Symbolism in The Lottery by Shirley Jackson Essay

Symbolism in The Lottery by Shirley Jackson Essay

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In literature, symbols are often used to deepen the meaning of a story or to convey an idea indirectly. In “The Lottery”, Shirley Jackson uses symbolism to reveal the annual ritual that happens to be called the lottery, and the consequences of unquestioned traditions. Most people when drawing the lottery were more concerned with stoning one to death and their beliefs rather than the value of the human life that they were about to destroy. From the title of the story, to the ambiance preceding this ritual, one could assume that this will result in someone winning something, but with the usage symbolism, Jackson is able to use names, objects, and the setting to conceal the true meaning and intention of the lottery.
Jackson uses the names of each major character to hold significant meanings to the lottery. She uses symbolic names to indicate and foreshadow what will come to be after the lottery is conducted happens. First, the name “Dellacroix” (Jackson, 137) which translate to “Of the cross” in French provokes a sense of religious association with the ritual. Secondly, “Summers” (Jackson, 137) is the surname of the conductor of the Lottery, and summers are usually positive with people enjoying the sun. The lottery happens during summer, and Mr. Summers’s assistant is “Mr. Graves” (Jackson. 137). This hints that there will be a “Grave” during “summer”. Additionally, Mr. Summers is the owner of a coal plant, and coal represents a dark stone which correlates with the usage of the stone to end the life of Mrs. Hutchinson.
The objects used in the story also adds religious and symbolic meanings to the lottery.
The black dot on the paper represented death and the end of life of whoever was to pick that particular paper, it represents th...


... middle of paper ...


... because the symbols in the story were never fully explained. The story itself symbolizes tradition, unquestioned traditions that exist not just in the society of the lack of individuality and of critical thinking is a lack of action. If there is a problem and everyone thought of the same solution then there’s a sense of conformity. That conformity may prevent progress because there would be no one there to criticize. The Lottery strongly shows bandwagon effect because despite the marital union between Mr. and Mrs. Hutchinson, and the relationship between Mrs. Hutchinson and her son; Mr. Hutchinson participated in the stoning of his own wife. When in a group, people tend lose their individuality, and are often peer-pressured. The fact that Mrs. Hutchinson saved her son’s life but he took part in ending her life raises question about human faithfulness and gratitude.

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