspenseful novels often about extraordinary occurrences. Much of Jackson’s other work presents disturbed characters within the context of vividly realized domestic, everyday settings”. Shirley Jackson wrote many short stories and novels. Her career was never extremely popular because Jackson was trying to raise her children and write at the same time, all while supporting her husband. Shirley Jackson would have her children practice writing poetry and short stories because she wanted them to follow her and her husband’s career paths. Unfortunately, none of Jackson’s children became popular with their writing, but they did admire and learn from her work. Towards the end of her life, Jackson suffered from agoraphobia, the extreme fear of embarrassment. Jackson was a smoker and she always struggled with obesity. In 1965, at the age of 48, Shirley Jackson died of heart failure. Her literature became more popular after her death. When she died, Jackson was in the middle of writing two novels. “The following year a collection of her work edited by Stanley Edgar Hyman, was published. In 1968, a volume of work containing Jackson’s unfinished novel, sixteen short stories, and three lectures was published”. Shirley Jackson’s husband died five years later at the age of fifty-one from a heart attack. “The theme of this story is a terrifying one, memorable for the way it sweeps aside romantic notions of rural folk, but Jackson’s stories covered the spectrum from the fantastic to the realistic to the humorous”. Jackson’s short story, “The Lottery” exhibits human versus society in two crucial scenes.
In the scene depicting Tess showing up late for the lottery, the town liked her and was willing to wait for her to show up. It is contradicting because when Tess is chosen for the stoning, no one objects to the tradition along with her. In a second example, the short story reflects irony in the scene depicting Tess’s death. Irony is shown by the setting being sunny and cheerful, then ending in her brutal murder, and when Tess encouraged her husband to pull the piece of paper that would lead to her stoning. “Jackson enhances horror with a methodical selection process that mimics the fairness of democracy. The two-staged ritual first names the family, then orders the drawing among parents and children that rapidly alienates the loser”. “The Lottery” uses foreshadowing through two scenes, first in the scene depicting the boys gathering stones into a pile before the true nature of the story is revealed. Second by Tess showing up late and having the attention. Foreshadowing is shown when Mr. Summers said they would proceed without Tess because she was late. In a second example, “The Lottery” reflects suspense in the scene of drawing the papers. Suspense is mainly shown by Jackson withholding the true purpose of the lottery and not giving an explanation until the climax of the story. “Tess Hutchinson is the primary protagonist, a housewife who is perfectly content to go along with the ceremony until her family is chosen in the first round. Only then does she declare that was not fair”. Shirley Jackson wrote “The Lottery” in one morning. Some readers thought “The Lottery” was based on facts, based on an article. Before the release, editors wanted to make minor changes to her short story. Weeks after its release, “The Lottery” was a nationwide stir. Shirley Jackson received much hate mail, including rejection from her family. Of course, it caused major controversy between her readers. The story has been adapted many times. “As one of the most famous American short stories of the 20th century, ‘The Lottery’ is brief, sparsely detailed, and relies less on character development than on its shocking finally for its unsettling insights into human behavior”.
Contributions to Shirley Jackson’s literary heritage are evident. She used he childhood and college experiences to inspire her writings. Jackson’s literature benefitted society by pointing to particular universal, like the issue of blindly following tradition. It also shows society blaming one individual for the evil. “The Lottery” influenced culture as a whole with its unique aspects. It made people talk about unfair punishments and it caused readers to think and consider what the issues may have symbolized for their own lives. From the way Shirley Jackson introduced horror to the ways she used humor, she was a literary genius. Jackson executed the “The Lottery” in a remarkable way. She did not write it simply as a horror story, but wanted to show the dangers of peer pressure and blindly going along with something. No matter how many times “The Lottery” is adapted or changed it will always be a part of American literary history. The day after the short story was published, Jackson knew it would forever be a great controversy. Shirley Jackson’s literature will always have an impact on those who read her peculiar works.
The Role of Tradition in Community in “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson
Tradition can be viewed as a way of life, creating a reluctant response in a civilization when the idea of change comes about, no matter how barbaric these traditions may be. Shirley Jackson in her short story, “The Lottery”, with the use of symbolism displays how strong tradition can be upheld in a community.
When a black box is brought into the room, the story focuses on the specific features of its appearance, provoking symbolic meaning. By using the technique of mis anticipation, Jackson is able to draw attention off the true dark meaning behind this “lottery”. Digging deeper into the story we can catch a change in mood as we realize the true fact of the matter; a stoning. This tradition remains after all this time and becomes a social norm that even children would be willing to stone others and occasionally members of their own family.
Many symbols in the story had a paralleled meaning to the idea of tradition. One example would be the black box in the story that was used as a common paper draw box, where the head of each household would select a strip of paper, but symbolically served its purpose in the story to reflect the tradition that has stuck for many years. This depiction becomes evident when the box is portrayed to be “an old black wooden box”, that some townspeople believe still have pieces of the original box attached to it. The fact that this box is believed to still hold parts of the original, portrays an idea that after many years this box being a symbol of tradition for the townspeople, has been able to stay without any outside forces being able to break it or replace it with something new as generations pass. A reinforcement that indicates that these people did not want to let go of this old tradition is when “Mr. Summers spoke frequently to the villagers about making a new box, but no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box.” (Jackson, Pg. 5) This allows the reader to better understand the significance of the black box through the embodied symbolic meaning.
Restating the idea that tradition can be a powerful concept, we notice that this cruel custom has become an acceptable concept within the community because of the fact that the whole town gathers around with what seemed to be exciting, to a death assembly but it follows through so casually because all moral repulsion has been blocked. To some extent, some characters see it as a necessity, a way of life that cannot be broken. As the story explains that, “the black box now resting on the stool had been put into use even before Old Man Warner, the oldest man in town, was born”, we can realize that “Old Man” Warner is used as a symbol as well, and when he hears about a town that has gotten rid of that tradition he grumbles. He dislikes the idea as he’s lived his whole life experiencing this very old tradition.
Old Man Warner takes it upon himself to uphold this tradition in the story by mis anticipating the tone of story Jackson is able to draw the attention away from the fact that this lottery is one that ends in death of whoever wins it. Witnessing each character’s nervous reaction to the draw of paper, gives us an idea that there might be a bit more at stake. When describing the setting, it has a warm feel to it as they explain that it is June (summertime) and that the townspeople all casually gather around to begin what almost seems to be a holiday with excited children running around picking up stones for an unknown reason which becomes more evident as the story develops. The fact that each person in this town is very willing to participate, brings a general idea that this behavior has become a social norm.
As the story goes on, we can quickly develop the idea that this lottery chooses one person to get stoned to death, almost like a one-day free pass to allow people of the town to kill someone and cure the bloodlust of murder or generally crime to be tamed until the next year. By doing so, the story successfully creates a plot twist that grasps the audience’s interests.
The story inclusively ends with the death of a female who was chosen to be stoned to death by the rest of the townsfolk in this twisted lottery. These people had no mercy as to killing another individual because they see this process as a way of life that in using the literary technique of foreshadowing, the story successfully creates a sense of questioning.
Many hints are placed throughout the story when even children, or more specifically the little boys who “eventually made a great pile of stones in one corner of the square and guarded it against the raids of the other boys”. In this instant we can gather an idea, but still uncertain, as to what is truly going on. Not only is questioning provoked but also a sense of suspense in wondering how these odd scenarios correspond to the current moment in the story. By doing so, their eyes must continue. Tradition will and must be upheld or all else will fail as a community in the eyes of the civilization, but some shy away from bringing change in fear. Nevertheless, any factor as to why this “lottery,” continues is all the more reinforcement in the fact that tradition, if taken seriously, is a powerful idea that can change a whole civilization’s views, beliefs, and way of life in general.