The Lottery, By Shirley Jackson

1510 WordsApr 13, 20167 Pages
Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” illustrates several aspects of the darker side of human nature. The townspeople in Jackson’s “The Lottery” unquestioningly adhere to a tradition which seems to have lost its relevance in their lives. The ritual that is the lottery shows how easily and willingly people will give up their free will and suspend their consciences to conform to tradition and people in authority. The same mindless complacency and obedience shown by the villagers in Jackson’s story are seen in human behavior throughout history and are still visible in current events seen today. Religion and higher authority are able to convince people to commit horrendous crimes against other human beings without hesitation or guilt. In religion, rituals can be a substitute for taking responsibility for one’s actions or thinking for oneself. The behavior shown by the villagers can also be compared to human beings cruel enjoyment of the suffering of other human beings. This side of human nature dates back to the scapegoat method used during the Biblical times (Whittier 351). “The Lottery” is more of a hypocritical tradition than a ritual at the point we witness in the story, but out of respect and fear for tradition, the townsfolk are more than willing to commit an act of mass violence as a scapegoat method, simply for the sake of a tradition. There are several themes that take place in “The Lottery”, but the most valuable would be the importance of rituals and traditions. Shirley

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