Essay about Theme of the Unexpected in The Lottery

Essay about Theme of the Unexpected in The Lottery

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Expect the Unexpected
What thoughts come to mind when you think of "The Lottery?" Positive thoughts including money, a new home, excitement, and happiness are all associated with the lottery in most cases. However, this is not the case in Shirley Jackson’s short story, "The Lottery." Here, the characters in the story are not gambling for money, instead they are gambling for their life. A shock that surprises the reader as she unveils this horrifying tradition in the village on this beautiful summer day. This gamble for their life is a result of tradition, a tradition that is cruel and inhumane, yet upheld in this town. Shirley Jackson provides the reader’s with a graphic description of violence, cruelty, and inhumane treatment which leads to the unexpected meaning of "The Lottery." Born in San Francisco, Jackson began writing early in her life. She won a poetry prize at age twelve and continued writing through high school. In 1937 she entered Syracuse University, where she published stories in the student literary magazine. After marriage to Stanley Edgar Hyman, a notable literary critic, she continued to write. Her first national publication “My Life with R.H. Macy” was published in The New Republic in 1941but her best-known work is “The Lottery.”(Lit Links or Reagan). Jackson uses characterization and symbolism to portray a story with rising action that surprises the reader with the unexpected odd ritual in the village. While one would expect “The Lottery” to be a positive event, the reader’s are surprised with a ritual that has been around for seventy-seven years , demonstrating how unwilling people are to make changes in their everyday life despite the unjust and cruel treatment that is associated with this tradi...


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actually consists of in this short story. At the onset of the story, Jackson uses the peaceful setting to confuse the reader as to the violent event that occurs. She continues to obscure what is actually going on in each character’s mind by writing in the third person with an objective view. The rising action that develops throughout the story continues to confuse the reader until which point the shocking ending is revealed. The unexpected harsh stoning of the winner in this short story is not what one expects when they begin to read “The Lottery”.





Works Cited

Coulthard, A.R. “Jackson’s THE LOTTERY.” The Explicator 48.3 (1990): 226-228.

Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Appalachian State University, 21 Sept. 2008

.

Francoeur, Brian. “Review of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery”. BrothersJudd.com.(1999).

7 Oct. 2008.

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