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Published: 29-09-2019

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The Lottery by Shirley Jackson summary

The events of “The Lottery” border on the absurd. Nonetheless, the story cries out for interpretation on many levels. Shirley Jackson has skillfully used the components of numerous ancient rituals to generate a tale that touches on the character of ritual itself and the devastating effects of mob psychology.

At the heart of the story is a single of the oldest ideas of humankind: the notion of the scapegoat. Ancient civilizations usually carried out a ceremony in which the evils of an whole society were symbolically transferred to 1 member of the group, either human or animal, and that member was killed or banished. This death or banishment recommended that the evils of the past had been expurgated, permitting for a far better future for the group. The Jewish men and women in Old Testament times conducted the ritual by designating a goat as the recipient of all sins and evil, then turning the goat out into the desert hence, in Western literature, the term “scapegoat” has been widely adopted to designate this sacrificial victim.

Tessie Hutchinson is the scapegoat in her town in the year in which “The Lottery” takes spot the implication in the story is that the lottery is an annual event. In this town, the scapegoat is utilised to banish the evils of the society so that the crops will flourish. Thus, two ancient rituals are combined: the notion of banishing evils by means of a sacrificial victim, and the notion of appeasing greater powers in some way to guarantee fertility for the land. Fertility rituals, also, usually involved some type of sacrifice.

The folks of the town are caught up in the ritual to such an extent that they have provided up any sense of logic. Mob psychology rules their actions. Even though they seem to be sane, sensible folks, when the time of the lottery comes, they abandon their rational nature and revert to the instincts of the herd. This psychological phenomenon is characteristic of humans all through history. Although Jackson portrays it in its intense type in this story, the idea that men and girls in groups are prepared to forgo personal duty and act with fantastic cruelty toward other people is evidenced in actions such as lynch mobs, racial confrontations, and similar incidents. The willingness of men and women to act irrationally as members of the herd displays aspects that, whilst unpleasant, are nonetheless integral parts of their nature that they must recognize if they are to hold them in verify.
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