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The Lottery by Shirley Jackson summary


The occasions of “The Lottery game” border on the unreasonable. However, the story cries out for analysis on several levels. Shirley Jackson has actually skillfully utilized the components of a number of ancient rituals to develop a tale that discuss the character of routine itself and the devastating impacts of mob psychology.

At the heart of the story is one of the oldest principles of humankind: the concept of the scapegoat. Ancient civilizations often carried out an event in which the evils of a whole society were symbolically moved to one member of the group, either human or animal, which member was killed or eliminated. This death or banishment suggested that the evils of the past had actually been expurgated, enabling a much better future for the group. The Jewish individuals in Old Testimony times conducted the routine by designating a goat as the recipient of all sins and wicked, then turning the goat out into the desert; thus, in Western literature, the term “scapegoat” has been widely embraced to designate this sacrificial victim.

Tessie Hutchinson is the scapegoat in her town in the year in which “The Lottery” occurs; the ramification in the story is that the lottery is an annual event. In this town, the scapegoat is used to eradicate the evils of the society so that the crops will thrive. Hence, 2 ancient rituals are combined: the idea of banishing evils by means of a sacrificial victim, and the idea of calming higher powers in some way to ensure fertility for the land. Fertility rituals, too, typically involved some kind of sacrifice.

The people of the town are captured up in the ritual to such an extent that they have quit any sense of reasoning. Mob psychology guidelines their actions. Though they appear to be sane, practical individuals, when the time of the lottery comes, they desert their reasonable nature and revert to the instincts of the herd. This psychological phenomenon is particular of humans throughout history. Although Jackson represents it in its extreme type in this story, the idea that males and females in groups want to forgo personal duty and show excellent ruthlessness toward others is evidenced in actions such as lynch mobs, racial conflicts, and similar events. The willingness of people to act crazily as members of the herd displays elements that, while undesirable, are still integral parts of their nature that they must recognize if they are to keep them in check.

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