The Lottery Essay Topics

Analysis of Shirley Jackson's The Lottery Essay

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“The Lottery” is a short story by Shirley Jackson, first published on June 26, 1948. The story was initially met with negative critical reception due to its violent nature and portrayal of the potentially dangerous nature of human society. It was even banned in some countries. However, “The Lottery” is now widely accepted as a classic American short story and is used in classrooms throughout the country. Jackson’s story takes a critical look at what can result when the customs and laws that govern society go unchallenged. She sets up the story by showing that the townspeople are quite normal. They attend the lottery while having everyday discussions about the mundane topics of life, such as taxes, food, and housework. Nevertheless, they…show more content…

Being the oldest community member, Mr. Warren is the only character in the story who displays any sort of connection to its original intent. The younger members of the community carry out the ritual in a detached manner. In addressing the difference in attitude between Mr. Warren and the other community members, A.R. Coulthard contends that, “Old Man Warner is usually taken to be the most allegorically evil devotee of custom, but he is merely the most honest”. Old man Warner is the only community member that still wants to do the lottery for its original purpose. He believes a sacrifice will bring a good harvest, while “the others are willing to risk their own life for the sheer pleasure of an unpunished annual killing” (Coulthard, A.R.). This leads readers to question whether human nature is inherently good or bad, a theme which Jackson explores through “The Lottery” Human nature is the distinguishing characteristics, including ways of thinking, feeling and acting that humans tend to have naturally. At the heart of “The Lottery” lies the question of whether the townspeople continue the practice due to their human nature, or if this cruel tradition leads the townspeople to continually act against their human nature. In answering that question, A.R. Coulthard clearly argues that “savagery fuels evil tradition, not vice versa”. However, Jackson never seems to make a strong statement that the nature of the

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