Archetypes In The Lottery, By Shirley Jackson

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“The Lottery”, is a short story written by Shirley Jackson. The setting is a rural village in which it’s people frantically prepare for a yearly ritual. The ritual, referred to as “the lottery”, creates an atmosphere of apprehension and anticipation. While the children were summoned to retrieve stones, Mr. Summers carried the black box of names to the front of the crowd. When all of the families are finally together, the ceremony begins. All but one man remains that remembers the true reason for the tradition and cautions the unmindful residents. Still the ritual continues with the drawing of names from the box. The Hutchinson family is chosen for the second round of the lottery. With hesitation, each member of the family draws a slip
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The village is driven by ancient cultures who believed that the vegetation and the lives of humans have connecting life cycles. Essentially, the death of a human can take the place of dying crops. The term of this process is the “scapegoat” archetype. A scapegoat is when people transfer their sins to persons or animals that are then sacrificed for their sins. Other archetypes included are seasonal and life-death cycle archetypes. The names of the ritual leaders represent the seasonal archetypes associated with the crops. Mr.Summers embodies the joyful reactions of those who benefit from the summer’s production of crops. Mr.Graves darkens the atmosphere and symbolizes the death associated with winter. The two men create a “balance by juxtaposing… Life brings death, and death recycles life.” The violence in the story is overlooked by all in the community except Old Man Warner. When the people no longer remember the meaning of the tradition, they do remember the violent act of throwing stones. Civilized traditions are disregarded because of the tendency of humans to revert to violence. The people of the mob also provide evidence that people ignore their individual feelings in order to fit in with the …show more content…
“The Lottery” was published in a magazine that later lost a generous amount of subscriptions and produced a public unfavorable view on Shirley Jackson. Considering the story was published in 1949, the American population was “proud of the role they had played in defeating the Nazis in World War II.” The inhumane acts of their enemy in the war resulted in the public refusing to have any involvement in such heinous crimes against people. The people of the ‘40’s were so focused on the shocking horror that they neglected to acknowledge the true intent of the story. Jackson’s surprise ending forced society to think of the traditions they took part in. The clues left in the names, time of year, and simple actions allow the reader the ability to uncover the mystery prior to the ending. The names Summers, Graves, and Delacroix respectively represent agrarian tradition, death, and sacrifice. Even the time of year the ritual takes (June), is a common time for agricultural festivals. The nonchalant act of the children gathering stones gave way to the grim conclusion. The altruism of society is reflected through Mrs.Hutchinson when she is stoned. Tessie Hutchinson appeared to have no complaint concerning the traditions fairness until she was forced to face her death. People are only concerned about whether a situation is honorable when they are the ones facing it, rather than

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