| Symbolism and Imagery in the Lottery Essay
Pieces of literature are perfected by the literary and literal messages they invoke, and Shirley Jacksons The Lottery achieves this through a fascinating mix of symbolism and imagery. The myriad symbols and images are incorporated into the short story to a compelling effect that ensures the reader is glued to the story. In addition, the story offers a superficial meaning and a meaning underneath whose understanding can only be uncovered depending on the manner in which one perceives and interprets the symbols and images used. Symbolism runs all through the short story, beginning from the heading- The Lottery- through to the conclusive act of stoning.
Whatever message Jackson wanted to carry for the readership cum audience is deeply concealed within the confines of the society and observes the family orientation as an equally important aspect in the society. The manner in which the short story is constructed espouses a call that denounces traditional rituals and probably explores the consciousness of the society still rooted and detained by the rituals. In addition, the short story explores the dilemma as the characters contemplate on doing away with the ritual as other villages have done. Though this is the superficial message, an exploration into the symbolism and imagery will provide the proper avenue for the understanding of the short story and more so the message Shirley Jackson wanted to pass across.
The Heading as the First Point of Discussion
To begin with, the heading provides the first point of discussion. A lottery is defined by the Oxford advanced learners dictionary defines as an undertaking whose eventual outcome is dependent on fate. This definition goes in line with the story but deviates from the commonly shared notion of a lottery as a form of gambling in which winners are selected from drawn lots and from amongst those who had paid to participate (Duxbury, pg 35). This symbolically contradicts the readers expectation that the participation of the lottery is voluntary and on reading one realizes it is involuntarily and in fact mandatory.
The manner and timing in which it is conducted thus deviates from the understanding of an ideal lottery and is perhaps a message for the readership to brace for a meaning deeper than the setting of an ideal lottery. Consequently, the authors, Shirley Jackson, tells the story in the confines of a lottery, illustrating its practices and how it is carried out and eventually the final reward, which is an amazing turn of events. Suspicion is drawn first through the skipping of major practices which characterized the original practice and the fact that the lottery sends shivers amongst the villagers is reason enough for the questioning of its authenticity.
The preparations for The Lottery
Another instance of symbolism and imagery is the manner the village prepares for the lottery. The preparations seem to lack the enthusiasm and excitements expected of a lottery save for the collection of the stones by the boys and girls. The black box is not even considered important in the timeframe that does not include the imminent orchestration of the ritual (Mosby, pg 34-39). Such preparations point to a ritual which less people are even concerned about. It could also an indicator of dread and uncertainty over the whole issue that pertain the lottery. However, the joy in the collection of the stones and the manner in which they are guarded adds another angle, which probably induces an aspect of nobility into the whole lottery undertaking. The eventual use of the stones is thus projected as vital and important and the rush to have the stones points as the eagerness of the persons involved to participate in the stoning act. In addition, the mood set forth before the actual ritual is one of total disinterest with the villagers taking their time.
However, the readership must wonder at the essence outlined in having all the villagers in tow even those who are sick. How important is such a lottery given that in lotteries participation is voluntary and in most cases one has to pay to be a competitor for the ultimate prize! (Nyren, pg 21-23) Reading from such preparations, the strategy of the author would most probably have been an early warning for the readership to brace for a different kind of a lottery.
Points of Contention
The setting of short story remains anonymous all through. This points at a deliberate effort by the author not to restrict the short story to a certain geographical area or known location set up. In addition, this points at universality- that is- the concepts explored by the short story run across the whole society all over the globe. In so doing, the author invokes the understanding and perception of a neutral orientation and probably elicits condemnation of a practice carried world over irrespective of the societal orientation and social parameters.
Thus, symbolic message is meant to invoke similar associations in every day lives of the readership and make the readership associate with the villagers and the eventual villain, Mrs. Hutchinson (Gelfant & Graver, 2000). The fact that Jackson goes into deep extents and extrapolates the societal segmentation into family units and then into parents and children can be perceived at an attempt to ensure that the short story remains in touch with the day to day lifestyles of the villagers and thus attaching neutrality to it.
However, critics like Burton sense symbolic meaning into the division of the villagers into households. Burton asserts that the division later highlights the patriarchal patronage of the village and is probably a big pointer to opportunities and events all over in the world. Consequently, the sub division relates to a masculine patronage in all aspects of the society and asserts the authority of men over the proceedings of most of the events happening world over (Hague, pg 13). In addition, the fact that the man is supposed to go and take the choice surely outlines the insistence of patriarchy. Burton goes ahead to point out that probably the author explored the inevitability of capitalism in the society and through the use of the divisions espoused the inevitability of social stratification.
In addition, Jackson extrapolated stratification as a construct of the human mind and successfully questions this perception with the use of Mrs. Watson who represents her husband who broke his leg. However, this attempt is overshadowed by the fact that she has to keep her husband posted and thus has to send the first born son to tell them that it is the turn of the Hutchinson family and specifically Mrs. Hutchison. Such a short lived appearance of the feminine gender in the limelight is followed by the feelings of the crowd when it has to be one of the Hutchisons. The crowd breathes a sigh of relief when they realize it is not Nancy the girl though the sympathy shown is the hope that Nancy wont get the dreaded paper. Even then, the patronage elicits capitalist maxims in the face of how the activities are carried out within the society.
Another point of contention is that the affluent persons are the custodians of this abhorred ritual. Mr. Summers who represents the capitalist business world and epitomizes prosperity and the postmaster are the central figures behind the ritual. In addition, Mr. Summers relies on the help of Mr. Graves and they succeed in replacing the wooden chips with paper! One face shows the transition of the society from traditional set ups to the appreciation of modern changes. On the other hand, from a business perspective it insinuates the emergence of money as a medium of exchange replacing barter trade. This is a general view that seeks to assert the emergence of capitalism and thus the societal gaps asserted by the divide established due to the lack of cohesion as established by the joyous stoning the villagers engage in.
The Black Box as the Epitome of Symbolism
Jackson presents it as paraphernalia that nobody wants to associate with. The fact that it is colored black and the seeming lack of enthusiasm from the villagers to associate with it is a warning to the readership that it is an avenue to ill-feted occasions dreaded by all. Thus, it acts not just as a connector to tradition but also as a to the strong beliefs in the black box. The use of this relic also alludes to the use of violence and unmerciful traditions in the religion (Duxbury, pg 35). The fear of the box, whose color is said to be jaded, is manifest in the manner in which people evade the subject of its replacing whenever the issue crops up. Jackson notes “No one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box”.
This is a strong linkage to the tradition and the box, even some go as far as noting that some parts were made of shards of previous boxes. Though the box has been obscured with passing time, no one seems keen to dispose off the box and subsequently the lottery tradition. The box is a symbol of a long held ritual regurgitated- of course with changes- through generations. The fact that the generations have been able to keep the box illustrates the keenness of the village to be part of the ritual. Supposing the village represented the society in whole, the box would symbolize a long held belief and most probably this would be religion as each religion has its practices which stick to fixed procedures and processes and ones that people who observe them dare not change or even alter them in the least.
In continuing with the religious argument, the three legged stool would be a symbol of the trinity commonly referred in the Christian world. In the understanding that all other religions are not exempted from the universal picture Jackson intended to create, it is not only Christianity that is intended but also the major religions and traditional myths. Though majorly the Christian Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit) comes to the fore, it is not clear whether it is what Jackson intended (Gelfant & Graver, pg 18). The three legged stool can thus be interpreted as the brainwashing of the society such that it can mete collective violence against one of their own. The stool supports the black box and thus can be inferred as the powers that carry the society to violence and evil. The three legged stool is also synonymous with ancient Greek myths and the three North fates which are all religious oriented gesticulations. The symbolic message for the use of the stool has thus drawn critics to the religious orientation of the society.
The origin of the tradition seems a mystery to all even to Old Man Warner. The perception by many critics is that this was a deliberate effort on the part of Jackson to question the nature of humanity in adhering to practices which even run out of their cognizance (Hague, pg 13). There villagers seem to revel in the dreaded ritual and express their intent on holding onto one of the oldest religious practices in the world. Thus, the readership curiosity ought to be drawn into the manner in which the villagers revel in the tradition without knowing its origins. The fact that they old on to the practice point to the fact that it could have a religious bearing in it.
This is symbolic of human nature to cling to the varied avenues in search of redemption and prosperity. In addition, probably Jackson questions the embrace of worlds most followed religions on the basis of the manner in which they originated and drew so many followers to them. the question on why Religion has been able to draw such a huge following all over the world as well as other major religions and the fact that they allow space for ungodly practices like judging by stoning to death and have protracted the rise of capitalism which lifts some people at the expense of the others. It is on this knowledge that Jackson wanted the society to gauge itself especially on the conception that literature acts as a societal mirror.
In the advent of such an adventurous move, questions are raised on the importance of Old Man Warner. His vast days of existence in the world do not inform of the origin of the ritual yet he serves a warning to those intending to do away with the practice. When some people project on the necessity of the ritual, he reckons that the villages that have abandoned the lottery practice will come to no good. In addition, he is very vocal in encouraging the stoning act. He says come all, take a stone!. Jackson intended this to capture the generational transmission of the ritual and the fact that the children are as eager as the old to pursue the tradition asserts that the tradition is less likely to cede anytime soon. In addition, it points to the enthusiasm with which the village and the society at large take the ritual. Importantly though, he drops the strongest hint that it must have been linked to a ritual, one that involved human sacrifice for the purposes of good harvest.
The narrator observes that the villagers still remember to gather and use the stones. Such a yearly occasion is surely dependent on the eventual use of stones. The allusion of the use of stones draws from a form of judgment enshrined in all religious practices. Firs and foremost, Christians in the old and New Testament used stones as a way of condemning the social outcasts or those caught engaging in acts considered wayward by the society (). On the other hand, the Muslim religion still endorses punishment by way of stoning the persons caught in sins, mostly adultery and fornication. Whether Jackson was challenging this ideal is a point of contention highlighted by the fact that mostly the feminine gender was the ones who were subjected to these acts religiously whilst the male folk were never afflicted. The fact that Old Man Warner has successively participated in the lottery and the choice of a woman points to critics assertion that Jackson was challenging the act of stoning. Thus, the meaning of the story could not be far from the society, but rather the assertion that harmony in the society is disrupted by harsh judgments which co-exist with good within the society.
The symbol of the Village and Its Villagers
This brings us to the choice of the culprit. Mr. Hutchinson is equally involved in the lottery just like all other persons but he is not lucky. Apparently it is from his household and the most vocal person, Mrs. Hutchison is the one. The manner in which he seems to treat the husband and all villagers should be a fore warning to the audience that she is the likeliest victim of the lottery. The manner of her entrance into the village square, which raises a stir despite her coming late, is the major point of concern. Even Mr. Summers notices her absence and notices her late entrance. In addition, the domineering manner in which she treats her husband plus argues out the fact that he was not given a fair chance for the selection further mystifies the character she is (Nyren, pg 21). Eventually we see all the members of the village stone her with no regrets. Her character and sudden death symbolizes the lack of chance for women to question the authority of men. Her sudden death expounded by the fact that she was last as she was washing her dishes could also be a symbol for the unpredictability and suddenness of death. The interpretation however is dependent on which angle a reader decides to pursue because even religiously it would bear the same meaning.
Through vivid description, the men are associated with ploughing, oxen and garden work. Children are associated with school whereas the women folk are associated with kitchen duties. The manner of entrance is symbolically described to befit a normal village setting. Though this could seem normal, on further inquisition it invokes the association with the daily lifestyles within the society and thus elicits the premonition that the short story covers the real lives in whatever context and offers connection to the diverse contexts which could be applicable. The author talks of a blooming, cheerful village which does not even look disturbed or excited about the whole lottery issue!
This description sets the mood for the reading only for the tragic turn of evnts. All through, Jackson relies on symbols to ensure that the readership remains glued to the whole text! Suspense also ensures the readership do not deviate from the book. The symbol of the village and its villagers and the manner in which they co-exist draws the relationships humanity together (Duxbury, pg 35). The stoning of Mrs. Hutchinson is also symbolic in that she always seems as the person who has remained aloof unlike all other persons. The fact that she makes herself the vilified person means that she remains vulnerable and thus she is viewed as the outcast in the whole construction.
Type of assignmentWriter levelTitle of your paperPages
Essay Term paper Coursework Research paper Research proposal Grant Proposal Case Study Case Brief Discussion Board Post Reaction paper Response paper Literary analysis Article Review Article Critique Movie Review Movie Critique Book Report Book Review Synopsis Poem Letter Motivation letter Memo Scholarship essay Article writing Blog Article Annotated Bibliography Literature Review Outline Online Test Questions-Answers Multiple Choice Questions Interview Questionnaire Speech Dissertation Dissertation chapter – Abstract Dissertation chapter – Introduction Dissertation chapter – Hypothesis Dissertation chapter – Literature review Dissertation chapter – Methodology Dissertation chapter – Results Dissertation chapter – Discussion Dissertation chapter – Conclusion Thesis Thesis Proposal Thesis/dissertation chapter Capstone Project IB Extended Essay Lab Report Business Report Business plan Marketing Plan White paper Formatting Editing Proofreading Rewriting Revision Powerpoint Presentation Powerpoint Presentation Poster PDF Poster Excel Exercises High School College University Master’s PHD 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214 215 216 217 218 219 220 221 222 223 224 225 226 227 228 229 230 231 232 233 234 235 236 237 238 239 240 241 242 243 244 245 246 247 248 249 250 251 252 253 254 255 256 257 258 259 260 261 262 263 264 265 266 267 268 269 270 271 272 273 274 275 276 277 278 279 280 281 282 283 284 285 286 287 288 289 290 291 292 293 294 295 296 297 298 299 300 301 302 303 304 305 306 307 308 309 310 311 312 313 314 315 316 317 318 319 320 321 322 323 324 325 326 327 328 329 330 331 332 333 334 335 336 337 338 339 340 341 342 343 344 345 346 347 348 349 350 351 352 353 354 355 356 357 358 359 360 361 362 363 364 365 366 367 368 369 370 371 372 373 374 375 376 377 378 379 380 381 382 383 384 385 386 387 388 389 390 391 392 393 394 395 396 397 398 399 400 401 402 403 404 405 406 407 408 409 410 411 412 413 414 415 416 417 418 419 420 421 422 423 424 425 426 427 428 429 430 431 432 433 434 435 436 437 438 439 440 441 442 443 444 445 446 447 448 449 450 451 452 453 454 455 456 457 458 459 460 461 462 463 464 465 466 467 468 469 470 471 472 473 474 475 476 477 478 479 480 481 482 483 484 485 486 487 488 489 490 491 492 493 494 495 496 497 498 499 500
Single spaced Double spaced 11 days 9 days 7 days 5 days 4 days 3 days 48 hours 24 hours 12 hours 8 hours 6 hours 3 hours USD EUR GBP AUD
Finally, the entire ritual is symbolic. The manner in which it is conducted and gauging by the forgotten practices shows that the villagers are not keen to the traditions of the ritual. Indeed, some people are keen on having the ritual stopped. The ritual and the cruel manner in which it is executed could be read to have been a deliberate attempt to castigate the practices of the society especially towards the women. Though Old Man Warner points to abundance in harvest, the ritual lacks conviction as a human sacrifice. This plain approach could point to the vanity of human sacrifices or even pose as a rebuke the holding on to worthless cultural or traditional practices.
It also questions the logic behind strict adherence to beliefs of questionable origin. If compared to the community, Jackson probably castigated some real-life elements who dictate the proceedings in the society. This could be translated into the ruling elite who define proceedings. Curiously though, Mr. Hutchison does not contest the decision of the lottery harshly as his wife which could ether imply that he is brainwashed or in other words say good riddance to Mrs. Hutchison (Gelfant & Graver, pg 21). In addition the fact that the entire village seems to enjoy stoning Mrs. Hutchison points to general hatred. The representation of the family however points to the realms of social interaction that have root sin the household one belongs to.
To conclude, the forms of symbolism and imagery bring out an analysis of the society, religion and the economic orientation of the society. Jackson probably wanted to capture all dimensions that define the lifestyles. All religions can be said to have been hit as the act of stoning was and still is a common practice of meting punishment. In Christianity it can be traced to the New Testament when a gathering wanted to stone a woman who had been caught committing adultery. In the Islam religion women caught in the act of fornication are half buried before being stoned to death. Such a cruel death can also be likened to the rapid spread of capitalism which caters for the affluent at the expense of the poor. This is asserted by the role Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves play extrapolating the essence of position in the society. In addition, Jackson could have been looking at the patriarchal orientation of the society and warning of the dire consequences to the women who fail to observe and respect what can be termed as the status quo.
This is perfectly done through Mrs. Hutchison who is focused from the onset of the ritual till she is condemned to the death. Another dimension would involve the condemnation of savage cum primitive practices which have no value addition to the progress of the society. Finally, the manner in which the boys are inducted into violence is probably a preparation for the violent world. Dabundo observes that probably the short story comments the generational breeding of violence and notes that with such transitional overtures, violence is unlikely to end especially if generations are thus inducted into it (Dabundo, pg 102). The appalling institutional recognition of murder has an overall forbearance on the value attached to human life, especially if the ritual is carried out yearly.
Study Acers provides students with tutoring and help them save time, and excel in their courses. Students LOVE us!No matter what kind of essay paper you need, it is simple and secure to hire an essay writer for a price you can afford at StudyAcers. Save more time for yourself. Delivering a high-quality product at a reasonable price is not enough anymore.
That’s why we have developed 5 beneficial guarantees that will make your experience with our service enjoyable, easy, and safe.
You have to be 100% sure of the quality of your product to give a money-back guarantee. This describes us perfectly. Make sure that this guarantee is totally transparent.Read more
Each paper is composed from scratch, according to your instructions. It is then checked by our plagiarism-detection software. There is no gap where plagiarism could squeeze in.Read more
Thanks to our free revisions, there is no way for you to be unsatisfied. We will work on your paper until you are completely happy with the result.Read more
Your email is safe, as we store it according to international data protection rules. Your bank details are secure, as we use only reliable payment systems.Read more
By sending us your money, you buy the service we provide. Check out our terms and conditions if you prefer business talks to be laid out in official language.Read more