Critical Analysis of The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson Essay

Critical Analysis of The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson Essay

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In the short story "The Lottery," author Shirley Jackson creates a very shocking and horrifying situation through the use of characterization, setting, and the theme of the individual versus society, which is portrayed in the story as scapegoating. She writes as if the events taking place are common to any town (Mazzeno 2). The story was very unpopular when first published, mostly because of the fact that people did not understand it. The story of the all-to-familiar town, ordinary in every way except for the ritualistic murder taking place has since grown great popularity, even being adapted for television, ballet, and radio (Lethem 1-2).

Shirley Jackson's short story entitled "The Lottery" was published in an issue of "The New Yorker" on June 28, 1948. Because it was such a controversial piece, the story caused an uproar resulting in hundreds of letters sent to Jackson. These letters told of how the story was horrifying and terrible to read. Most of them, however, wanted to know if the events taking place in the story realty happened and if they could go watch them. "One of the most terrifying aspects of publishing stories ... is the realization that they are going to be read, and read by strangers. I had never fully realized this before, although I had of course in my imagination dwelt lovingly upon the thought of the millions and millions of people who were going to be uplifted and enriched and delighted by the stories I wrote. It had simply never occurred to me that these millions and millions of people might be so far from uplifted that they would sit down and write me letters I was downright scared to open; of the three-hundred-odd letters I received [the summery "The Lottery" was published] I can only count thirteen ...


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...ing 1985): 27-32. Rpt. in Short Story Criticism. Vol. 9. Ed. Thomas Votteler. Detroit: Gale, 1992. 261-265.

Lethem, Jonathan. "Monstrous Acts and Little Murders." Salon. Jan. 1997. Salon Media Group. 6 Apr. 2005 <www.salon.com/jan97/jackson970106.html>

Mazzeno, Laurence W. "The Lottery." Masterplots II: Short Story Series N. p.: Salem, 1986. MagillOnLiterature. EBSCO. Southeastern Illinois College Lib. 29 Mar. 2005 <www.sic.edu>.

Nebeker, Helen E. "'The Lottery': Symbolic Tour de Force." American Literature. 46.1 (Mar. 1974): 100-107. Rpt. in Short Story Criticism. Vol. 39. Ed. Jenny Cromie. Detroit: Gale, 2000. 187-190.

Nelles, William. "The Lottery: Or, The Adventures of James Harris." Masterplots II: Womens Literature Series. N. P.: Salem, 1995. MagillOnLitarature. EBSCO. Southeastern Illinois College Lib. 29 Mar. 2005 <www.sic.edu>.

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