Essay on Different Aspects of Human Nature in the Lottery by Shirley Jackson
The dystopian story is a kind of science fiction. It always sets up in a “what if” society that the author pushed one or more social problems to an extreme condition. ‘The Lottery’ was written by Shirley Jackson and it was first issued in 1948. At that time WWII had just ended, it had uncovered the cruelty and violence that hidden in humanity 27 years after the Great War. Shirley Jackson pointed out and discussed how humanity treated violence in this sort of story. I will be indicating and arguing about three different human natures and why they are important to think about. Human is undeniable self-preservation to the degree of our lives. A few billion years ago, our ancestors, Homo sapiens, massacre all other human species made us the overlord of this planet. Like what Charles Robert Darwin said, we are the “survival of the fittest”. Human is always willing to sacrifice others to save themselves because all the animals do to survive. In ‘The Lottery’ after Bill Hutchinson got the paper with the dot on it, Tessie event wants her daughters to draw, who had married and should draw with their husbands, to increase her chance of living. Tessie was quite enjoyed in the lottery at first. However, she only stood up to protest ‘It isn’t fair, it isn’t right’ because she is the one who’s affected. It was clearly too late then.
But how could other villager give up the opportunity to save themselves from sacrifice? So, they reminded Tessie “all of us took the same chance”. Jackson gave her a point of view about human’s self-preservation in this text, that people would accept violence or other actions as long as it doesn’t harm themselves directly. It is important to think about our humanity. It helps us to know better and the real selves, although sometimes human nature could be cruel and dreadful. This dystopian story had also warned us what would happen if we don’t have the right control to our self-preservation, and how terrible it could be. Our society has an unwritten rule that is many against the few or we can say the minority is subordinate to the majority. I think it is human nature to conform to the big flow. We feel more secure when we are with the most. Therefore, people sometimes seem forgot to question, that is the majority always the truth? In ‘The Lottery’, the moment that Tessie had been “marked” as different, the villagers that she had lived with for most of her life attacked her. There must be someone who didn’t want to commit destruction of Tessie. Because they are the minority in that condition, if they stand out, they are very likely to be rejected by society.
Along with other villagers’ encouragement, like Old Man Warner urges them by saying “Come on, come on, everyone.” No one wants to stay out of crime and violence. Jackson suggested to us that we should pay attention to those traditions are continuing only because everyone fears standing up to against the majority. She also suggested us not to fear by non-conformity, because it could push people to do things that are immoral. It is important because when it becomes a unified perception of society it could become another ‘The Lottery’. In real life, Nazi Germany had used conformity to eliminate the Jews because it is for the “goods” of the majority.
Those two points had led to my last idea, are we inherently violent as a part of human nature? We were evolved from animals, this means we must have some violent written in genes. Yet, I think this is something that can be controlled by education and establishing correct values at childhood. But in ‘The Lottery’ it has been completely opposite. Children were taught it’s okay to stone someone to death for the majority’s benefits. Children were looking forward to “the lottery” although they didn’t even know why adults do that, “Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones, and the other boys soon followed his example, selecting the smoothest and roundest stones”. They chose “the smoothest and roundest stones” so it can take longer but more surfers to the scapegoat, Tessie. Even Davy, Tessie’s little boy had been given a few pebbles to kill his mother. These kids didn’t receive the right values in their childhood. That means they might use violence constantly to solve problems in their lives, as long as it has the benefit to them.
Jackson wanted to express that human’s violent nature can be refrain if we educate people, especially children, and have correct values in society. It is important to know because it is happening nowadays. In 2009 Taliban trained children as their bombers and soldiers. They used the name of religion to convince those children and trained those kids 16 hours a day for both physical and ideological. Those kids had been brainwashed and do not have correct values. They uphold violence. I felt this action is highly consistent with the lottery or even above that, cause those kids were even willing to sacrifice themselves. Jackson had issued a statement about her purpose in writing ‘The Lottery’, “I suppose, I hoped, by setting a particularly brutal ancient rite in the present and in my own village to shock the story’s readers with a graphic dramatization of the pointless violence and general inhumanity in their own lives.” From human’s self-preservation, conformity and inherently violent genes’ point of view to look at the society we are living now, it’s not far away from ‘The Lottery’. Just about one month ago Brunei introduced death by stoning, which is such an “ancient rite”, as punishment for gay sex. I think it is time to have some changes in our world and society. We need to put more efforts to extend and educate our society about the correct values. We can also use the power of public opinions to influence those countries to make a change in their laws.
In conclusion, ‘The Lottery’ had a deep and interesting discussion on three different aspects of human nature. Human is self-preservation, we are willing to sacrifice others for other own benefits, without it I can’t even sit here writing this easy today. However, we need to control it sometimes. It is also human nature to conform, but if you disagree with it stand out and express your idea. Don’t be fearful to be the minority, because the majority is not always right. We have inherently violent, with the right education, it can be controlled. Violence is always not the best way to solve problems. It is important to think about because it has relevance to our society if we don’t take any action we are not far away from ‘The Lottery’.
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