Dramatic Irony In Shirley Jacksons The Lottery

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Dramatic Irony In Shirley Jacksons The Lottery



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The Lottery by Shirley Jackson - Themes

What the reader sees is a small, close? The story focuses on the tension of the crowd while the lots are drawn by the head of each family. The reader is even more surprised when the winner or, more accurately, the loser is so upset that she tries to award someone else with the honor. At the end of the story, we find out that the prize for being the winner of the lottery is that the winner will be killed by stoning. A beautiful women who is poverty stricken loses what she presumes to be a valuable necklace.

After losing the necklace, she and her husband become engulfed in debt by borrowing from usurers and friends in order to replace the lost necklace. The couple spends years living in poverty while repaying the debts. There are a number of excellent examples of dramatic irony in the story. The basic idea of the lottery as something, which in our society is generally a good thing, being evil is the chief irony of the story. This helps to strengthen both the surprise and horror of the story. In addition, it helps to keep the reader from catching onto the basic idea of the story.

Just as important is the irony that is found just over halfway through the story. At this point, two men are discussing a town that has stopped performing the lottery. Nearly everything in the story is symbolic. The most basic of these symbols being the lottery itself. This can represent a number of different ideas, but the most basic is that of tradition and specifically unquestioned traditions. Many of them are simple and unimportant like Christmas trees and far more sinister ones such as racism and sexism are still troublesome today and were even bigger problems in when this story was published.

The difficulty of all of these is that they are far harder to see in our own society than in those we are less familiar with. By removing us from our own comfortable traditions we can see the dangers easier. The method of execution is also clearly symbolic. The picturesque setting contrasts sharply with the horrific violence of the conclusion. The story takes place on a beautiful summer day with flowers "blossoming profusely" and the grass "richly green. Just as fine weather and family gatherings might lead us to expect something positive, so, too, does the word "lottery," which usually implies something good for the winner.

Learning what the "winner" really gets is all the more horrifying because we have expected the opposite. Like the peaceful setting, the villagers' casual attitude as they make small talk— some even cracking jokes—belies the violence to come. The narrator's perspective seems completely aligned with the villagers', so events are narrated in the same matter-of-fact, everyday manner that the villagers use. The narrator notes, for instance, that the town is small enough that the lottery can be "through in time to allow the villagers to get home for noon dinner. Readers may find that the addition of murder makes the lottery quite different from a square dance, but the villagers and the narrator evidently do not.

If the villagers were thoroughly numb to the violence—if Jackson had misled her readers entirely about where the story was heading—I don't think "The Lottery" would still be famous. But as the story progresses, Jackson gives escalating clues to indicate that something is amiss. Before the lottery starts, the villagers keep "their distance" from the stool with the black box on it, and they hesitate when Mr. Summers asks for help. This is not necessarily the reaction you might expect from people who are looking forward to the lottery.

It also seems somewhat unexpected that the villagers talk as if drawing the tickets is difficult work that requires a man to do it. Summers asks Janey Dunbar, "Don't you have a grown boy to do it for you, Janey? The lottery itself is tense. People do not look around at each other. Summers and the men drawing slips of paper grin "at one another nervously and humorously. On first reading, these details might strike the reader as odd, but they can be explained in a variety of ways -- for instance, that people are very nervous because they want to win.

Yet when Tessie Hutchinson cries, "It wasn't fair! As with many stories, there have been countless interpretations of "The Lottery.

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