Tools Of Characterization And The Main Themes In The Lottery By Shirley Jackson
“The Lottery” is a short story in which Shirley Jackson, the author, presents an often unheard view of tradition. Jackson reveals the many evils committed by mankind. This story takes place in a small village setting, where the people partake in traditional cultures and practices. In this short story, the town holds a yearly tradition where an individual in the town is chosen at random to be stoned by his or hers friends and family members. The atmosphere created by Jackson in presentation shows the absolute norm of the practice of the lottery within the town is quite convincing that, this is a normal thing for the town members to do.
The ultimate fate of all the practices presented is marked by “death”, perceived as the deliverer for many evils people commit against each other. Though this story is not dominated by many actions, characterization is well defined by the few actions the characters are involved. One of the most outstanding tools of characterization in this short-story is actions. For example, Mrs. Delacroix is brought out in the story as being a highly driven and impatient lady. An example that justifies that is, “so large she had to pick it up with both hands…”. In addition, the events in this short story seems as if Jackson is revealing the hypocrisy and evilness of human kind. As sated in the story, “They greeted one another and exchanged bits of gossip… manhandling each other without a flinch of pity…”. It should be noted closely that, this story portrays utmost evil committed in just ordinary manner, which implies a concealed evil of man. This quite evidence in the way such evils presented are happening in just friendly atmosphere, reflecting the masking nature of humans.
Despite the story not being treacherous until near its end, Jackson seems to be foreshadowing this notion of deadliness as brought out through Mr. Summers, who oversees the lottery, and his colleague Mr. Graves. The picture brought out of Mr. Summers makes him seem as a very honored man as he coordinates various social activities. The modest nature of Mr. Summers, yet a very dangerous one is reported by Shirley that, “Mr. Summers was very good at all this… with one hand resting carelessly on the black box, he seemed very proper and important as he talked interminably to Mr. Graves and the Martins”. Much activities may seem normal with concern to the village norms, but they imitate high levels of human rights violation. The main characters portray the mood of the actual events in this short story. For instance, “Summers” symbolizes the vital theme of the story, and ultimate outcome of the entire events. Further, the name of Mr. Summer’s colleague, Mr. Graves, who happens to be his assistant, foreshadows unfairness of ordinary people. Imagery is clearly brought out by having the author give the names of the main characters which illustrates the entire theme.
Together with hypocrisy, “Lottery” presents the weakness of human nature. Considering that this act of lottery had been the “usual” in this village for many years, no one seems to question its negative impacts for the humans well-being. As reflected in Jackson, “There’s always been a lottery and no one has been nervous about it… everyone goes on with it…” reveals how self-righteous the people in the village were. According to Hyman, no one had expressed fear or disgust despite it robbing the humans of their natural rights for survival. The kind of malice presented in this story goes beyond human violence considering that it is all done calmly and in unity. Ironically, Mrs. Hutchinson. As Marshal suggested, the use of protagonist in this short story is a real reflection of how people are deeply drawn in hypocrisy and wickedness. Before drawing from her fellow women to face her fate she seems happy, Mrs. Hutchison is brought out to be happy to witness the way her friends and family are mistreated. This shows the way oppressive norms in society and culture have hopes of liberalization from oppressive cultures. The death of Mrs. Hutchison marks the continuity of evilness that human nature possesses, despite continuously being friendly with one another.
Generally, this story reflects the way humans mistreat one another based off cultural beliefs and practices. Since the act of lottery as presented in this story undermines the human nature, people in society tend to condone such evil acts with less regard on their negative wrongdoings. As the story ends, the “light of hope” for liberalization, Mrs. Hutchison, dies which shows the depth of human nature, evil, and wickedness. Typically, this story reflects the societal practices committed by mankind and human beings to one another, as if they are ordinary events.
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