An Analysis Of The Lottery By Shirley Jackson

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“The Lottery” - For Analysis

1. There are multiple examples to suggest that “The Lottery” is a ritualistic ceremony. In several instances “The Lottery” is referred to as a ritual: “..so much of the ritual had been forgotten..” and “…because so much of the ritual had been forgotten…”. In addition, the ceremony happens annually on June 27th, a t0:00 a.m., suggesting a ceremonial quality. This happens with such regularity that the citizens “…only half listened to the directions…”. This ceremony had been going on longer than before the oldest man in town, Old Man Warner, was born. Old Man Warner had, in fact, celebrated the lottery for 77 years! Many holidays today are celebrated without anyone really knowing what they were
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Mr Summers, “Let’s finish quickly” and Mrs Dunbar, “Come on. Hurry up”. It must not be pleasant to murder part for the community, but they do it with such ceremony that the actual event catches one off guard.

3. The Lottery has a feeling of religious orthodoxy in that it is wrapped up in tradition. In many religious traditions a ritual killing of a scapegoat was a way to transfer the burden of sin, or evil, from one being to another. In ancient Jewish tradition, the ritual sacrifice transferred your sin to a lamb, making you clean and worthy again of divine attention. Although Shirley Jackson does not make it clear the need for a scapegoat in her story, the village must provide an annual sacrifice. She makes it clear at several points that the reason for the “lottery” has been forgotten, “although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box…”.

Shirley Jackson is likely trying to draw a comparison to many religious rituals, that might take place without remembering the original significance. In “The Lottery, some villages no longer feel the need to celebrate a “lottery”, “Some places have already quit lotteries”. Which is seen as “pure folly”. Perhaps they have outgrown the “spiritual” need to offer sacrifice to induce blessings or forgiveness? One way that I disagree with
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