Critical Paper on "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson

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About this sample


Words: 591 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Feb 7, 2024

Words: 591|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Feb 7, 2024

The story by Shirley Jackson centers around a small town that holds a lottery once a year, with the winner receiving a prize that is far from desirable. This essay will explore the historical and cultural context of the story, its literary elements, character analysis, and the controversy surrounding its publication.

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Shirley Jackson was an American writer known for her gothic and horror stories. She wrote "The Lottery" in 1948, and it was first published in The New Yorker. The story was inspired by Jackson's experiences living in a small town and the rituals that they would hold. In the story, the town holds a lottery that has been passed down for generations, and the winner is sacrificed for the good of the town.

The story is set in a time when conformity was highly valued, and there was a strong emphasis on tradition. The characters in the story are all conformists, and they do not question the morality of the lottery. The story can be seen as a critique of the conformist mindset and the dangers of blindly following tradition.

"The Lottery" is rich in symbolism, with objects and characters serving as representations of larger themes. The black box used in the lottery can be seen as a symbol of death, and the stones that the townspeople use to stone the winner represent the power of the community to destroy an individual. The characters in the story also serve as symbols, with Tessie Hutchinson representing the sacrificial victim and Old Man Warner representing the stubborn adherence to tradition.

The themes explored in the story are tradition, violence, and conformity. The story highlights the dangers of blindly following tradition without questioning its morality and the violence that can occur when a community turns on an individual. The story also serves as a commentary on conformity and the consequences of not challenging the status quo.

The use of foreshadowing and irony in the story adds to its impact. The opening paragraphs of the story describe a sunny day in the town, creating a sense of calmness and tranquility. However, as the story progresses, it becomes clear that something sinister is happening. The use of irony is also evident in the story, with the lottery being presented as a wholesome tradition that brings the town together, but it is revealed to be a violent and cruel act.

The character analysis of Tessie Hutchinson and Old Man Warner reveals their motivations and roles in the story. Tessie represents the victim of the lottery, and her protests against the unfairness of the process show the dangers of blindly following tradition. Old Man Warner represents the stubborn adherence to tradition and the belief that it is necessary for the survival of the community.

Upon publication, "The Lottery" received both praise and criticism. Some readers were shocked by the violence depicted in the story, while others praised it for its powerful message. The controversy surrounding the story and its themes continued for years, with some critics calling it "gruesome" and "sickening." In contemporary society, "The Lottery" remains relevant as a cautionary tale about the dangers of conformity and the consequences of blindly following tradition. The story serves as a reminder to question the morality of our actions and to challenge the status quo when necessary.

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In conclusion, "The Lottery" is a powerful story that explores the dangers of conformity and the consequences of blindly following tradition. Its use of symbolism, foreshadowing, and irony adds to its impact, and its relevance in contemporary society makes it a must-read for anyone interested in the dangers of groupthink.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Critical Paper on “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. (2023, February 07). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 25, 2024, from
“Critical Paper on “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson.” GradesFixer, 07 Feb. 2023,
Critical Paper on “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 Feb. 2024].
Critical Paper on “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Feb 07 [cited 2024 Feb 25]. Available from:
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