The Unalterable Human Condition Exposed in Shirley Jackson's The Lottery

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The Unalterable Human Condition Exposed in Shirley Jackson's The Lottery The short story, The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson, managed to capture various human tendencies stemming from the very heart of the unalterable human condition. The willingness to follow tradition blindly, the inherent cruelty of humans, and the unwillingness to change were the primary negative behaviors depicted in the story. The unalterable human condition is one of the truths of human existence. Throughout the course of history, humans tend to act in the same ways, repeat the same mistakes, and end up little better than they were a century before. Although technology has changed, increasing the quality of life, behavior patterns have not changed, decreasing both the sanctity and quality of life. One may begin to wonder if the human race will ever change its behavior in any more ways than rhetoric. The short story, The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson, managed to capture various human tendencies stemming from the very heart of the unalterable human condition. The willingness to follow tradition blindly, the inherent cruelty of humans, and the unwillingness to change were the primary negative behaviors depicted in the story. People enter into society with certain traditions having long since been established. People are terrified of changing those traditions because of the fact that those traditions have been in existence for decades, even centuries. If they have survived that long, people consciously or unconsciously reason, they must be correct. However, that is not necessarily the case. In The Lottery, the tradition must have been at least a century old, as the black box used to choose the lucky winner "had been put into use even before Old Man Wa... ... middle of paper ... ...s existed for thousands of years, human beings are still making the same mistakes as they were when the first humans walked the earth. People live and die, empires rise and fall, while human behavior remains the same the entire time. People ought to learn from the mistakes of the past, not forgetting the things that have gone wrong. The great authors of the world have taken advantage of the unalterable human condition, using it to point out the grave errors that the natural behaviors of human beings can lead to. But before humans begin to dwell to such errors, they should remember that the mistakes they have made are not as important as the lessons humans draw from them . . . Works Cited: Jackson, Shirley. "The Lottery." Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense. 5th ed. Ed. Laurence Perrine. San Diego: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, Publishers 1998. 180-186

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