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Essay On The Lottery And What A Thought

988 words - 4 pages

Comparing The Lottery and What A Thought


The short stories I have chosen were "The Lottery" and "What A Thought" by

Shirley Jackson. Shirley Jackson is considered a morbid writer due to the fact that she

writes her stories with the intent to shock her readers into seeing the truth behind human

nature. Her work deals with an evil presence in everyday life. "The Lottery" is a chilling

tale of an everyday town and their annual lottery. It shows how cruel a town can be in

protecting their tradition and rituals and how not even friendship matters. The second,

being found in a collection of 50 short stories found after Jackson's death, shows how

quickly a wife of many years can turn on her husband without warning. Both stories

contained strong imagery and foreshadowing events leading up to the climax. "The

Lottery" was written shortly after World War II, however it is unknown as to when

Jackson wrote "What A Thought".

            "The Lottery" and "What A Thought" follow Shirley Jackson's usual scheme of

shock value. Both stories show of how quickly, no matter what length of time people

have coincided together and bonded together, one can turn on another. "The Lottery"

showed of how a small everyday town will do anything to hold their traditional values.

The town believed that they had to make a human sacrifice to the land in order to have

good crops. Therefore every year they held a lottery to find out who the sacrifice would

be. In the story "What A Thought" a husband who would do absolutely anything to keep

his wife happy was brutally killed just because that is the way his wife felt on that day.

These are things that tie in with what the world is like today with mobs and riots to

murders of husbands.


            The stories contain similar foreshadowing using different objects to show what is

to come. Both "The Lottery" and "What A Thought" contain an air of tension which show

that something bad is about to happen that the characters know about. "The Lottery" uses

the entire town whereas "What A Thought" uses the main character. Between the two

stories the object which is used to kill is not very different. Stones being used in "The

Lottery" are heavy and solid objects as well as the ashtray in "What A Thought". The

Box in "The Lottery" is black in color, the color of death. The Box would be the bringer

of death in that story due to the fact that it contained the papers which would determine

who was to be sacrificed. In "What A Thought" the ashtray, which contains ashes, which

is also a sign of death. These items and what they held...

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