Shirley Jackson's the Lottery Literary Analysis

Shirley Jackson's the Lottery Literary Analysis

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  • Date Submitted: 08/11/2013 7:37 PM
  • Category: English
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A Deadly Tradition

English 1302

Summer 2 Online

August 4th, 2013

A Deadly Tradition

Throughout history people have united under a common purpose to create wonderful things.

Advances in medical research, progress in social equality, and coming together after natural disasters

are all examples of humanity at its best. Unfortunately where there is a capacity for goodness, there

is also one for evil. This 'dark' side of human nature transforms a society into vicious mob that

wreaks devastating havoc and destruction. In her short story The Lottery, Shirley Jackson uses

imagery and symbolism to offer a glimpse into the wicked side of humanity when the collective will

of a small town decides to exchange it's principles for superstition and adheres to a dangerous and

deadly tradition.

Mrs. Jackson's strategic use of imagery in the story gives the little town a generic

feel. The impression is given that this could very well be any small town in the rural

United States which causes an usual feeling of familiarity. The descriptions of the

environment as well as the characters 'lack significant individuating detail.' (Cromie 182)

The men of the village speak of “planting and rain, tractors and taxes,” (Jackson 220) and

the women, wearing plain house dresses or sweaters, 'exchanged bits of gossip.'

(Jackson 220) Jackson paints a picture of a small farm village that is patriarchal, in which the

women play a subservient homemaker type role. Considering this story was first

published in 1948, this portrays nearly every small rural town in the southern United

States at the time.

In contrast to the rather bland and generic feel of the little town, the symbolism

Jackson uses is robust. The black box represents the lottery itself. It 'grew shabbier

each year; by now it was no longer completely black but splintered...

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