In this semester, we’ve read “The Lottery” and “Harrison Bergeron” from the textbook. They are two short stories; “The Lottery” was written by Shirley Jackson, and “Harrison Bergeron” was written by Kurt Vonnegut. This essay is to compare the similarities and differences between them.
The first similarity is that both of these dystopian stories demonstrate how people force themselves in a tradition that they have been told to follow even if they have an option to seek for change, and to explore the negative consequences of mob rule. In both stories, individuals within the community fail to think independently and refuse to question their preconceived traditions and beliefs. The consequences of this blind obedience to tradition are tragic. Both stories normalize cruelty, particularly in terms of questioning the Status Quo, and the tolerance of counterproductive social practices for the sake of obedience. There is also a similarity in that both stories show two very homogeneous societies that aim to maintain their unity through common practices that lead more to cause fear than to lead towards change. Furthermore, in the process of maintaining these traditions, both societies remain stagnant.
In "The Lottery", we find a village which is blinded by the fact that they have maintained an old practice without even questioning its purpose, or its rationale. The practice, which is to carry out a lottery in which the unlucky "winner", which was randomly chosen, will be stoned to death, is narrated in the story as an everyday occurrence that, to this day, nobody has ever questioned- even as morbid and inhumane as it is. The community members accept the absurd ritual of sacrificial stoning in order to "ensure" a good harvest. In "Harrison Bergeron," anyone who has more strength or intelligence than normal must suffer under the burden of extra handicaps. The oppression of the many over the individual are presented as normal, routine and unquestioned.
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