Social Hysteria in Shirley Jackson's The Lottery Essay example

Social Hysteria in Shirley Jackson's The Lottery Essay example

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Social Hysteria in The Lottery


Tradition is a central theme in Shirley Jackon's short story The Lottery. Images such as the black box and characters such as Old Man Warner, Mrs. Adams, and Mrs. Hutchinson display to the reader not only the tenacity with which the townspeople cling to the tradition of the lottery, but also the wavering support of it by others. In just a few pages, Jackson manages to examine the sometimes long forgotten purpose of rituals, as well as the inevitable questioning of the necessity for such customs.

The black box represents virtually the only part of the original ritual that has been preserved since the lottery began. It is there not only to hold the papers that will be drawn, but also to represent to the townsfolk the tradition. The black box is constructed of pieces of the original box, a link to the time when the purpose of the lottery was clear. Most of the old custom has been forgotten: wood chips have been replaced with paper slips, and on one can remember the recital and ritual salute that had previously been part of the lottery; but the o...

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