Skip Nav

“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson Response Paper Essay

by Shirley Jackson

❶How about make it original?

Navigate Guide

The Lottery Thesis Statements and Important Quotes
Not what you're looking for?
Logging out…

There are many signs of the tension of the day throughout the story, but most of them more subtle than piles of rocks. The men smile rather than laugh and moments of hesitation fill this story. This creates an undercurrent of dread which is the core of this story and becomes even more powerful when the reader feels those reactions without knowing he or she is feeling it.

The choice of the author to not explain this is one of the most important choices in the story. Perhaps the most interesting of the theories on the lottery's meaning is the simple idea of the scapegoat. The basic idea of the scapegoat has existed since the early days of Judaism. In that tradition it was literally a goat, but the idea is to sacrifice a single person for the sins of the society is generally how it has been used metaphorically.

Beyond this literal idea of being sacrificed for the sins of others is a more general idea that people need to have someone to blame or hate. The idea being that by being able to simply heap all of their aggression onto one person they are able to free themselves of it for another year.

Beyond that of the scapegoat and humankind's basic nature, the other theme of this story is one of tradition. Specifically, it is commenting on those things that people do simply because that is what has always been done. These can range from harmless traditions such as easter egg hunts and Christmas trees to far more harmful traditions such as racism, sexism, and even war.

Even in this very dark story though, the author does hold out some hope. There are people in other villages who have abandoned the lottery and eventually perhaps this town will change as well. But that change, like all important changes, won't be fast or easy. There are a number of excellent examples of dramatic irony in the story. The basic idea of the lottery as something, which in our society is generally a good thing, being evil is the chief irony of the story. This helps to strengthen both the surprise and horror of the story.

In addition, it helps to keep the reader from catching onto the basic idea of the story. Just as important is the irony that is found just over halfway through the story.

At this point, two men are discussing a town that has stopped performing the lottery. The core of the story of "The Lottery" is in its symbols. Nearly everything in the story is symbolic. The most basic of these symbols being the lottery itself. This can represent a number of different ideas, but the most basic is that of tradition and specifically unquestioned traditions.

We see them as decent, friendly, neighborly people; in fact, most of the details could be used just as they are in a conventional picture of idyllic small-town life. Things are easily, simply told, as if in a factual chronicle note the use of date and hour.

Suddenly, in the midst of this ordinary, matter-of-fact environment, there occurs a terrifyingly cruel action, official, accepted, yet for the reader mysterious and unexplained. It is entirely out of line with all the terms of actual experience in which the story has otherwise dealt.

It is as if ordinary life had suddenly ceased and were replaced, without warning, without break, and without change of scene, by some horrifying nightmare. Hence the shock, which the author has very carefully worked up to. Note how the shock is enhanced by the deadpan narrative style, which in no way suggests that anything unusual is going on. In one sense the author has prepared for the ending.

A few slight notes of nervousness, the talk about giving up the tradition, and the emotional outburst by Mrs. Hutchinson all suggest some not entirely happy outcome. Still more important in building up an unusually strong sense of Poems, — , and Now and Then: In the following essay, they examine Jackson's intentions in "The Lottery," contending that it is meant to be a parable Martin's Press, , pp. On the morning of June 28, , I walked down to the post office in our little Vermont town to pick up the mail.

I was quite casual about it, as I recall—I opened the box, took out a couple of bills and a letter or two, talked to the postmaster for a few minutes, and left, Numerous critics have carefully discussed Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" in terms of the scapegoat traditions of anthropology and literature, pointing out its obvious comment on the innate savagery of man lurking beneath his civilized trappings. Most acknowledge the power of the story, admitting that the psychological shock of the ritual murder in an atmosphere of modern, small-town normality In the following excerpt, she briefly discusses the publication history of "The Lottery" and examines the story's theme of social evil.

One of the ancient practices that modern man deplores as inhumanly evil is the annual sacrifice of a scapegoat or a god-figure for the benefit of the community. Throughout the ages, from ancient Rome and Greece to the more recent occurrences in African countries, sacrifices in the name of a god of vegetation were usual and necessary, the natives felt, for a fertile crop. Somewhere along the way, the Most studies of folklore in literature fall into one of two categories.

Either they are concerned with identifying specific items of folklore in works of literature, or they attempt to interpret the use of folklore as integral to the meaning of particular literary creations.

Historically, folklore-in-literature research has been oriented More than any other short story by Shirley Jackson, "The Lottery" has intrigued critics and provoked puzzled guesses about its enigmatic meaning.

Seymour Lainoff early on invoked the "primitive annual scapegoat rite" discussed in Frazer's The Golden Investigates "The Lottery" from Marxist and feminist perspectives. This essay is included in CLC Meaning and Context in 'The Lottery. Examines the process of the lottery and argues that its "primary social consequence involves women turning over the control of their fertility to men.

Plot and Major Characters "The Lottery" concerns an annual summer drawing held in a small unnamed American town.

How to cite this page

Main Topics

Privacy Policy

"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. This helps the reader clearly understand her main message.

Privacy FAQs

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson Essay Words | 4 Pages. The Lottery By: Shirley Jackson Summary: The Lottery happens in June every year in a small village of about people.

About Our Ads

"The Lottery" Shirley Jackson The following entry presents criticism on Jackson's short story "The Lottery" (). See also Shirley Jackson Contemporary Literary Criticism. - Conformity in Society Exposed in Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery The Lottery, a short story by the nonconformist author Shirley Jackson, represents communities, America, the world, and conformist society as a whole by using setting and most importantly .

Cookie Info

Essay: The Lottery by Shirley Jackson “The Lottery”, a short story, by Shirley Jackson is a very suspenseful yet shocking read, which focus on how tragic it can be to blindly follow a tradition. The story is set in a small town, on the summer morning of June 27th. Overall Shirley Jackson discusses the movement of the setting, the unusual foreshadowing, and the outermost symbolism in “The Lottery” to give an overall point of view of the story. Even though a small village made seem peaceful, and a good place to raise a family, it is not always what it seems to be.