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Insights into the Terror of The Lottery

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Shirley Jackson is known for her brilliant yet chilling stories and novels, such as “The Lottery” and The Haunting of Hill House. ‘The Lottery,’ being an intriguing story that leaves the reader with many questions, takes place on a lovely summer day on June 27, in an exceedingly very little New England city where each one of the individuals is meeting for his or her conventional yearly lottery. Even though the occasion initially seems joyful, it does not take long to figure out that nobody desires to win the lottery. The story attains its horrifying outcome through Jackson’s trickery in leading the reader to believe the story is going a certain way, which it does not. Although society realizes the story is fiction, “The Lottery” has continued to captivate readers year after year. In Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” audiences are given an eye-opening read because it portrays stark imagery and uses symbolism to convey the dangers of tradition.

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The imagery in this short story is used to establish a theme that presents the vile and heartless nature of customs and the threat of when it is completed without question. It is also utilized through foreshadowing, depiction of the aged black box, and the murdering of the lottery’s victor. Jackson expresses this through the killing of the winner, “Mrs. Delacroix selected a stone so large she had to pick it up with both hands” (par. 76). This shows the significance of what was happening during the time of the lottery. Jackson tends to set the mood for this story with the visual description and some figurative language. The mood set out before the real custom is one of absolute lack of engagement with the townspeople taking as much time as necessary. The whole story “The Lottery” can also be deemed as hyperbole because it is an exaggeration of the basic truth of Jackson’s subject. The multitude of images and pictures are consolidated into the short story to a convincing impact that guarantees the reader is stuck to the story. What’s more, the story offers a shallow significance and importance underneath whose comprehension must be revealed relying upon the way where one sees and deciphers the images and pictures utilized.

“The Lottery” portrayed symbolism throughout various aspects of the story. The lottery speaks to any activity, conduct, or thought that is passed down starting with one age then onto the next that is acknowledged and pursued unquestioningly, regardless of how nonsensical, strange, or inhumane. Schaub suggests that “Their ambivalence corroborates the message of the story, namely that first-hand impressions may well be deceptive: on the surface, things are smooth; deep down, the reality is cruder” (1). This is explained at the beginning of the story when the setting is described as being summer and bright/warm. This leads readers to believe that the story might as well be heading in a peaceful direction when in reality it does quite the opposite with a horrifying ending. The spotted sheets of paper show the pointlessness of the whole lottery. They are made by Joe Summers with pencil the night before the lottery, and it is just this imprint, coolly made by another human, that decides the destiny of an individual. The ordinariness of the item advises us that the stamped piece of paper holds no power in itself, other than the power that the residents give it by clinging to the custom of the lottery. The black box used to draw the slips of paper may also be used to represent an image to the townspeople of the life span of their tradition and the way that numerous individuals before them have maintained the act of the lottery. The discovery gives certainty to the townspeople since it reminds them to trust in the custom of their past generations, never thinking that those traditions may be immoral. The stones used frequently throughout the story are shown to represent the violence the villagers have already agreed to carry out.

Traditions have a certain magnitude in linking the past to the present. It is easy to fall into traditions whether it be in religion or government. “The Lottery” does a phenomenal job of demonstrating the dangers of blindly following tradition. For example, Mr. Adams tells Old Man Warner how the other village seems to be giving up the lottery, and Old Man Warner calls them a pack of crazy fools because the lottery has been around forever and helps with crops (Jackson par. 32-33). This shows how the villagers somehow believe their ritual benefits the common good. They do not scrutinize the power or custom of these executions. It is unbelievable to what extent the characters go, to finish the ritual. For example, during the stoning of Tessie Hutchinson, they give her little boy stones to use. Jackson also seems to give insights into our own obedience to tradition. Patrick Shields presents how “Many of us are guilty of accepting custom and tradition without questioning it. Many of us are socialized into this process from such a young age that it goes without examination” (416). This shows how crucial it is that societies today learn to not conform to such practices.

In the short story “The Lottery,” readers are introduced to the dangers of tradition and how it relates to symbolism and imagery. The types of imagery and symbolism draw out an examination of the general public and the monetary direction of the general public. The story not only brutally clarifies the risks of following customs in any case but, gives bits of knowledge into what traditions are indiscriminately followed in the present society. Regardless of whether somebody didn’t concur with this tradition, they didn’t have the ability to change the methods for the custom. It is scary to think of how some will go to pursue their beliefs or practices.    

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