Irony in the Lottery

Topics: The Lottery, Short story, Fiction Pages: 2 (786 words) Published: June 30, 2008
The Lottery is among fiction reader's favorites. There is no doubt about that. Reading the story arouses bewilderment, curiosity, as well as general interest, which could be accounted for its astonishing ending. However, some of its critics are also quick for checking. They counter that The Lottery's too unexpected finale attest the writer's literary inexperience. On the other hand, Shirley Jackson effectively used the aspects of suspense or horror all throughout in order to develop intentionally her seemingly unanticipated ending and generally the obscured meaning her story. Among the attributes frequently reproached in Jackson's The Lottery are its ambiguous dialogue and characters that are bluntly presented. The Lottery's character development is indeed indistinct whichever direction you look at it. However, Shirley Jackson used them as an advantage to develop her prevailing theme - the horror of man's evil. As part of the development of this centralizing theme, Jackson omitted the exacting characterization of a protagonist and/or antagonists. She does this by displaying everyone in the story as just an average person. The reader would have never determined from the beginning if it were Mr. Joe Summers or Old Man Warner, Mr. and Mrs. Adams or Mrs. Tessie Hutchinson who was the emerging protagonist. Yet this was for the reason that as supporting theme, all characters must be treated equally to prove that the ultimate sacrificial victim (the protagonist) could be anyone; henceforth to emphasize even more the horror of man's evil as central theme. The next point to consider is Jackson's imprecise style of delivering the short story. Again, this is purely intentional - the dialogue, tone, and the irony which are all but elusive. The dialogue jumps from expected to unexpected remarks, as with Mr. Summer's suggestions of replacing the black lottery box and the people's reaction including Old Man Warner's mention that it was “Bad enough to see young Joe Summers up...
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