The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson

2079 Words9 Pages
The 1940s in America sparked a new era in history concerning violence and warfare. The end of World War II brought the most horrific event in all of modern history to be witnessed by the world; the dropping of the Atomic Bomb, and further, the Holocaust. Born at the end of the Great War and living through this second World War, graphic imagery of the violence existing throughout her world filled the life of Shirley Jackson. Jackson’s husband Stanley Edgar Hyman wrote, “[Shirley’s] fierce visions of dissociations and madness, of alienation and withdrawal, of cruelty and terror, have been taken to be personal, even neurotic fantasies. After two rounds of drawing, one to choose the family, and one to choose the member of that family, Tessie Hutchinson “wins” the lottery. She is then stoned to death by the rest of the people of the town, including her own family. Because of the abrupt horror in the twist of the story, many people thought Jackson had mental problems and were quick to criticize “The Lottery.” The publishers were considering not publishing the story because of the graphic content (Friedman 32). Jackson’s mailbox was flooded with letters of criticism of the story and some even thought the village was real and wished to go view the annual ritual. “The Lottery” really hit home and upset others (Hicks 146). In an attempt to portray the graphic realities of life during this time period, Shirley Jackson cleverly expresses the grim facts with her use of literary techniques. Though greatly criticized for its inhumane pictorial of callous brutality, Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” illustrates through the characterization of Mrs. Tessie Hutchinson, the use of atmosphere, and allegorical writing that violence exists in all ... ... middle of paper ... ... roles women had in the fictional village of “The Lottery” as displayed through Mrs. Hutchinson, the story speaks directly to the culture of the mid 1900s. Additionally, Mrs. Hutchinson shows that violence in the world causes what is good to be lost, which the atmosphere further exemplifies. Although the story seems to speak directly about the harsh reality of this, in actuality, it is an allegory describing the insanity of warfare, and thus the insanity of violence. Through reading “The Lottery,” the reader gains a better understanding of his or her world and further applies the message presented to create a better future for the world. Shirley Jackson provided the literary community with a classic piece of literature which will never be forgotten due to its highly controversial subject matter, yet sophisticated presentation of a powerful, life changing message.

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