Free “The Lottery” By Shirley Jackson Essay Sample

With the use of a horrifying and shocking mood, Sheryl portrays the   “The Lottery” as a scapegoat story utilizing on settings and characters to show the role played by individual versus the society.   The plot story develops on an annual upcoming event in a small town which the whole story revolves. The lottery gathering is a false setting deceiving the readers that the event is just like other social events in the society.  As the story unfolds, the readers later realize that the person who happens to win the lottery is normally stoned to death as a tradition of the small town. Shirley finds this so peculiar and through this story, she is out to convey to her readers how mankind is blinded by traditions.   She uses the activities in the story to indicate how mankind takes part in cruel activities regardless of how good their environment is.

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The setting brought out by Jackson at the beginning of the novel is that of a well lived town with peace and harmony yet it is the same place that all that evils occur. This is to mean that it is not about the environment leading to evil in societies but the nature of man. The atmosphere in the small town is comfortable with the residents taking part in normal activities. Children are seen talking in classrooms and taking part in boisterous play.  Women and men are seen gathered in the town center chatting about taxes and farming while other having gossips on the activities of the town. Beyond those happy and innocent faces lie hatred, revenge, cruelty and murder. Her use of comedy and irony was with one intention of suggesting to her readers the underlying hypocrisy, weakness evil of human kind in most of the societies.

Tradition has been a major set back in the development of many societies and Jackson does not leave the issue unmentioned.  She creates the setting of the story to be a small village where tradition is paramount to its people who are closely related. The lottery is the outstanding event in the book. It is an event held every year with a person being chosen at random from the town by the use of a drawing who ends being violently stoned by family and friends to death. The ironical part of the event is that the stoning is carried out by close friends and family to the victim just because it is the tradition of the town.

 The drawing used to choose the victims to be stoned has existed in the society for more than seventy-seven and every member of the town takes part in it yet no one has ever stood out to oppose it despite its consequence. This is a clear indication of how members of this society have been totally blinded by traditions to the extend of taking part in cruel activities in their own backyard and towards their own families and close friends.

The event also shows how ignorant the members of the society were in the way they programmed and looked forward to the event and welcomed it yet its climax was death.  Jackson makes use of irony and tone variation to create the atmosphere of the event making it look like any other normal event. She describes women exchanged gossip bits and happily greeted each other prior to the event. The drawing is so anticipated by the villagers as if the winner of the event will be triumphed. The villagers celebrate and anticipate the death of other members in the name of tradition.

The events in the story helped Jackson convey her massage regarding human evil and hypocrisy.  The set up of the lottery is in a very mundane town where individuals are typical and everyone knows the other.  Even families carry with them the very ordinary names of Martin, Warmer and Anderson.  Through such a set up, Jackson is able to portray extreme evil in a friendly and ordinary atmosphere suggesting that people may not always be as they seem. This is to mean that underneath an individual’s outward congeniality, there may exist a pure evil. Jackson makes use of symbols from the beginning of the story to make it clear to the readers the pointless humanity nature regarding violence and tradition. She introduces to the readers the black box which ends up being the central theme in the story.

At first it is made to symbolize a type of mystery but as the story unfolds, the reader realizes the box is synonymous with doom.  The fate of someone lies in an inanimate black box.  The black box symbolism is used as a key tool in the book in understanding the tradition importance in the context of this book. This is evident when its introduction into the story changes the atmosphere and mood of crowd. This is because the box contains the key between death and life for each and every member of the society.

 It embodies all the evil actions executed in history and the ones yet to come. Even the color used on the box is another symbol of evil. The box is black in color which is universally known as the symbol for death and evil. The extend as to how much the villagers are blinded by tradition is seen when they anonymously refused a new box to be made as they were determined to stick to the traditional one. 

Through The Lottery” Jackson depicts the patriarchal and old fashioned societies that are rich in barbaric trends and superstition.  The random stoning of villagers every year is of no reason other than the act was a trend observed in the village over the years. This is a clear message from Jackson warning against outdated beliefs and practices. According to her, despite the fact that some traditions remain deeply rooted in societies, members of such societies pass them down to their children.  Tradition should be considered as a definition of the universe allowing people to grasp the things they consider real or give purpose to their insignificant lives.  Tradition comes between most people’s eyes and change as they fail to see and enjoy change even if it may be beneficial to them.

 The box in this book is symbolic of the society’s loathing of change.  It was splintered and old indicating how the society clings to what is familiar to them than change. The lottery as an event represented the human psyche paradox between compassion and thirst for cruelty and violence on one another. Children are seen enjoying as they play at school and the next minute rational adults appear stoning someone to death. Tradition is seen to have blinded the society members in an irrational way to the extend that they are unable come up with reasons why such possibility should not be happening. 

Jackson managed to convey her massage across contemporary represented western societies through the possessed religious, social and moral prohibition against the yearly lethal stoning.  It is very ritualizing to have murder being palatable to seemingly decent people as the ritual and fulfillment of tradition masks and justifies the brutality. “The Lottery” can be considered as being a modern parable covering the human nature dualism in the way it addressed issue such as public fascination with scandalizing and salacious victimization.


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