A Feminist Perspective of The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson Essay

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Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" is an allegorical depiction of society's flaws and cruel principles and the effects they have on its citizens and more specifically, its women.

The literal level of "The Lottery" illustrates a town's chilling tradition of a random selection of death by stoning of a certain person. Figuratively, however, one aspect of Jackson's short story bravely reveals the reality of society's control over women by placing on them expectations and limitations.

"The Lottery" begins with a description of a bright and serene setting. The morning the event took place "was clear and sunny, with a fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green" (Jackson
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The use of the word, "men folk" alone, portrays Jackson's emphasis on the separation between men and women and the simple fact that the women "wearing faded dresses, and sweaters, came shortly after their men folk" places a domination over women by men. As observed by critic Peter Kosenko, "their dresses indicate that they do in fact work, but because they work in the home and not within a larger economy in which work is regulated by finance (money), they are treated by men and treat themselves inferior" (29).

Even in maternity, society's women are portrayed inferior to men. While women naturally take on the role of child-bearing, men are superior in the household as depicted in "The Lottery." "As people gather at the outset of the story, the women stand `by their husbands,' and Jackson sharply distinguishes female form male authority: when Mrs. Martin calls her son Bobby, he `ducked under his mother's grasping hand and ran, laughing, back to the pile of stones,' but when `his father spoke up sharply', Bobby `came quickly and took his place between his father and his oldest brother'" (Oehlschlaeger 260).

The women of the village were not allowed to go up to the box and select a slip of paper themselves and if their husbands were injured or deceased it was necessary to send their oldest son to choose it. Such an incident occurred in "The Lottery" with a family called the Dunbars. Clyde
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