Mob Mentality

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Mob mentality is the act of one individual or small group initiates something and has quickly gathered a number of supporters. Many others tend to join in of the act, even if they know it is wrong. In “The Lottery” and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, both by Shirley Jackson, the author creates a vivid setting where mob mentality thrives. One major part of this environment is the people that inhabit it. There is Jim Donell, who terrorizes Merricat at every chance he gets, and Mr. Summers, whose jovial exterior manages to soften the fact that every year he runs the lottery. Jackson is well known for her style of gothic novels that feature persecution and hatred in small town New England. These two works are no exception. Shirley Jackson creates a setting where mob mentality is able to flourish through the everyday evil that resides in everyone, façades, and the hostile environment.

Despite the villagers’ exterior, they all are capable of evil. Mr. Summers is a kind man who also runs the lottery. In “The Lottery”, one sentence says, “The lottery was conducted- as were the square dances, the teen club, the Halloween program- by Mr. Summers” (1). This particular passage proves that although Mr. Summers runs things that benefit the community, he is also capable of running something that murders one innocent person each year. The narrator also describes Mr. Summers as “a round-faced, jovial man” (1). This passage shows that even though he seems kind just by his appearance, he is still capable of murder. In both Castle and “The Lottery”, children are portrayed as blindly cruel. They seem to almost not know what they are doing, just being cruel out of their own habit and what their parents have taught them. When Merricat is returning to her home from town, the children chant, “Merricat, said Connie, would you like a cup of tea?/Oh no, said Merricat, you’ll poison me./ Merricat, said Connie, would you like to go to sleep?/Down in the boneyard ten feet deep” (16)....
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