Shirley Jackson was a criticized female writer that wrote about US’s scramble for conformity and finding comfort in the past or old traditions. When Jackson published this specific short story, she got very negative feedback and even death threats. In the fictionial short story, The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson, a drawing takes place during the summer annually in a small town in New England. In this particular work, the lottery has been a tradition for over seventy years and has been celebrated by the townspeople every year. In detail, Richard H. Williams explains in his “A Critique of the Sampling Plan Used in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery””, he explains the process of how the lottery works. “The sampling plan consists of two stages. In the first stage of sampling, one family is randomly selected, and in the second stage, which is also the last stage, one individual within the family is chosen and selected from the first stage. The person that is finally chosen is declared the sacrificial victim.” According to Holly G. Willett’s, “The Journal of American Folklore”, she explains that during this era of time, the tradition of modern telling of the corn spirits’ demand for sacrificial victims so that a town can be blessed with crops of corn. With this, Tessie Hutchinson, the woman who arrives to the annual event tardy, gets her name drawn from the black box and becomes the victim that is offered up to the corn spirits. This unfortunate lottery will end with the result of civilians stoning one person out of everyone that lives in the town to death. With this, Jackson uses setting and symbolism to foreshadow an ironic and tragic ending to the story.
In this work, the scenery is very important to the story’s shocking en...
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... to stone someone to death for religious reasons.
In conclusion, symbolism is very evident and successfully used in the lottery to conceal the underlying meaning of the story through names and objects. The story itself symbolizes tradition vs. change and shows a unanimous mentality throughout all the individuals. This is implied due to Mr. Hutchinson participating in the stoning of his own wife. This story also shows that when people are grouped in conformity, they lose their individuality and are often peer pressured into things they aren’t really interested in doing. The story shows how fast someone can have a change of mind and heart through the illustration of Mr. Hutchinson going from joking with his wife to stoning her to death within a short period of time. The dark twist and heavy emphasis on religious symbols make The Lottery the dark mystery story it is.
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