Shirley Jackson’s very intriguing short story, “The Lottery,” was evidently quite the controversy when it first appeared in The New Yorker (Jackson 208). One can easily guess that the reason for such mass unrest was the story’s violent content. However, humanity is not always extremely kind; humans can be brutal creatures. In Ms. Jackson’s story, this theme of violence and cruelty is revealed, and one cannot help but wonder if all those New Yorker reviewers gave her negative feedback because they were insulted by the story’s realistic approach toward the human race. Ms. Jackson makes exquisite use of irony, symbolism, and implied man v. society conflict to make her readers understand that, in certain cases, society may actually accept what some of us deem immoral.
Since the beginning of time, people have been spreading about all sorts of concepts. Common sense would normally tell us which of these should be acceptable and which should not, but society does not always follow traditional laws. In “The Lottery,” the line between “acceptable concepts” and “unacceptable concepts” is blurred to the point where we can barely even tell that there is a line at all. The villagers in the story take to carrying out an annual lottery in which the so-called “winner” is awarded by being stoned to death. By today’s standards, getting stoned would not exactly be commonly considered a nice “award” for winning the lottery, and it is in this example that irony makes its grandest performance. Another big example of irony which I found was Mr. Summers’ name itself. This could quite possibly crossover into the symbolism category, but it is ironic in the fact that the word “summer” often brings to mind joyful imagery; Mrs. Jackson even describes Mr. Summers as being “a round-faced, jovial man” (209). However, in this story, “[t]he lottery was conducted… by Mr. Summers, who had time and energy to devote to civic activities” (209). It is strange that the... [continues]
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