4 May 2015
Theme in The Lottery and The Hound of the Baskervilles The characters in The Lottery by Shirley Jackson and The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle share similar themes. In The Lottery the characters have to face a ‘tradition’ where the whole town is afraid to be chosen to win the lottery, knowing the person who wins will be stoned to death. As in The Hound of the Baskervilles Sir Henry Baskerville has to face the ‘tradition’ of the hound, known to killing the Baskervilles. “To know what the theme is in the stories it is an idea that is often a reflection on human experiences. It is often composed from an assessment of the circumstances surrounding repeated objects or symbols in the stories. The central theme can also be identified by examining the characters strengths, weaknesses, values, thoughts and actions. The theme is not clearly stated, so your notes are important to identifying and evaluating the book’s central theme. The theme of a novel, or meaning of a novel, happens beneath the surface and it is basically the lesson that the surface story teaches us or the conclusion that can be drawn from the events” (Theme). Since the theme is the guiding message of the story, it can be broken down to be described. In The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Lottery, the themes can be described as what goes around comes around, greed is a powerful motivator, appearances can be not what they seem and we cannot be ruled by our fears.
Lopez 2 The following are the themes broken down, in The Hound of the Baskervilles the first theme is clear in that Hugo Baskerville who tried to lock up the young lady and then chased her down until the hound got him. This was because of a curse, of the natural consequences of his violent and thoughtless actions. This also shows in his family’s reputation being ruined by the curse. “Such is the tale, my sons, of the coming of the hound which is said to have plagued the family so sorely ever since” (Doyle 9). The same theme follows Stapleton, because his harsh behavior was his destiny. Greed is a strong presence in the book. Stapleton planned to cover his identity as being a Baskerville, that way he would murder everyone in the family so he can have the money all to himself. It was what caused the original Baskerville to lock the young lady up and what led Stapleton to make believe as a simple naturalist. “He might claim the property from South America, establish his identity before the British authorities there, and so obtain the fortune without ever coming to England at all;” (Doyle 124). The lack of greed in Sir Henry Baskerville, Holmes, and Watson is a great contrast.
Almost no one and nothing is what it seems in The Hound of the Baskervilles. From the hound to the convict, things and people are revealed throughout the story as different from what is expected. The same is true of Holmes, since he is supposed to be in London but is really hiding on the moor. The supposedly harmless Barrymore’s are harboring a convict, and Stapleton is not only the murder, but his sister is really his wife. Sir Charles Baskerville is so focused on his fear of death and the hound that he allows his judgment to be impaired. At times, Watson and Sir Henry are also afraid, but they survive because they keep their reason about them and refuse to surrender to fear.
As for the themes in The Lottery, there is the unwillingness of people to reject outdated traditions, ideas, rules, laws, and practices. As the villagers continue the lottery year after year Mr. Summers spoke frequently asking the villagers about making a new box, “but no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box” (Jackson 140). Put another way, this theme says, “We have always done it this way. Why change now?” The second theme would be society wrongfully names scapegoat to bear the sins of the community. According to some