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Irony in Shirley Jackson's The Lottery

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Irony in The Lottery

    Shirley Jackson wrote the story "The Lottery." A lottery is typically

thought of as something good because it usually involves winning something

such as money or prizes.  In this lottery it is not what they win but it is

what is lost.  Point of views, situations, and the title are allironic to

the story "The Lottery."

     The point of view in  "The Lottery" is ironic to the outcome.  Jackson

used third person dramatic point of view when writing "The Lottery." The

third person dramatic point of view allowed the author to keep the outcome

of the story a surprise.  The outcome is ironic because the readers are led

to believe everything is fine because we do not really know what anyone is

thinking.  This point of view enables the ending to be ironic.

     The situations in "The Lottery" are ironic.  The author's use of words

keeps the reader thinking that there is nothing wrong and that everyone is

fine. The story starts by describing the day as "clear and sunny"(309).

The people of the town are happy and going on as if it is every other day.

The situation where Mrs.  Hutchinson is jokingly saying to Mrs.  Delacroix

"Clean forgot what day it was"(311) is ironic because something that is so

awful cannot truly be forgotten.  At the end of the story when Mrs.

Hutchinson is chosen for the lottery, it is ironic that it does not upset

her that she was chosen.  She is upset because of the way she is chosen.

She shows this by saying "It isn't fair, it isn't right" (316). The

situation is extremely ironic to the story.

     The title of the story "The Lottery" is ironic. By reading the title

of the story the reader may think that someone is going to win something.

In actuality when the reader gets to the end of the story, he finds just

the opposite to be true.  Jackson shows every day as if it is  any other

summer day.  Jackson foreshadows the events to come by writing:

   School was recently over for   the summer  . . .  Bobby Martin had

already          stuffed his pockets full of stones, and the other boys

soon followed his             example, selecting the smoothest and roundest

stones;  . . .  eventually   made a pile of stones in one corner of the

square and guarded it against the raids of other boys.  (310) After reading

this, the reader thinks the children are just collecting stones because

that is what children do.  They do not expect the outcome to turn out like

it does.  The title has the reader believing that something good is going

to happen, and will not know any different until the end of the story.

      The point of view, situation, and title all contribute to the irony

in the story.  These are all equally important to the irony and without

them the story would not have been as interesting as it was.  If these were

not included then the story would not be the same and would not keep the

readers' interest.


Work Cited


Jackson, Shirley.  "The lottery" Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing.

Ed.  Laurie G.     Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell. Third Ed. Fort Worth:

Harcourt, 1997. 309-16.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Irony in Shirley Jackson's The Lottery." 02 Oct 2014

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