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Literary Devices in The Lottery Essay


The Lottery

The story The Lottery by Shirley Jackson is a good story because of the use of literary elements that lead up to the understanding and plot of the story. The Lottery is about a town that has a lottery every, but the twist to the story is that the winner, who receives a black dot on a piece of paper from the black box, gets stoned to death as their reward. Shirley Jackson uses irony and motifs in the story to help explain a tradition that is old enough that the rituals involved have been partially forgotten.

One literary element present in "The Lottery is irony. The author uses irony when she makes the conductor of the lotterys name be Mr. Summers. The lottery was conducted as were the square dances, the teenage clubs, the Halloween program by Mr. Summers (pg 214). Mr. Summers is in charge of organizing all fun and lively things while he is also involved in the event that brings death to the community every year. Another use of irony of names in the story is through the name Tessie, which means the harvester or reaper. One of the sayings in the town is Lottery in June, corn heavy soon. (pg 218), its ironic that her name has to do with crops, which also correspond with Old Man Warners saying, and that she ends up being the one killed at the end because she picked the winning lottery ticket.

Motifs are the other literary term that Shirley Jackson uses well in the story. A motif is an element that occurs repeatedly throughout a work, in the story The Lottery it is tradition. Tradition is strong in the town but they do the lottery more out of habit rather because they lost the true meaning of the lottery many years ago The original paraphernalia for the lottery had been lost long ago (pg 215). Another example of tradition is through the black box itself Mr. Summers spoke frequently to the villagers about making a new box, but no one like to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box. (pg 215). The people like having something that reoccurs without question, they are used to it and are not willing to change things right away. Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box they still remembered to use stones. (pg 220). The children in the story are the ones to gather the stones that would be used to stone the lottery winner, and the adults or people dont think anything is wrong with making the children participate in this because it is normal to them. Nobody thinks anything is wrong with stoning people because it was engraved in their heads that this was how they did things and they didnt question it.

Shirley Jacksons uses of literary elements throughout the story were used very well. They helped to explain the story in greater depth when reading, by helping the reader to get the understanding of what and why the people of the town performed the lottery. Through Jacksons choice of title in the story it also provides the reader with the irony of what the reader may think means winning when in this case it means death.

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