A Comparative Study of Symbolism in The Lottery and The Most Dangerous Game
The Lottery is a short story based on a small town with 300 residents and all families are known to each other. It is during the autumn and the residents are anxious and excited about the lottery. Lottery is an age old tradition practiced by the town people each year. It is believed that Lottery in June leads to a heavy corn harvest. Pieces of paper are put in a black box, later on, they are drawn and the family that picks the paper with a black spot wins the lottery. In the end one of the members in the winning family is stoned to death by the entire town’s population. Tessie, a mother and a wife becomes the victim and is stoned to death despite her pleas for mercy. In this town, tradition outweighs logic and basic humanity.
The most dangerous game is a story based on two friends Rainsford and Whitney who are on a hunting expedition to Rio de Janeiro in search of the big cat; jaguar. Little do they know that they are about to become the prey to a hunt by Zaroff and Rainsford is almost murdered in a hunting game. Conversely, Zaroff underestimates Rainsford and in the end he becomes the hunted and is killed based on the rules of his own game. Indeed Rainsford gets the thrill of hunting and catching his prey.
Both writers use symbolism in their stories; in the Lottery, Shirley constantly refers to a black box used to store the pieces of paper. The box represents a bad tradition that is based on unfounded belief and passed down from generation to generation without any tangible proof. The lottery process itself is a symbol of illogical beliefs that are embraced. In the story, we are told of how the people went on their daily activities before and after the lottery without the slightest concern on death. Stones symbolize hardness and cruelty of the people using everyday methods. Children collecting the stones represent how the tradition is passed down from one generation to the next without proper explanation as to the premise of the act.
In Richard Connell’s most dangerous game, the jungle is used to symbolize the complex thinking processes used by Zaroff in hunting and killing fellow hunters that come to the island. The Island is also used to represent the isolated life that he lives while darkness in the jungle represents the evil and death that prevails in the island. The light that comes from Zaroff’s house represents his level of trickery equal to that of trapping a moth by attracting it to some light in a dark room. The light also represents a sense of victory for Rainsford after a near encounter with death at the hands of Zaroff.
Connell uses imagery while describing the evil in the island and living conditions of Zaroff. He has a dump servant who adheres to his every whim and finds pleasure in torturing hunters. Conversely, he is tied of that life and seeks to recruit Rainsford to be a companion. When he refuses the offer, Zaroff gives him a head start and hunts him like a wild animal, Rainsford outsmarts him by laying traps, imagery is used to describe these traps and how they turn the hunted to the hunter.
Shirley uses irony in the lottery by describing how close knit the people of the town were and how the families knew each other. He paints a picture of love, solidarity and oneness, however upon Tessie ‘winning’ the lottery even her own husband and children turn against her and stone her death without a second thought. The randomness of the lottery and the quick way in which death to the innocent is executed means that there is no love for each other; the harvest is more important than the people’s lives.
Connell uses irony when he asserts that Zaroff saw Rainsford as an easy prey and when he caught him the first time, he let him go since he was seeking for thrill and wanted to play the cat and mouse game. He even thinks that Rainsford commits suicide by jumping off a cliff into the sea, little does he know that he had survived and waiting for him in his bedroom just to kill him. The mouse was more mischievous than it was believed to be.
Shirley uses a more friendly and lively tone in describing the town people and their activities. He describes their anxiety for the lottery and their anticipation for the next corn harvest to be heavy. Connell uses a stern and sober tone to describe the dark atmosphere that hovered over the island’ the darkness, the small light, the wrecked ship, the lonely islander and his dumb servant.
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The Lottery is a short story based on a small town with 300 residents and all families are known to each other. It is during the autumn and the residents […]