Violence and Human Nature in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” Shirley Jackson shows us in her short story “The Lottery” that violence is a part of human nature, and that it can be disguised in many ways. She conveys this using many different elements . Some of the ways she demonstrates the violence in human nature are particular events in the plot, ironic twists, foreshadowing, character development (or lack of it), and symbolism. Many events in the plot of the short story convey the theme of violence, and the ways that humans turn a blind eye towards it. For example, one child in the story was depicted this way: “Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones, and the other boys soon followed his example…”(Jackson 194). This quote shows us how people can use the “everybody else is doing it” mob mentality logic to rationalize violence. The people of the town disguise the evil tradition of the lottery by following orders without asking any questions. This happens several times throughout the story. The characters in the story never question the morality, or the reason for sacrificing a human life. Tessie’s own family does not even question it when they take part in stoning her to death. Shirley Jackson, the author of the story, uses tradition as a way for humans to excuse killing in many events in the plot. In the story, the villagers’ only reason for having the lottery is tradition for the sake of tradition. This is illustrated best by Old Man Warner, when he says “There’s always been a lottery”(Jackson 197). This is also
demonstrated by the fact that although they have done away with some of the more ritualistic parts of the lottery, like the salute and recital, they continue the lottery every year simply because it is a tradition in the town. Also these statements in “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson “the original paraphernalia for the lottery had been lost long ago…” (194), and when Old Man Warner says “Used to be a saying...
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