An Analysis Of The Lottery English Literature Essay


Jackson intertwines seasonal and life-death cycle archetypes, which go hand in hand with vegetation rituals. (Griffin) According to Carl Jung, archetypes can be considered "complexes of experience that come upon us like fate." (Griffin) The lottery takes place every year when the nature cycle is at its peak in midsummer, a time usually associated with cheerfulness. Mr. Summers, festive man who conducts the lottery ceremony, sets the tone of the event with both his name and his manners. (Griffin) But standing behind him, Mr. Graves quietly helps, his name hinting at a dark undertone. (Griffin) The picnic like atmosphere betrays the seriousness of the lottery. Jackson creates balance by putting together Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves to share responsibilities of the lottery: Life brings death, and death recycles life. (Griffin)

Old Man Warner, the only one who seems to recall the significance of the occasion. Why do the people continue the tradition when they no longer find meaning in the lottery? (Griffin) Because there has "always been a lottery" (Jackson 77), the people feel obligated to continue this horrifying tradition. (Griffin) They focus on its gruesome meaning rather than the symbolic meaning; they still remembered to use stones, even after they have forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box." (Lottery, 247)

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Although civilized people may no longer hold lotteries, Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" illustrates that society's tendency toward violence and its tendency to hold onto tradition, regardless of its meaning to them, shows our need for both ritual and belonging to something no matter how atrocious the act may be. (Griffin)


Griffin, Amy A. "Jackson's The Lottery." Explicator 58.1 (1999): 44. MasterFILEPremier. EBSCO. Web. 10 Nov. 2010.

Hardy, Thomas. Tess of the D'Urbervilles. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1960.

Jackson, Shirley. "The Lottery." Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing Eleventh Edition. Eds. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. New York: Longman, 247-252. Print

Yarmove, Jay A. "Jackson's The Lottery." Explicator 52.4 (1994): 242. MasterFILEPremier. EBSCO. Web. 9 Nov. 2010.