The short story, “The Lottery”

Over the years many critics have wrote articles on Shirley Jackson’s numerous works. Many critics had much to say about Jackson’s most famous short story, “The Lottery”. Her insights and observations about man and society are disturbing; and in the case of “The Lottery,” they are shocking. “The themes themselves are not new, evil cloaked in seeming good, prejudice and hypocrisy, loneliness and frustration, psychological studies of minds that have slipped the bonds of reality” (Friedman).

Literary critic, Elizabeth Janeway wrote that, ” ‘The Lottery’ makes its effect without having to state a moral about humanity’s need to deflect the knowledge of its own death on a victim. That uneasy consciousness is waked in the reader himself by the impact of the story. Miss Jackson’s great gift is not to create a world of fantasy and terror, but rather to discover the existence of the grotesque in the ordinary world. (Janeway). Fritz Oehlschlaeger, a literary critic, stated that, “a conflict between male authority and female resistance is subtly evident throughout “The Lottery.

Early in the story, the boys make a ‘great pile of stones in one corner of the square,” while the girls stand aside “talking among themselves, looking over their shoulders at the boys. ” Critic Peter Kosenko explains that Jackson distinguishes male and female authority early in the story by showing how the children listen to their father’s orders, but not their mother’s “Soon the women standing by their husbands began to call their children , and the children came reluctantly having being called for or five times.

Bobby Martin ducked under his mother’s grasping hand and ran, laughing, back to the pile of stones. His father spoke up sharply, and Bobby came quickly and took his place between his father and his eldest brother”(Lottery). Jackson gives very plain, solid-sounding names to her characters Adams, Warner, Dunbar, Martin, Hutchinson, etc. “The name Mr. Summers is particularly suitable for sunny, jovial Joe Summers it emphasizes the surface tone of the piece and underscores the ultimate irony. Mr. Graves the postmaster and the assistant to Mr.

Summers in the administration of the lottery has a name that might well signify the tragic undercurrent, which does not become meaningful until the end of the story” (Friedman). Oehlschlaeger explains his meaning behind the name Hutchinson. “The name of Jackson’s victim 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 a rebellion lurking within the women of her imaginary village”(261) Helen E.

Nebeker explains that why traditions of men in “The Lottery” must be examined more closely “Until enough men are touched strongly enough by the horror of their ritualistic, irrational actions to reject the long perverted ritual, to destroy the box completely or to make, if necessary, a new one reflective of their conditions and needs of life-man will never free himself from his primitive nature and is ultimately doomed. Miss Jackson does not offer us much hope they only talk of giving up the lottery in the north village.

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