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The Psychological Aspects of Shirley Jackson's The Lottery

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Words: 666 |

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4 min read

Published: Feb 12, 2024

Words: 666|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Feb 12, 2024

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson is a widely recognized short piece of literature in the United States. Published in 1948, it quickly gained popularity due to its psychological aspects. In this analysis essay, we will delve into the details of The Lottery, including the setting, themes, and other aspects of the story.

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The story revolves around an annual event called the lottery, where family members and friends randomly select a person in the city to be stoned to death. The original purpose of this event was to ensure bountiful harvests, but over time, the true reason has been forgotten. The author skillfully creates an atmosphere of normality around this horrific event, with every person in the village accepting it as a natural practice.

The preparations for the lottery begin the night before, with Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves compiling a list of the big families in town and creating lottery tickets. All the tickets are blank except for one with a black dot. The tickets are then folded and placed in a wooden box kept by Mr. Summers.

One of the prominent themes in The Lottery is the portrayal of humanity's sins. The story takes place in a remote American village where traditions and customs dominate the local population. Death is a recurring theme, symbolizing the final destiny of all the activities described in the story. It is seen as a redeemer for the atrocities committed by individuals against one another.

The characterization methods and the setting play significant roles in the analysis of The Lottery. While there are not many explicit acts that define the characters, the few actions that do occur offer insights into their personalities. For example, Mrs. Delacroix's quick temper is demonstrated when she picks up a large stone in frustration. This action portrays her determined nature (Jackson 76).

The events of the story reveal the hypocrisy and evil nature of humanity. The villagers greet each other and exchange gossip without showing any sympathy or concern for one another (Jackson 281). Although the lottery is expected to bring some benefit to the villagers, it ultimately achieves nothing of value. Jackson depicts horrific acts of violence in an ordinary and relaxed manner, highlighting the underlying human capacity for evil.

The author foreshadows the impending threat throughout the story, particularly through the character of Mr. Summers, who is in charge of the lottery, and his assistant Mr. Graves. While Mr. Summers is portrayed as a respected member of the society, his involvement in the lottery events reveals a violation of human rights (Jackson 282).

The names of the principal characters in the story also hold symbolic significance. For instance, Mr. Summers represents the essential theme of the plot, while Mr. Graves symbolizes the wickedness of the ordinary villagers. These names are intentionally chosen to emphasize the absurdity of the events (Marshall 3).

Despite the depravity and violation of human rights depicted in the story, the villagers show no fear or disgust. The evil and lack of morality transcend human brutality, as everything is done in a calm and consensual manner. Mrs. Hutchinson, who protests against the lottery, becomes its victim, highlighting the suppression of defiance (Hyman 46).

The main idea behind The Lottery becomes evident through the analysis of the story. People only start opposing cultural norms and laws when they personally experience the harm caused by them. Mrs. Hutchinson's death, despite her seemingly friendly demeanor, reflects the eternal evil nature of humankind.

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In conclusion, The Lottery exposes the mistreatment of humanity towards one another in compliance with cultural beliefs and practices. The story reveals the evil nature that lies beneath seemingly normal and ordinary occurrences. Shirley Jackson's message in The Lottery warns against blindly following traditions and highlights the danger of such conformity.

References:

  1. Hyman, Stanley. The Presentation of Evil in "The Lottery". 2000, New Jersey: Bantam Publishing Co.
  2. Jackson, Shirley. The Lottery. 1948, New York: McGraw-Hill Publishers.
  3. Marshall, Garry. Analysis of "The Lottery" a Short Story by Shirley Jackson. 2003, New York: Lori Voth Publishers.
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The Psychological Aspects of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery. (2024, February 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 25, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-psychological-aspects-of-shirley-jacksons-the-lottery/
“The Psychological Aspects of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery.” GradesFixer, 12 Feb. 2024, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-psychological-aspects-of-shirley-jacksons-the-lottery/
The Psychological Aspects of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-psychological-aspects-of-shirley-jacksons-the-lottery/> [Accessed 25 Feb. 2024].
The Psychological Aspects of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Feb 12 [cited 2024 Feb 25]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-psychological-aspects-of-shirley-jacksons-the-lottery/
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