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Critical analysis of “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson Essay

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❶Most 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 beginning of the story, the author sheds some light regarding the history of the black box and its significance to the townspeople.

A Careful Look at "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson

Introduction
by Shirley Jackson
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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.

Comment," in Modern Short Stories: A Critical Anthology , edited by Robert B. Heilman, Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich, , pp. 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 Lottery"] is remarkable for the tremendous shock produced by the ending. Let us ignore the problem of meaning for the moment and see how the shock is created. In general, the method is quite easily recognized.

Up to the last six paragraphs the story is written in the manner of a realistic transcript of small-town experience: 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.

The first example of foreshadowing in "The Lottery" takes place in the second paragraph. 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. She also uses here narration style to heighten suspense and make the reader wonder what will happen next.

Shirley Jackson uses black box as a physical object which connects the village people to the past tradition. In the beginning of the story, the author sheds some light regarding the history of the black box and its significance to the townspeople. The author shows the attachment of the townspeople to the tradition associated with the black box via Mr.

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.

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"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.

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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.

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"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 .

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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.