Literary Analysis – The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

“The Lottery” created much controversy when it was first published on June 26, 1948, in an issue of The New Yorker.

Readers criticized Jackson for brutality underlying the rituals and value. Many readers were left at unease and had several questions that were left and remain untold in the story. Important details were left behind such as a specific setting and why the lottery started is what gives the story a sense of universality that can be used to correspond to real-life elements to reflect the dramatization of inhumanity and meaningless violence in our society. The symbolic ritual of the lottery suggests that communities that follow long-standing traditions without questioning its purpose or outcomes risk the dangers of conformity.

Jackson warns us about the dangers that lead to atrocities in our world because of people’s tendencies to follow tradition blindly when we aren’t fully aware of why we follow them in the first place. The Lottery gives us a picture of how far tradition can push people towards the wrong intentions. After reading the lottery many questions why the villagers kept on practicing this horrific ritual. Jackson leaves this question unanswered because we ourselves don’t know exactly why we continue to cling onto silly traditions for tradition’s sake. Why do we eat turkey on Thanksgiving? Why does a bride wear white for her wedding? Instead of trying to figure out why the villagers blindly accepted the lottery, we should question why we continue to blindly accept ours. Humanity’s blind acceptance is portrayed through the villager’s failure to understand the purpose of the lottery. We comply with what has been done in the past which leads to failure to innovate and incorporate something new without having our traditions holding us back.

As harmless as traditions may seem, they represent how easily we can be influenced to do something without even knowing why we do it. The themes of customs and tra…

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