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Theme of Death in The Lottery

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Words: 714 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Mar 13, 2024

Words: 714|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Mar 13, 2024

In Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery," the theme of death is prevalent throughout. From the very beginning of the story, the reader is aware that the lottery involves a deadly outcome for one of the villagers. The narrative is filled with tension and suspense as the characters go about their normal routine, only to have their lives changed in an instant by the drawing of a slip of paper. This essay will explore the theme of death in "The Lottery," examining the implications of the ritual on the characters and the broader message Jackson is conveying about society.

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The concept of death is introduced to the reader from the outset of "The Lottery." The opening lines of the story describe a bright and sunny day, with the villagers gathering in the town square for the annual lottery. However, as the narrative progresses, it becomes clear that this seemingly idyllic setting is about to be shattered by the grim reality of the ritual. The reader is left to grapple with the juxtaposition of the cheerful setting and the impending death that looms over the villagers.

One aspect of the theme of death in "The Lottery" is the way in which it is woven into the fabric of the community. The lottery is portrayed as a longstanding tradition, with the villagers participating in the ritual without question. This blind adherence to tradition, even in the face of its deadly consequences, speaks to the power of conformity and the ways in which society can become complicit in perpetuating harmful practices. This is evident in the character of Tessie Hutchinson, who initially participates in the lottery with the same nonchalance as the other villagers, only to protest when she becomes the chosen one. This highlights the way in which individuals within a society can become resigned to their fate, even when it leads to their demise.

Furthermore, the theme of death in "The Lottery" raises questions about the nature of violence and cruelty within society. The nonchalant manner in which the villagers go about their business before and after the lottery is drawn is chilling, as it suggests a desensitization to the value of human life. This is underscored by the casual conversation and small talk that takes place as the characters wait for the drawing, indicating that the act of stoning someone to death has become routine and unremarkable. The story forces the reader to confront the darker aspects of human nature and the capacity for violence that lies just beneath the surface of seemingly ordinary communities. It serves as a stark reminder of the potential for cruelty and inhumanity that can lurk within the human psyche.

In addition, the theme of death in "The Lottery" can be seen as a commentary on the dangers of blindly following authority and tradition. The villagers unquestioningly adhere to the lottery, even though its origins and purpose are never fully explained. This blind obedience to an arbitrary and unjust system serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of relinquishing individual agency and critical thinking. It invites the reader to consider the ways in which societal norms and customs can be used to manipulate and control individuals, leading them to participate in acts that are fundamentally immoral and unjust. In this sense, the theme of death in "The Lottery" serves as a powerful indictment of the dangers of complacency and the need for individual autonomy and moral agency.

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In conclusion, the theme of death in "The Lottery" is a powerful and thought-provoking aspect of the story that raises important questions about society, tradition, and the darker aspects of human nature. By examining the implications of the ritual on the characters and the broader message Jackson is conveying about society, it becomes clear that the story serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of conformity, violence, and blind obedience to authority. "The Lottery" challenges the reader to consider the ways in which seemingly ordinary communities can become complicit in perpetuating harmful practices, and it serves as a stark reminder of the potential for cruelty and inhumanity that lies within the human psyche. Ultimately, the theme of death in "The Lottery" forces the reader to confront uncomfortable truths about the nature of society and the capacity for individuals to become complicit in their own demise.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Theme Of Death In The Lottery. (2024, March 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 16, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/theme-of-death-in-the-lottery/
“Theme Of Death In The Lottery.” GradesFixer, 13 Mar. 2024, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/theme-of-death-in-the-lottery/
Theme Of Death In The Lottery. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/theme-of-death-in-the-lottery/> [Accessed 16 Jun. 2024].
Theme Of Death In The Lottery [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 13 [cited 2024 Jun 16]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/theme-of-death-in-the-lottery/
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