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The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

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"The Lottery" is a story by Shirley Jackson that aroused much criticism and controversy in 1948, following its first publication. The author craftily used comedy and irony to show the weakness, hypocrisy and underlying evil of the human kind. This essay aims to explore the main message of the story by using the feminist lens.

The story takes place in a village, where a yearly lottery is in progress. In terms of this event a woman is randomly selected and violently stoned to death by friends and family.

Women in this story are shown voiceless in respect to public actions and decisions. Tessie Hutchinson, the main character of the story “won the lottery” and was killed because of the cruel and violent tradition. Tessie is a symbol of all women who are tyrannized by society because of their gender (Oehlschlaeger 259). The story`s male characters seem to be driven by the tradition rather than by common sense. They never question the lottery or its purpose. The women, on the other hand, mention that other communities have already stepped away from this uncivilized tradition. However, nobody seems to care about what women think. Mothers, wives and daughters in this village have are shown to have no rights at all which should help the reader understand that women should not simply accept the society`s norms, but to challenge them.

The fact that the women`s opinion is being completely ignored in the story may be seen through numerous examples. When Tessie gets the black circled ticket and complains about this, her husband says: “Shut up, Tessie” (226). Through this vivid example the author wanted to show how women were treated and to call upon for granting them the ability to express their opinion without being trampled by men (Oehlschlaeger 260).

“The Lottery” is much more than just a terrifying story about a group of people performing a violent and unfair ritual. It is rather a feminist call to action, demanding for more gender balance within society.

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