Necessary Sacrifice In The Lottery, By Shirley Jackson

1155 words - 5 pages

When Shirley Jackson first published her short story “The Lottery,” it caused a great deal of controversy. It warranted high critical acclaim, but it also brought threats to Jackson’s life. The public was outraged that she would write such a violent story, which ended with the unmerciful killing of an innocent woman. The violence in response to the story ironically reflects the violence within, and reveals a darker, yet necessary, part of the human psyche. The characters in “The Lottery” require the violent ritual to live peaceful and happy lives. The violent tradition is beneficial to the town’s people because it supports a healthy group psychology, is a conditioned behavioral norm for every generation, ensures the majority’s well-being, and is integrated into their religious belief.
The town’s collective mental state is kept in balance by holding a lottery each year. Human beings are capable of great things, but interlaced with the possibility for greatness is a capacity for destruction. David Livingston Smith, a professor of philosophy and the director of the Institute for Cognitive Science and Evolutionary Psychology at the University of New England, discusses man’s history in his book The Most Dangerous Animal: Human Nature and the Origins of War. He admits, “[Human beings’] noble achievements are only half the picture. They exist side by side with an array of less appealing characteristics,” (41). Violence and cruelty amongst the species is part of our most basic human nature and has proved to be unavoidable throughout history. A prime example of the capabilities of man against itself is the Holocaust, which has been theorized to be the symbolized subject of Jackson’s story. However, “The Lottery” shows a healthy, structured system in which humanity can manage their aggressive tendencies, whereas the Holocaust epitomizes man’s descent into mass hysteria. The lottery acts as an outlet for the aggressive part of the town’s nature, allowing them to be a functioning and thriving community.
The second way the lottery benefits the people of the town is by providing a symbol of social normality for each generation. Jackson demonstrates the total conformity of the society by first describing the children’s actions in relation to the lottery. One of the young boys “[has] already stuffed his pockets full of stones, and the other boys soon [follow] his example.” Collecting the stones is like a game to them, and although the purpose of the stones is violent, the children think nothing special of the behavior or its motives. This is due to having been raised in an environment in which the tradition has been engraved. Every new generation’s mindset is further influence by that of the older generation. Represented by Old Man Warner, the older generation is already set in its beliefs, and not susceptible to change. When confronted with the idea of discontinuing the lottery, he protests, saying that those who want to end it are a “pack of crazy...

Find Another Essay On Necessary Sacrifice in The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson

Symbolism in The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson

737 words - 3 pages The Lottery: Symbolism In her story “The Lottery”, Shirley Jackson manages to catch the readers’ attention and ultimately shock them with an unexpected ending; all of which help her emphasize her critique toward the dark side of human nature and the evil that resides, sometimes, in those who we less expect it from. Jackson uses symbolism throughout the story that helps her set the mood and also makes the readers wonder and analyze the senseless

Tradition in The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

1634 words - 7 pages Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery is a story about a small town’s tradition. Every summer the town’s people gather in the square for a ritualistic drawing of names, however, the winner of the drawing will lose their life. No one in the village questions the sadistic ceremony, everyone simply complies. Jackson suggest that the tradition is as old as the town and thus many portions of the ceremony have long been forgotten yet the villagers are

The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson

636 words - 3 pages December 14, 1916. Her family moved East when she was seventeen, and she attended the University of Rochester. In 1948 The New Yorker published Jackson’s “The Lottery,” which brought forth the largest volume of mail ever received by the magazine, almost all hateful ( Shirley Jackson's Bio). “The Lottery” was published at a time when America was scrambling for conformity. Following World War II, the general public wanted to leave behind the horrors

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

1711 words - 7 pages Shirley Jackson, born on December 14, 1916, devotes much of her life to the writing of short stories and novels. Some of these include The Sundial, The Haunting of Hill House, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Jackson's stories, inspiring and influential to most, are also controversial to some. Her most controversial story, published in 1948 in The New Yorker, is "The Lottery." The purpose for the writing of the story varies depending

The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson

2292 words - 9 pages writing that violence exists in all places and though viewed as a necessary evil by some, peace ought to be the sought after tradition in such a wicked world. "The United States during the late 1940s and 1950s was largely a patriarchal society, one in which women were expected to stay at home and raise the children. Recent critics have interpreted “The Lottery” from a feminist perspective, suggesting that Jackson was commenting on the role of

"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson

1625 words - 7 pages In her story "The Lottery," Shirley Jackson tells the story of evil blind rituals of a society in a small village. Villagers gather together in the central square for the annual lottery. There is much excitement and interest as the rituals of the event proceeds. Mr. Summers has a small box where small pieces of paper are folded and stored. The box is placed in a specific place. In the first round, the names of heads of families are called one at

"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson

620 words - 2 pages The various changes of environment always affect people’s life. Human being tended to select the best life styles to fit the nature, and to better adapted to the world. Darwin’s idea of adaptive changes applied to the short story “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. In the story, the small town kept holding the lottery, while other towns refused to continue the lottery. The towns’ refusal illustrated that the villagers in

The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson

2133 words - 9 pages attempt to portray the graphic realities of life during this time period, Shirley Jackson cleverly expresses the grim facts with her use of literary techniques. Though greatly criticized for its inhumane pictorial of callous brutality, Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” illustrates through the characterization of Mrs. Tessie Hutchinson, the use of atmosphere, and allegorical writing that violence exists in all places and though viewed as a necessary

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

707 words - 3 pages In ancient time, tradition usually helped people to find their way and to develop their personalities. However, tradition could blind people by being destructive and creating victims through social pressure. Shirley Jackson's story ''The Lottery'' portrays an ordinary New England village with average citizens engaged in a deadly rite, the annual selection of sacrificial a victim by means of a public lottery. Jackson proves her point by Miss

"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson.

691 words - 3 pages The Lottery is such a complex work that even the author, Shirley Jackson couldn't explain it when questioned of its meaning. Division of Labor and Capitalism are huge themes in this story. And there is also the position that man is not yet so advanced that he still won't hesitate to perform acts of violence if it is acceptable to the general populace. There is the "monkey see monkey do" complex, which is also illustrated. And I could go on for

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

1317 words - 5 pages The Lottery by Shirley Jackson I was watching an episode of “The Simpsons” on TV the other day, and there was a craze around town because the Springfield Lottery was up to 130 million dollars. Bookstores were selling out of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”. Homer quickly threw the book into the fireplace when he realized that the book could not tell him how to win the lottery, that it was a book about time old traditions, barbaric, but

Similar Essays

Human Sacrifice Vs. Ritual Murder In The Lottery, By Shirley Jackson

1592 words - 6 pages with horror. In the short story “The Lottery" the author Shirley Jackson begins the story by painting the picture of serenity using the following quote. “The morning of June 27 was clear and sunny with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day” ( 247; chap. 7) . This statement itself suggest that the day in question was just like any other day. However, her intentions were to put the reader at ease with the thought of a sunny day

Symbolism In The Lottery By Shirley Jackson

855 words - 3 pages In literature, symbols are often used to deepen the meaning of a story or to convey an idea indirectly. In “The Lottery”, Shirley Jackson uses symbolism to reveal the annual ritual that happens to be called the lottery, and the consequences of unquestioned traditions. Most people when drawing the lottery were more concerned with stoning one to death and their beliefs rather than the value of the human life that they were about to destroy. From

Symbolism In The Lottery By Shirley Jackson

615 words - 2 pages Symbolism in The Lottery by Shirley Jackson Thesis: The short story "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson found in Perrine's Literature written by Thomas R. Arp is a story full of symbolism. I. Names are used to represent different aspects of the story. a. Mr. Summers is a bright and cheerful man. His attitude, demeanor, and name represent the summer. Mr.Graves' name represents what is about to happen. They are sending someone to their grave

Irony In The Lottery By Shirley Jackson

557 words - 2 pages Irony in The Lottery by Shirley Jackson “The Lottery” is full of irony. Shirley Jackson most likely intended to use this amount of irony to make the over all story funny in its twisted theme. Each layer of irony used, prepared the reader to have the most dramatic reaction to the last and final blow that wrapped the whole story up. I would say the most major and obvious type of irony used here was situational irony. Jackson