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Shirley Jackson, the author of the short story, "The Lottery", is the daughter of Beatrice and George Jackson. Jackson was born on August 5th, in 1946. Some background on Jackson is that she graduated college with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. ("Shirley Ann Jackson") Jackson had many accomplishments in her lifetime. She received many awards, metals, and honors. Jackson was appointed to chair the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, she was elected as chairman of the newly formed International Nuclear Regulators Association, and she then joined the ranks of U.S. college presidents on July 1, 1999, where she assumed the top position at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She was featured on the cover of the March issue of Black Issue in Higher Education. Jackson graduated from Roosevelt High School as valedictorian of her class ("Shirley Ann Jackson"). Shirley Jackson is most remembered for her being a Theoretical Physics and getting good grades, because that is what got her where she was at (Shirley Ann Jackson). A list of her works:
The Road Through the Wall, 1948
The Lottery, or, The adventures of James Harris, 1949
The Lottery, 1950
Life Among the Savages, 1953
The Birds Nest, 1954
The Witchcraft of Salem Village, 1956
Raising Demon, 1957
The Sundial, 1958
The Haunting of Hill House, 1959
The Bad Children, 1959
We Have Always Lived in the Castle, 1962
Nine Magic Wishes, 1963
Famous Sally, 1966
Come Along With Me, 1968 (Ward 7)
Shirley Jackson is a contradiction or perhaps just the other side of the idea of an author who fails to make any impression during their lifetime, and is only later discovered by a new generation. Ms. Jackson is an author who was successful both popularly and critically in her short working life, who is now almost forgotten, a thing both unreasonable and criminal (Ward 1). In a brief personal sketch produced for Twentieth Century Authors, she stated "I very much dislike writing about myself or my work, and when pressed for autobiographical material can only give a bare chronological outline which contains naturally, no pertinent facts" (Ward 2). Jackson kept to herself for most of her life.
One piece of work that Jackson got published was the story "The Lottery". This story was published in the June 28, 1948 issue of the New Yorker.
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- Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” is a story littered with warnings and subtext about the dangers a submissive society can pose. While the opening is deceptively cheery and light Jackson uses an array of symbols and ominous syntax to help create the apprehensive and grim tone the story ends with. Her portrayal of the town folk as blindly following tradition represents the world during World War II when people’s failure to not mindlessly accept and heed authority lead to disastrous consequences. . Shirley Jackson uses a large array of techniques to help convey the idea that recklessly following and accepting traditions and orders can lead to disastrous consequences.... [tags: Literary Analysis, Shirley Jackson]
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- Foreshadowing in Shirley Jackson's The Lottery "The Lottery," a short story written by Shirley Jackson, is a tale about a disturbing social practice. The setting takes place in a small village consisting of about three hundred denizens. On June twenty-seventh of every year, the members of this traditional community hold a village-wide lottery in which everyone is expected to participate. Throughout the story, the reader gets an odd feeling regarding the residents and their annual practice. Not until the end does he or she gets to know what the lottery is about. Thus, from the beginning of the story until almost the end, there is an overwhelming sense that something terrible is... [tags: Shirley Jackson Lottery Essays]
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- Why would a civilized and peaceful town would ever suggest the horrifying acts of violence can take place anywhere at anytime and the most ordinary people can commit them. Jackson's fiction is noted for exploring incongruities in everyday life, and “The Lottery”, perhaps her most exemplary work in this respect, examines humanity's capacity for evil within a contemporary, familiar, American setting. Noting that the story’s characters, physical environment, and even its climactic action lacks significant individuating detail, most critics view “The Lottery.” As a modern-day parable or fable, which obliquely addresses a variety of themes, including the dark side of human nature, the dange... [tags: The Lottery by Shirley Jackson]
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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.... [tags: Shirley Jackson Lottery Essays]
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- 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. In “The Lottery,” Shirley Jackson uses the symbolism of a stone to show the cruelty of the human nature.... [tags: Stoning, The Lottery, Rajm, Short story]
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- Shirley Jackson What is humanity's true nature. Are people basically good, or basically evil. Over the centuries, many people have tried to find the answer to this question, to no avail. Author Shirley Jackson takes a definite stance on the issue throughout her work, arguing that people are basically evil. Many times, this theme is obviously stated in her stories, but sometimes it is woven in more subtly. In her short stories "The Lottery,” "Elizabeth," and "Flower Garden," Shirley Jackson uses color to symbolize the cruelty and evil common in everyday life.... [tags: Literary Analysis]
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A survey of what little has been written about "The Lottery" reveals two general critical attitudes: first that it is about man's ineradicable primitive aggressively, or as Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren calls his "all-too-human tendency to seize upon a scapegoat", second, is describes man's victimization by, in Helen Nebeker's words, "unexamined and unchanging traditions which I could easily change if he only realized their implications." ("A Reading" 1). According to J.D. Chandler, Jackson seems to be conveying two main messages in this story. First she is telling us that the rural life we idolize in America, "the good old days", has terrible secrets at its very heart. She symbolically exposes the horror that supports the "good" life. Secondly she is illustrating the sacrifice of women. The American society that Shirley Jackson belonged to, and commented on in her writing, was one that depended on women for their work. It also demanded that a woman sacrifice herself and her ambitions, if they included anything besides raising a family, to the god of domesticity. Jackson starkly portrays the sacrifice that has been a part of the lives of all women ("Conflict" 2).
Was Jackson going for Cruelty or Human Nature? Theme involves ideas and insights. Theme carries the story, so without it you would not have a story that makes sense to the readers. McMahan, Day, and Funk write that "theme is the central or dominating idea advanced by a literary work, usually containing some insight into the human condition" (1105). In "The Lottery" setting and atmosphere, symbolism and character betrayal reveals a great deal about society and human nature.
The setting made my Jackson in the beginning of "The Lottery" creates peacefulness. The lottery begins happily "on a clear and sunny [day], with fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green" (Jackson 83-84). While the boys run around piling up stones. It begins as a perfect day. This setting creates an image in the mind of a typical town on a normal summer day. To begin, she tells the reader what time of day and what time of yea the story takes place. This is important to get the reader to focus on what a day is like in this small town. The time of day is set in the morning and the time of year is early summer. The town is a normal community. The town square is an important location for the setting since the ending of the story will take place there. The setting reveals the way the town is and it reflects on human nature and society.
Shirley Jackson maintains the comfortable atmosphere while introducing the people of the town. First, she describes the children coming and breaking into, "boisterous play" (Jackson 84). Finally, she describes the women of this community as "exchanging bits of gossip" (Jackson 84) which is common. Again, she creates a mood for the reader of small-town-residents on a normal summer morning. Up to this point in the story Jackson has not pointed out anything out of the ordinary which would create an ironic ending. As you start reading more of the story Jackson gives the reader small hints about the town. She points out the fact that the children are building "a great pile of stones in one corner of the square" (Jackson 84). She makes it seem normal that the children are gathering these rocks for what's happening later on in the day. These points might scare the readers and make the reader think that this town is not quite normal.
The introduction of the black box or the lottery box is the obvious key turning point. The black box symbolizes a wrongful act to the villagers. This is true in the fact that the villagers kept their distance from the black box. The introduction of the black box into the setting changes the mood and the atmosphere; it causes the villagers become uneasy around it. The black box is the key that changes the moos from peaceful to threatening. The reader starts to feel more and more uncomfortable, where as the everyday attitude of the townspeople remains the same, except for the victim. The strongest symbol in the story is the letterbox. It is painted black (which symbolizes death), stained (probably with blood), and worn-out. The box itself represents the bloody tradition of the lottery, yet even though it is worn out, people don't want to replace the box. They even refuse to fix the box although it is not the original black box.
One major point in the story has to do with Jackson's selection of Tessie Hutchinson as the lottery's victim/scapegoat. She could have chosen Mr. Dunbar, of course, in order to show us the unconscious connection that the villages draw between the lottery and their work ethic ("A Reading" 4). Tessie, after all, is a woman whose role as a housewife deprives her of freedom by forcing her to submit to a husband who gains his power over her by virtue of his place in the work place. Tessie, however, rebels against her role, and such rebellion is just what the orderly functioning of her society cannot stand ("A Reading" 4).
The elements of theme in "The Lottery" help to bring the story to life. The setting and atmosphere created a mood for the story. It helped the readers understand the characters and gave up a good understanding of how the people were raised. Theme is what a story is centered around and it allows us as readers to become a part of the story, without it you wouldn't have a story. It all started when she arrived late to the lottery. She explains to Mr. Summers that she was doing her dishes and forgot what day it was ("A Reading" 4). Jackson uses Mrs. Hutchinson to comment on the sacrificial role that women play in American society ("Conflict" 1).
Jackson places the village into the readers' time, most likely in the U.S. I found the third person narrator staying in the background a lot and he stays completely shy throughout the entire story. In spite of that and the peaceful mood created about the town everyone commits a brutal act by stoning an innocent person. They have made the bloody ritual a deception for their selfishness of wanting a scapegoat. Jackson shows that children, who do not understand the difference between right and wrong, have not yet been taught with society's values and cannot express the cruelty of human nature.
Bianca. "Shirley Ann Jackson." Facts and Bibliography. 4 April 2001. 28 November 2004. .
Chandler, J.D. "Conflict in Shirley Jackson's The Lottery." J.D. Chandler. (2000): .
Jackson, Shirley. "The Lottery." Literature and the Writing Process. Elizabeth McMahan, Susan X Day, and Robert Funk. 7th Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2002. 83-89.
Kosenko, Peter. " A Reading of Shirley Jackson's The Lottery." Peter Kosenko. 1984. November 9, 2004 .
McMahan, Elizabeth, Susan X Day, and Robert Funk. Literature and the Writing Process. 7th Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2002. 1105.
The Brother Judd. The Lottery. 2004. 15 Nov. 2004 .
Ward, Kyla. "House and Guardians." Shirley Jackson. 2004. November 9, 2004 .