Conformity and Rebellion in “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson Essay
Conformity and rebellion are the controversial social issues that make people think about their roles and possibilities in regards to the circumstances they have to live under. It is not an easy task to create a good story about conformity and rebellion as the reader expects a lot from such work: positive social foundation, a direct message, several realistic characters for comparison, and the emotions that can prove that the chosen story is worthwhile.
Shirley Jackson introduces her own vision of society and the rules, which people prefer to follow. “The Lottery” introduces a small town with its citizens, who have nothing to do but to live according to the norms they have already set, confirm the expectations, and neglect the ideas of rebellion as they just do not have a right on it. In spite of the fact that the main prize of the lottery is death, the citizens continue believing in the power of the order and the necessity to organize the same event annually.
Though Jackson’s work is regarded as a cruel story with unrealistic characters, events, and an unexpected end that changes the understanding of human relations in society, “The Lottery” remains to be a powerful and educative short story and an exemplary literary piece of work about conformity and rebellion as it has a clear message to the reader, causes a number of different emotions, and makes the reader think about human morals, ethics, and duties that have to be fulfilled anyway.
The relationship between an individual and society is hard to establish properly as certain sacrifices and some explanations may be needed, and many actions cannot be avoided, and Jackson creates a good message for the reader on how to develop this kind of relations.
Jackson’s “Lottery” has a clear message – society may be created in accordance with people’s demands, still, people should be ready to neglect some aspects of their lives to achieve the necessary results. Though some readers are not able to understand this particular message in the story due to its abrupt and rather cruel end, still, it is wrong to deny the fact that the author leaves a message and pays a certain attention to it.
Another aspect of a powerful literary work is the ability to cause readers’ emotions, and “The Lottery” is one of the short stories that may cause a number of various emotions at the same time. People have to follow their traditions, respect the cultural norms they choose and treat each event as something inevitable and indestructible.
The story tells that all citizens show the same attitude to the lottery as “children assembled first… stuffed… pockets full of stones… the men began to gather, surveying their own children… the women… greeted one another and exchanged bits of gossip” (Jackson 1). It seems to be the usual description of ordinary life. However, in the end, when the reader gets to know that the main prize of the event is to be stoned to death, the emotions appear immediately.
On the one hand, it is impossible to believe that the interests of society are above the interests or even the life of one individual. On the other hand, such an explanation of the lottery is powerful evidence of a good story about conformity as people do not have a chance to choose but step in the already prescribed future.
Finally, Jackson’s story makes the reader think about the necessity to be a considerable part of society and accept all the challenges required.
Though it is not easy, and sometimes unacceptable, to believe that parents are ready to stone their children just to meet the demands of the village, the story proves its goals and makes the reader evaluate, compare, and analyze different situations thrown about the story like when Mr. Summers told about the necessity of “making a new box, but no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box” (Jackson 1) or when a saying “lottery in June, corn be heavy soon” (Jackson 4) was mentioned.
However, people’s attitudes to the event, inabilities to rebel the already set traditions, and unwillingness to fight for their own lives weaken the story. As a rule, literary works should teach the reader to be better, stronger, and ready for any kind of challenge, spread positive messages, and explain that good thoughts and actions must prevail over the bad ones.
It is hard to believe that death may be the only possible solution. Still, the presence of the above-mentioned factors and a general impact of the story show that Jackson succeeds in her intentions to describe the idea of conformity and rebellion neglect using unexpected still very powerful ideas and examples.
In general, “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson is a good literary example of how people set rules and follow them neglecting personal demands and ideas. It does not actually matter what readers may think about the story, its plot, the reality of its characters, or the quality of the messages. They still think, use their emotions, and learn the author’s message. And this is what makes good literature that excites, teaches, and inspires people from different parts of the world anytime.
Jackson, S. The Lottery. 2015. Web.
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