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...
“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson reveals the danger of blindly following tradition. “The Lottery” presents the story of an annual tradition practiced by the community of a small town. The tradition itself involves stoning the winner of the lottery to ensure a good harvest. This tradition appears to be extremely vital to the community, considering its apparent lack of history.
The fundamental principles of “utilitarianism” is that the moral is worthy of an action that benefits the majority of the population and minimizes the negative consequence of the action, thus the “greatest happiness rationale” rules. This further implies that the welfare of the entire population is more important than the welfare of a sole individual. Shirley Jackson’s, “The Lottery”, and the United States military draft lottery demonstrate two different examples of lottery practices – the stoning in “the Lottery” and the raising of military manpower through the draft lottery. Both of these examples claim the major aim is allegedly for the welfare of the majority, however otherwise. Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” epitomizes communities, America, the world, and the orthodox society in its entirety through utilizing setting and most significantly various representations with her imaginative, enigmatic literary style. The Lottery was written in 1948 and this was approximately three years following the release of a World War II concentration camp Auschwitz. Shirley Jackson illustrates through the setting of the story, a humble, close-knit community, that despite the population’s ignorance to evil, it is still prevailing in the lottery. Lottery in the story pertains to the villagers’ yearly ritual of sacrificing and stoning a member of the community in exchange for a plentiful harvest. The façade of the lottery may appear beneficial for the majority of the villagers because, according to their belief, doing the lottery will provide them with an abundant harvest (Jackson). The sacrifice of one community member may appear justifiable because that one person’s sacrifice is for the good of the entire community. However, if we are going to...
The Lottery, and Christianity Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery”, if left at face value, is a perverse tale of a small village sacrificial ceremony, which leaves a lasting impression upon the reader. However to take the story at face value would nearly be an exercise in futility, for then the reader would be missing the deeper meanings found in the delicate symbolism that Jackson places throughout the tale.
In both Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and Ursula LeGuin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,” the idea of sacrifice is described in order to show how suffering and sacrifice is necessary for the happiness of others and to enlighten readers to the reality of the world. In the descriptions of the society, the extent and purpose of the sacrifice, and the deeper result of the sacrifice, the two societies have similarities, yet they have differences that enlighten the reader to a deeper understanding of the concept of sacrifice as it relates to happiness and society in general.
Set in 1948 and published in The New Yorker, “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson describes a village ritual of sacrifice. Contrary to the positive feeling associated with the word “lottery,” the story strikes fear into the readers’ hearts as the winner is stoned to death. Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” uses symbolism and genre conventions of a classic dystopian story to show the different ways in which human cruelty can occur.
The people in the village where Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery” takes place keep the lottery going because it is a tradition, without any thought of why they do this, or whether they should continue. It is just an ordinary day for Tess until she shows up late to the lottery drawing, through which she is later chosen to be stoned to death:
Not every lottery has a favored prize. Sometimes, as in the short story examined here, it is best to lose. Author Shirley Jackson, a 1940 graduate of Syracuse University, lived in Vermont in 1948 when she wrote her most famous work, “The Lottery.” She liked to entertain readers with psychological thrillers and suspense-filled stories and wrote with a “peculiar talent for the bizarre” (Ragland). Her writing is described as “unemotional narrative style.” She “reveals men and women to be timid, conformist, callous, and cruel” and gives a depressing view of human nature since she believed that people possess more evil than good and tend to resist change (Ragland). Jackson shows how the reluctance of the village people to question tradition has a disastrous conclusion when the reader is shocked to learn that the winner of the lottery will be stoned to death. Her short story begins on June 27th as the villagers gather in the town square to take part in the annual tradition of the lottery. Each member draws a slip of paper and the one marked with a black dot represents the winner. The outcome and unexpected tragedy is that this winner is immediately stoned to death. The men and women of the town seem to follow, without question, this ritual that has been performed annually for much longer than the oldest villager has lived. In her shocking story “The Lottery,” author Shirley Jackson reveals that to follow tradition without question can have horrific consequences through her characterization of the villagers and Mrs. Tessie Hutchinson and her clever use of foreshadowing and symbolism.
The lottery is a short story written by Shirley Jackson. The author lived from 1916 to when she died in 1965. The story was published in June of 1948 in an issue of “The New Yorkers”. When I first read this story I thought it was talking about the kind of lottery we have today. I quickly realized that was not the case, but that it was about system where someone is sacrifice for the sake of the crops. The lottery was actually not necessary but was a tradition that they kept following. The crops would have grew even if they had not sacrifice someone.
Oppenheimer, Judy. Private Demons: The Life of Shirley Jackson. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1988. Print.