Type: Literary Analysis
Pages: 3 | Words: 837
Reading Time: 4 Minutes

Shirley Jackson was a writer, a classic of American literature known as a master of psychological short-story. Her works of art are numerous and her talent was appreciated at her true worth. Such outstanding writers as Richard Mateson and Steven King were influenced by Jackson’s literature.

Despite the fact, that some written novels received the praised responses of critics and reader’s interest, Shirley’s most known work is the story “The Lottery”, which describes an unattractive wrong side of a rural small village in America. Linemaya Friedman, the author of Shirley Jackson’s critical biography, marks that “The Lottery” published in “The New Yorker” on June 26 1948, received such comments and reviews, which had been never received by any story published in “The New Yorker”. There were hundreds of letters, which, according to Jackson, can be qualified, as “shocked and old-fashioned malicious attacks”. “The Lottery” strongly contrasts with Jackson’s other works by tone, the main subjects of which were evil and darkness hidden under a surface of usual boring life.

Moreover, three movies were screened according to the motives of the story “The Lottery”. However, a short film screened in 1969 by Larry Just for a series of educational films for Britannica Encyclopedia became the best known in the world.

The archive of educational films recognized this short film “as one of two best educational films of all times”. Moreover, the plot of “The Lottery” was put down into the basis of Marilyn Manson’s video clip “Man That You Fear” where a shock-rocker appears in the image of a human anger’s victim.

According to the literary critic-feminist Elaine Showalter, all the works of Shirley Jackson are important for the literature of the 20th century, and they still receive the worthy estimations of the contemporaries.

Shirley vividly depicts usual everyday life; “The Lottery” can be considered as an exemplary work of art in the sphere of human relations, in the mankind’s vice to be wicked and malicious. Through irony and symbolism objects and characters, Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” reveals the inevitable destruction of a society when blindly following traditions.

The story’s heroes, environment and even weather are chosen so skillfully that the majority of critics consider “The Lottery” to be a modern parable, revealing all human vices, including a dark side of human nature, a danger of ritual behavior and threats of a herd instinct.

The main ideas of “The Lottery” include a strange union of decency and evil in human nature. Referring to James Fraser with his anthropologic researches of primitive societies, a lot of critics believe that the story reflects the ancient need of society to find a scapegoat, who can be endowed with the undesirable qualities and who can be ritually wiped out like a victim.

Unlike primitive societies, the inhabitants of the village represent the stereotype of the modern West-European society, which is endowed with social, moral, and religious bans. The commentaries to the story show that the ritual of stones throwing justifies an absolute absence of control and the masks of cruelty.

Being a modern parable, “The Lottery” shows a dualism of a human nature. It was understood as the solvation of such problems as complicity of society in minorities’ victimization, expressed in Holocaust during World War II.

Shirley Jackson depicts all the symbols in small details in “The Lottery”. The one prominent symbol, which is singled out from the rest, is Mister Joe Summers.

“He was a round-faced, jovial man and he ran the coal business, and people were sorry for him because he had no children and his wife was a scold”.

The lottery was his favorite activity. Every year he arrived in the village square with a black wooden box; it was really an occasion for him. Mr. Summers was a respectable personality in the village because of his honesty and politeness.

Anne Hutchinson is another interesting personage. The author made a hint on feminism movement choosing a woman to be the protagonist of the story.

“The name of Jackson’s victim also links her to Anne Hutchinson, whose Antinomian beliefs, found to be heretical by the Puritan hierarchy, resulted in her banishment from Massachusetts in 1638. While Tessie Hutchinson is no spiritual rebel, to be sure, Jackson’s allusion to Anne Hutchinson reinforces her suggestions of rebellion lurking within the women of her imaginary village. It indicates too that what the men of Jackson’s village seek to kill is a principle of rebellion that is specifically female and, I would argue, based in sexuality”.

“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson is an allegoric story about barbarism and humanism. It is not very difficult to solve the dynamics of the plot, but the reproaches concerning predictability are not suitable here. The story is written aiming not to shock and stun, but to ponder over it. It is about people and society in which we live.

“The Lottery” made me be under pressure from the first page up to the psychological final, which made me feel creepy all over the story.

In conclusion, it is necessary to say: “The Lottery” is a literature masterpiece, depicting all the imperfections of the Western system.

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