The Horror of The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson Essay

The Horror of The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson Essay

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Once upon a time there was a little village. In this village three hundred people happily farmed and played and went about their business. The children went to school while the men cut wood or farmed, and the women cooked and cleaned. Every summer in June each of villagers took part in the traditional lottery drawing and one villager was picked for the prize – a stoning. In 1948, Shirley Jackson published this short story known as “The Lottery,” in The New York Times. The story’s plot shocked readers all over America as they learned of the horror happening in such a quaint town. Jackson purposely set this tragic event in this innocent setting to emphasize humanity’s cruelty. Using her appalling short story, The Lottery, Shirley Jackson alarms readers with the ironic and suspenseful elements of a seemingly pleasant setting as well as vague characters in order to prove the inhumanity of society.
Jackson provides a specific date making the story believable but still ambiguous, in order to show that this tragic tradition is plausible. Being published in such a modern time as 1948, the story shocks readers because this cruel act seems too far from man’s “civilized behavior” (Friedman, Lenemaja 63). But this assumption shows man’s ignorance of his own capability for this horrible practice; the ambiguity of the story’s time period reveals that this could happen any time or any where. This June date provides readers with a reference point to a time in their own lives, and critic Jennifer Hicks suggests “one can picture herself or himself in similar surroundings” (147). This realism is crucial to the portrayal of this horror story because it creates the disbelief and shock once the ending is revealed (Brooks, Cleanth 30)....


... middle of paper ...


... But the real question becomes, who will be next?


Works Cited

Brooks, Cleanth, and Robert Penn Warren. Understanding Fiction. New York: Appleton. 1959. Print.
Friedman, Lenemaja. Shirley Jackson. Boston: Twayne. 1975. Print.
Gioia, Dana, and R.S. Gwynn. The Art of the Short Story. New York: Pearson. 2006. Print.
Griffin, Amy A. “Jackson’s ‘The Lottery’.” The Explicator 58 (1999): 44-45. Rpt. in Amy A. Griffin on Tradition and Violence. Bloom’s Major Short Story Writers. Ed. Harold Bloom. Broomall: Chelsea, 2001. 43-44. Print.
Hicks, Jennifer. Short Stories for Students. Ed. Kathleen Wilson. Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale, 1997. 146-48. Print.
Yarmove, Jay A. “Jackson’s ‘The Lottery’.” The Explicator 52 (1994): 234-44. Rpt. in Jay A. Yormove on Symbolism in the Story. Bloom’s Major Short Story Writers. Ed. Harold Bloom. Broomall: Chelsea, 2001. 41-42. Print.

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