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Symbolism, Allegory And Plot In The Lottery, By Shirley Jackson

1044 words - 5 pages

The Lottery, Unlocking the Secrets
Of the many intriguing varieties of literary methods used to write most short stories, the author of The Lottery, Shirley Jackson, uses symbolism, allegory and plot to make this story stand out. Of the many literary methods of writing, Jackson used symbolism and allegory to her advantage. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary classifies symbolism as “the particular idea or quality that is expressed by a symbol” and Allegory as “a story in which the characters and events are symbols that stand for ideas about human life or for a political or historical situation”. Jackson also organizes her story with a striking, broad message, which takes the reader by surprise. ...view middle of the document...

In a literary review of The Lottery the author refers to the children’s symbolism a bringing “an awareness of the Hairy Ape within us all, veneered by a Christianity as perverted as Delacroix vulgarized to Dellacroy by the villagers.” From this, the idea is easy to grasp, that the role of the children is to exemplify and expose the selfish, beastly, and dark tendencies of the human culture. Adding to this, the same literary review also explains the symbolism behind Tessie Hutchinson’s name. The reader is left to gather, by understanding Tessie’s name which has roots in the Greek term for resurrection, the symbolic irony behind the situation, as she is killed by the ritual, versus hatred (Nebeker).
The author’s usage of allegories is another element of interest that is used in The Lottery. The first, visible theme, which places a horror twist upon the outcome of the story highlights many things. Mainly, that by “winning the lottery” the victim is actually loosing for the benefit of the community, meaning that by conducting the lottery, the town is providing an unconscious ideological mechanism of scapegoating (DuBose). The second, somewhat hidden theme, is one witch paints the human race in a grotesque reality of violence. The story’s final turnout became what would be criticized as cruel and grotesque. The story highlighted the truths behind the human tendency to be selfish, which shocked many readers to the point of disgust. In addition, Jackson, who herself experienced the cold treatment of her neighbors, implicated the system of American society as cold, injuring the pride of many Americans. Jackson did this by using American names that were popular early in America, and by stressing the presence of the stereotypical small town in the story.
The third, and seemingly most complex element of literature used in The Lottery is plot. This is done by Jackson setting up a vague story which covers a broad subject. The Lottery generally lacks complexity on the basis of character, but easily makes up for this by the creation of the tale as a shocking suspense that lacked the common...

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