The Lottery: A Sinister Yet Surreal Representation of Human Weakness and Hypocrisy

The Lottery: A Sinister Yet Surreal Representation of Human Weakness and Hypocrisy

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Shirley Jackson, an American author and novelist, was popular in her time for her peculiar sense of mystery and horror. Her fictitious short story “The Lottery” is nothing short of sinister, yet surreal representation of human weakness and hypocrisy. Her clever use of consistently humorous and friendly language to narrate an act of evil does ‘pack a punch’ for the readers; especially, the final revelation of the fate of the apparent winner can make one feel ‘sick to the stomach’. Jackson has applied carefully toned language, vivid imagery for graphic dramatization and carefully crafted characters, to attain the complete effect of a mysterious horror story with an underlying message that people can be hypocritical and are not always what they seem to be.
The story is set in a small village which has a general aura of merriness denoted by the use of positive words such as “sunny”, “warmth”, and “blossoming” (Jackson). Through the use of ordinary and friendly language, the author creates a simple and serene environment where children tend to break into “boisterous play” and women “exchange bits of gossip” (Jackson). Throughout the beginning there is a constant portrayal of a normal village life, where everyone knows everyone and family members have typical names. The specifics of the date and time of “The Lottery”, along with the friendly conversations exchanged between the villagers is misleading. It is not until the very end that the winner’s fate is discovered; death, by friends and family. This is the most significant irony in the entire story.
As the story progresses, among the ordinary and merry atmosphere develops a subtle presence of evil, which makes the readers uncomfortable. This is masterfully achieved in numero...

... middle of paper ...

...alize the irony; just when she rebelled for her beliefs, fate dawned upon her.
“The Lottery” in a way applies to current society in general. Individuals show keen interest in other’s circumstances without any particular reason. Man is definitely blind and the sense of humanity and moral obligation is mostly impaired, until they are the very victims. Although, the realization that “It isn’t fair” will set in, it may be too late for many. According to Jackson, she received response letters which were "bewilderment, speculation and old-fashioned abuse" (Friedman) which simply proves her theory in the current society. It is sad and happens all the time!

Works Cited

Jackson, Shirley. “The Lottery.”
Classic Short Stories,

Friedman, Lenemaja. "Social Evil: The Lottery," Shirley Jackson. Twayne Publishers, 1975

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