Death For the Sake of a Ritual

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The greatest gifts one can give do not always come in small packages. Sometimes the greatest present a person could receive is the utter extinction of a person’s very existence. Through death, we can sometimes benefit even if it evokes mixed deep uncomfortable feelings. Death for the sake of ritual and or tradition is an act that has been practiced throughout history. By today’s standards this seems morbidly disturbing. Death for relief, revenge, and or for the opinionated bettering of society has also occurred as long as recorded history. This cold homicidal act is usually considered psychotically driven even if most everyone, whether secretly or openly, wanted the demise to occur. A death for acceptance, understanding, and or love is another gift of death as old as time itself but when the death is a self sacrificing act imposed on oneself for a loved one it does not diminish the sorrow and heartfelt pity it leaves the survivors for whom the victim died. Literature is wrapped with numerous examples of these three ultimate gifts of death. Let us explore an example of each and further our understanding of this great, grisly gift. In Shirley Jackson’s short story, “The Lottery,” Mrs. Tessie Hutchinson’s death is a prime example of the accepted expected traditional ritualistic demise. Tessie‘s life is randomly sacrificed for the greater good of her community and their belief that it will bring a prosperous harvest (Jackson 334). Tessie’s life is the price paid for a year of good luck and fortune for her whole community. To her family and friends it is irrelevant that Tessie is the victim. What becomes relevant is that for the greater good someone in the town must die by the vicious hand of the other townsfolk. As brutal as it seems the annual murdering of an innocent being has long been practiced in many cultures. Look at the ancient Mayans and who they used ritual sacrifice to appease their gods. Whether the sacrifice is to please ones god or to manipulate the fate of the future for some traditional belief it is not that uncommon in fiction or fact. We may not agree with this way of thinking and acting, but nonetheless, Tessie’s personally unwanted but presumably self-foreseeing gamble towards demise is a gift seen by her peers as necessary, fair, and just. It is a gift of death enveloped be a visco... ... middle of paper ... ... and ribbons, no matter how ornate the parchment used is, the reality is that death is still death. In these three literary examples, no matter how the deaths occurred and no matter how they made you personally feel, they can arguably be construed as gifts to someone. They all, from someone’s point of view, were justifiable. Whether it be a peer, a madman, or the victim themselves they all saw the deaths as a reasonable solution bestowed upon a twisted situation. It is said that the biggest gift of all may sometimes come in a small package, but as we have discovered, the biggest gift of all is sometimes the exact same size as a coffin. Works Cited Jackson, Shirley. "The Lottery." Literature: The Humam Experience; Reading And Writing. Shorter Eighth Edition. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004: 328-34. Poe, Edger Allen. "The Cask Of Amontillado." Literature: The Humam Experience; Reading And Writing. Shorter Eighth Edition. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004: 970-75. Lawrence, D H. “The Rocking Horse Winner.” Literature: The Humam Experience; Reading And Writing. Shorter Eighth Edition. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004. 1018-29.
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