The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson Essays

The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson Essays

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In Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” irony is an underlying theme used throughout the story. Shirley Jackson involves residents in a preparation of following a longstanding traditional process of lottery. However, this proves to be a different type of lottery as the winner gets a different form of present. This is unknown to the reader of the story until when the story is almost over. Residents gather at 10 in the morning in the square that is located between the bank and the post office awaiting the arrival of Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves who conducts the lottery. These residents are very determined to carry out the lottery despite the fact that the reasons for the lottery tradition are fading away and thus loosing their importance and significance. Shirley in the beginning of the story creates a peaceful mood of representative town on a normal day in atypical town. This setting act as a good foreshadow of the ironic ending. Irony is a primary theme that is applied in the lottery story by Shirley Jackson.
The first element of irony is present in the first paragraph in the introduction; the setting is introduced as a “clear and sunny day” whereas the day ends with the death of a housewife which is a brutal stoning. The whole concept of a lottery in a layman’s language entails the winning of either cash or prizes, as a result, the reader is forced to be in a situation whereby he/she expects that at the end of the day a resident took a prize home but in the reality, they will be stoned to death by the rest of the residents. It’s very ironic that despite the consideration of the serious outcomes of the lottery, the residents do not make a big issue about it. In addition, most of the traditions the lottery such as the recitals and th...


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...hey are aware of the fact that their mother is about to be executed.
In conclusion, Shirley Jackson creates the mood for a typical town via the setting of the story. By applying the fine details she is able to foreshadow the ironic ending by using the setting of the story. For instance, she set the story in a normal summer day in a typical town. Second, she describes the children and the entire town in a normal way. Third, there is no presence of religion or authorities in the story. These aspects are supposed to aid the reader about the oddness of the setting. The ending is an ironic one from the start in that every resident in this town commits an unlawful act by stoning an innocent human being.


Works Cited

Jackson, Shirley. “The Lottery.” Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense. Ed. Laurence
Perrine. San Diego: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 2004. 40-47.

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