The Lottery

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The lottery – critical evaluation
Kathleen Bruce

“The lottery” is a short story written by Shirley Jackson. In 1951 it was published in the magazine “The New Yorker”. The story is about a small village that seems normal with a positive attitude to life and everything in it but in the end Jackson portrays how humans can be evil by writing about a women who is loved by everyone in the village and has many close friends and family within the village but is stoned to death by the people in the village including by her family and friends due to their beliefs that if they stone one person to death every year then their crops will grow. It shocked the readers immensely because it had such an unexpected ending to it. I am going to show in this essay how Shirley Jackson uses literary techniques to create depth of meaning in “The lottery”.

The story has an ironic setting. At the beginning, the reader is lured into a false sense of security due to the setting seeming so peaceful, but it later becomes a dark evil place. “The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny…; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green”. This description contrasts dramatically with the ending because it makes the reader believe that the story will be happy and joyful but ends with an extremely dark and horrific ending. It is more shocking than most horror stories due to setting being an unlikely setting for something so unpleasant to happen where as traditionally, horror stories have dark, depressing and frightening setting. The ordinariness of the villagers also helps to build up a false sense of security. In this story Shirley Jackson is trying to highlight that people can be so inhumane and horrible as to kill someone and that it can happen anywhere at any time to anyone.

Throughout the story the narrators stays very distant and describes what happened in an emotionless tone as if Tessie Hutchinson’s death wasn’t important. “And then they were upon her”.
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