The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson Essay example

The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson Essay example

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The 1940’s in America sparked a new era in history concerning violence and warfare. With the end of World War II, the world had just witnessed the most horrific event in all of modern history; 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, Shirley Jackson’s life was filled with graphic imagery of the violence existing throughout her world. 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. Quite the reverse: They are a sensitive and faithful anatomy of our times, fitting symbols for our distressing world of the concentration camp and the bomb” (“‘The Lottery’” 144). Many of Shirley Jackson’s writings contain ideas of gothic horror and violence, perhaps as an effort to convey her emotions on the current events in the mid 1900’s. Her story, “The Lottery” is a narrative about a village of three hundred residents who all come together each year to participate in a communal lottery. After two rounds of drawing, one to select the family, and one to select 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 due to 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 v...


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... 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 what good is being lost through the violence in the world, which is further exemplified through Atmosphere. 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 is able to gain a better understanding of his or her world and further apply 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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