Essay on Feminism in Shirley Jackson’s “the Lottery”

2524 Words 11 Pages
Steven Heald
Mrs. Mills
2.18.13 Feminism in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” Modern criticism of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery has focused almost exclusively on the issues of feminism and gender roles yet some recent reviews tend to classify the writing as feminist literature. They claim the story highlights the negative aspects of patriarchal societies through the telling of the lottery ritual. However many overlook the roles that the women play throughout this story. The purpose of this paper is to examine how Shirley Jackson uses feminism throughout her story and also to show the feminist attitude the women have towards the male-dominated society. Shirley Jackson’s story is trying to establish the facts around
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The absence of dominant female characters shows that in the story women are commonly seen as inferior to the males in social groups, such as in the gathering before the stoning. There are many different literary devices that are used to make this point such as the developments in the plot and the powerful theme. These devices make it known to the reader how the roles of women are portrayed in the story. Also the use of stereotypes and the aggressiveness of the men better show how the women’s lives are portrayed, how the conflicts between the two are resolved and how the traditional ideas regarding these relationships are challenged. One prominent theme in “The Lottery” is the extreme power of a mob mentality. In short, the people feel that it is okay to stone people because everybody else is doing it. The entire society in the story is based around these yearly events. In the story, the people are cruel murderers once a year and not only do they not feel guilt about it, they find it necessary. They allow themselves to stone their friends and neighbors based on blind faith, tradition, and a ridiculous rationalization. Another incredibly important theme is that of tradition. Jackson's views on tradition are clearly negative through this short story. The villagers allow an outdated tradition to run their lives and control whether they live or die.

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