Essay on Themes Of Horror, Irony, Domestic Tranquility, And Convention

Essay on Themes Of Horror, Irony, Domestic Tranquility, And Convention

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Widely acclaimed as Jackson 's masterpiece, "The Lottery" combines elements of horror, irony, domestic tranquility, and convention. The suburban setting of "The Lottery" is important. It was modeled after the Vermont community in which Jackson herself spent much of her adult life. The town in which the lottery takes place is described as an ordinary and pleasant community. The children were more than excited to play with each other in the upcoming summer. They tended to gather together quietly for a while before they broke into boisterous play. And their talk was still of the classroom and the teacher, of books and reprimands.” (Jackson 1). The adults are congenial and amiable. "They greeted one another and exchanged bits of gossip as they went to join their husbands" (Jackson 1). People are aware of others ' activities or illnesses, and they generally provide support for others. For example, a young man drawing for the first time elicits the following: "Don 't be nervous, Jack ... Take your time, son" (Jackson 4). The above details establish the setting of "The Lottery" as a pleasant, conventional town, the inhabitants of which are generally friendly and kind.
However, the setting is deeply ironic, for it serves to highlight the hypocrisy, brutality, and perhaps even inherent evil of human nature, or at least this town and nearby towns, even after centuries of supposed civilization. Initially, the reader has no idea what the lottery truly entails, which is a sanitized ritual in brutality. The “winner” of the lottery ironically gets stoned to death by the town’s people. They otherwise appear to be normal, not murderous, but this is just what they do every so often. In contrast to the true nature of the lottery and Mrs. Hutchinson ...


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...y is: senseless murder.
Probably what made readers most upset, beyond the banal brutality itself, was the realization that humans easily inure themselves to murderous rituals and that they themselves could see something of themselves in the awful irrationality of superstition. The rest of the short stories emphasize, time and again, how so-called civilized people are murderous, irrational, petty, and generally bad toward one another on a frequent basis. Jackson has told this story in 25 different ways; this is just the most extreme, yet horrifyingly realistic, version of the story of the hellish side of human nature. Does the society that we live in not have the unfair and unjust practices today that we do not deem to be unfair and unjust? We are the same as this short story in the fact that we both have our scapegoats and “reasoning” behind what we do as a society.

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