ENGL 1302/ EVC/ P1
An Analysis of ‘‘The Lottery’’
Shirley Jackson’s short but disturbingly profound piece of work is titled ‘‘The Lottery’’.
The story focuses around a village on the day of their annual lottery. The town villagers have a misbelief that if they sacrifice one of their own, they will have good crops the next year. One by one in alphabetical order, the villagers draw a lottery. Mrs. Hutchinson ends up being the chosen one with the black dot on her paper. She proceeds by walking towards the center of the crowd and gets stoned to death. The central idea in ‘‘The Lottery’’ by Shirley Jackson suggest that people can sometimes blindly follow actions just because of its tradition.
The author builds up the main character Tessie Hutchinson so that it would seem like she deserves the cruel execution she is faced at the end. In the beginning, Tessie shows up late, wearing an apron, claiming that she had forgotten that today was lottery day. Even before the lottery has begun, she is already guilty of tardiness. After reading the story and its outcome, I wonder if
Tessie was dreading this day all along. When Tessie is in no sort of danger, she is gossiping away with the other ladies. She even encouraged her husband to draw the lottery. But when her name is chosen, her character changes completely. Thus, making her a dynamic character.
The central conflict in "The Lottery" is Individual vs. Society, showing the individual's struggle against collectively accepted norms. Tessie Hutchinson refuses to accept that her family,
and then she herself, has been chosen for the Lottery, but her protests are ignored and overpowered by the collective assurance of the ritual's acceptance. Old Man Warner represents Society, the purpose which is condoned by the village as normal and even virtuous. Tessie represents
Man, the individual who fights against norms but, in this case, is destroyed by them. Her fight comes from a selfish, personal desire for her family to be spared by the Lottery; since the society of the village expects every member to be equally invested in the outcome, her rebellion is quickly put down. The outcome of the story shows that Society, in this case, is victorious, and there is no sign that the Individual has had much effect on other opinions.
The author of this story uses the third-person dramatic point of view to tell a story about an un-named village that celebrates a wicked, annual event. In this point of view, the narrator is an unidentified speaker who reports things in great detail, even though the narrator does not play a role in the story. The use of the third-person point of view, with just a few cases of third-person omniscient thrown in, is an effective way of telling this ironic tale, both because the narrator's reporter-like blandness parallels the villagers' apparent apathy to the lottery, and because it helps build to the surprise ending by giving away bits of information to the reader through the actions and discussions of the villagers without giving away the final twist.
The setting of "The Lottery" has all the appearance of being a wholesome small town in rural America. Through imagery and detail, like "the flowers were blooming profusely, and the grass was richly green," Jackson conveys a pastoral feeling of a gentle summer. The men speak of tractors and farming, and the women wear "faded house
dresses and sweaters." Jackson's use of setting in "The Lottery" is one of the greatest