Noting that the story's characters, physical environment, and even its climactic action lack significant individuating detail, most critics view "The Lottery" as a modern-day parable or fable which obliquely addresses a variety of themes, including the dark side of human nature, the danger of ritualized behavior, and the potential for cruelty when the individual submits to the mass will.
As the townspeople gather and wait for the ceremony to begin, some calmly piling stones together, they discuss everyday matters of work and family, behaving in ways that suggest the ordinariness of their lives and of the impending event. Tessie Hutchinson, arriving late, talks with her friend, Mrs. Delacroix, about the household chores that almost made her miss the lottery.
Although everyone appears to agree that the annual lottery is important, no one seems to know when it began or what its original purpose was. Summers reads off an alphabetical list of names, the heads of each household come forward to select a folded slip of paper from an old black wooden box. Bill Hutchinson draws the paper with the black mark on it, and people immediately begin speculating about which Hutchinson will actually "win" the drawing.
Each member of Bill's family then draws a slip from the box. Tessie selects the paper with the black mark on it, and she vigorously protests the unfairness of the drawing. The townspeople refuse to listen to her, and as the story ends they begin to pelt her with the stones they have gathered. The principal themes of "The Lottery" rely on the incongruous union of decency and evil in human nature.
Frazer's anthropological study of primitive societies, The Golden Bough , many critics observe that the story reflects humankind's ancient need for a scapegoat, a figure upon which it can project its most undesirable qualities, and which can be destroyed in a ritually absolving sacrifice. Unlike primitive peoples, however, the townspeople in "The Lottery"—insofar as they repre-sent contemporary Western society—should possess social, religious, and moral prohibitions against annual lethal stonings.
Commentators variously argue that it is the very ritualization that makes the murder palatable to otherwise decent people; the ritual, and fulfilling its tradition, justifies and masks the brutality. As a modern parable on the dualism of human nature, "The Lottery" has been read as addressing such issues as the public's fascination with salacious and scandalizing journalism, McCarthyism, and the complicity of the general public in the victimization of minority groups, epitomized by the Holocaust of World War II.
According to Lenemaja Friedman, three "main characteristics dominated the letters: Those critics who read the story as a traditional narrative tend to fault its surprise ending and lack of character development as unrealistic, unbelievable, and making reader identification difficult. Other commentators, however, view "The Lottery" as a modern-day parable; they argue that the elements of the story often disparaged by its critics are actually consistent with the style and structure of New Testament parables and to stories from the Old Testament.
Generally, critics agree only that the story's meaning cannot be determined with exactitude. While most critics concede that it was Jackson's intention to avoid specific meaning, some cite flatly drawn characters, unrevealing dialogue, and the shocking ending as evidence of literary infertility. The majority of commentators, though, argue that the story's art lies in its provocativeness and that with its parable-like structure Jackson is able to address a variety of timeless issues with contemporary resonance, and thereby stir her readers to reflective thought and debate.
Another theme defined by Shirley Jackson is the random choice of persecuted person. The randomness of persecution is connected with the indifference, and the author just hints that these things often happen in real life. The indifference is evil. The reasons of persecution may be various and often they are out of control of the persons who are persecuted. The persecution often happens without any reasons, and Shirley Jackson just frankly speaks about it in her story. Shirley Jackson uses the symbols in her work, simply because they help author to represent some important things.
They serve as additional elements of her story and form the whole picture. The first symbol is the Black Box, which is the heart of the event. It combines tradition and it also shows illogic characters of the villagers.
It should be noted that the box is quite old, because it has been stored for many years, but people keep it. This is evident when Mr. Jackson Apart from that Mr. Summers use paper slips as an alternative for the wood chips to keep the same box as the population town is growing, so they need replacement of something can fit in the box more easily.
This gives us sense peoples of town has strong traditional attachment to the box. Jackson also uses the black lottery box to represent and symbolize evil and death. The author used the box with black colour, because in most cultures the black colour is associated with evil and death.
Moreover, when the author presents the lottery box in the story the townspeople maintain the distance from the proximity of the black lottery box. In addition to that she also gives the sense to the reader that people of village are in terror from black box when Mr. Summer set the back box on the stool asks the people to help him to hold the box so that Mr. After the names go into the box, whoever draws a slip with black dot on it, his or her family is the victim to go for second round and one of them who get the slip with black dot is chosen to stone until death.
So this proves that black colour symbolize the death. So, black box here is Tied into this symbol is the symbol of irony. The story initially makes the black box and the lottery seem like something good. People rush to gather for the opportunity to draw their names from the box. However, in the end of the story, one realizes the irony of the situation. The important theme of the story is that the people blindly follow the tradition in the pressure of society which is shown by the author very skilfully via the symbol of black box.
So symbolically this box representing tradition which has no current value and meaning.
"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson is a story of an unusual town caught in a trap of always following tradition, even when it is not in their best interest. Jackson uses symbols throughout the story that relate to the overall theme.
Free Shirley Jackson's The Lottery papers, essays, and research papers.
- The Lottery and Durkheims Ideoloies In this essay we will take a look at and analyze The Lottery by Shirley Jackson in stipulations related to Durkheim's ideologies. I will try to make various links from the story to Durkheim's functionalism. In the following essay on "The Lottery," Heilman discusses how Jackson's shift "from a realistic to a symbolic technique" intensifies the shock value of the story's ending.] Miss Jackson's story ["The .
The Lottery essays"The Lottery" has many obvious themes and symbols as well as some that are not so easily observable. One of the main themes to this story is tradition and how it . The Lottery Essay. BACK; NEXT ; Writer’s block can be painful, but we’ll help get you over the hump and build a great outline for your paper.