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A comparison of shirley jacksons the lottery and the possibility of evil

There are underlying characteristics of humans — selfishness, pride, or violence — that people hide within themselves. Shirley Jackson builds her stories without any evidence that foreshadows the future events so that the endings come as a shock to the reader. The settings intensify the horror of the stories by preparing backgrounds that contradict the events; it is as if there is no warning for what is to come.

These environments are familiar and inviting scenes that the reader would not expect the events of the stories to be set in. The introductions of both stories set up inviting scenes that deceive the reader as well. The shock is not only the result of a false setting, but is also the effect of evil within an inviting, familiar character such as the ones Jackson describes.

How the characters are perceived and how they really act both are aspects of the stories that result in the horrors that affect the reader. This underlying evil affects the reader because he or she learns that these descriptively inviting characters are capable of more than what is introduced.

  1. The fact that Jackson uses everyday means of communication such as letters and meetings to harm others makes the horror of these stories seem as if danger exists in even the simplest parts of life.
  2. What the characters express to their neighbors is not exactly how they feel.
  3. How the characters are perceived and how they really act both are aspects of the stories that result in the horrors that affect the reader.
  4. Despite there being talk in other towns about doing away with the lottery "no one [in this town] liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box," which they use to conduct the drawing.
  5. How the characters are perceived and how they really act both are aspects of the stories that result in the horrors that affect the reader.

To her, it is her duty to inform her neighbors of what she believes to be the truth, she just anonymously expresses her thoughts. What the characters express to their neighbors is not exactly how they feel.

As the lottery begins, however, the people begin to lash out. This idea shows that these people are willing to commit evil actions at the cost of violence. The fact that Jackson uses everyday means of communication such as letters and meetings to harm others makes the horror of these stories seem as if danger exists in even the simplest parts of life.

Possibility of Evil and The Lottery Compare/Contrast Essay

Jackson expressed her own personal beliefs and ideas through her stories to portray her opinions of horror and her perceptions of people in her world. Her point makes it clear to the reader that her stories are twisted representations of the world around her. Not to say that the actions these characters exemplify can only be evil, but that the tendencies that are most commonly unexpected or unseen publicly are cruel as Jackson explains. After some time, the purpose of the tradition has been lost or forgotten; and the characters still continue on with their annual killing or their letter writing out of pure enjoyment or obsession.

The continuation with such a cruel event leads the reader to believe that the citizens are acting out of enjoyment. There is a acquired interest in harming others that propels the characters in both stories to continue with their harmful deeds.

Her stories are especially horrifying to the reader because he or she has the ability to picture themselves within them which makes him or her consider the plausibility of these characteristics of people in the real world.

  • In both stories, someone is attempting to hold on to a past that feel somehow better, perhaps more innocent or more traditional; however, in "The Possibility of Evil," it is Miss Strangeworth, and in "The Lottery," it is the town itself;
  • Summers, who runs the lottery, always talks about building a new box since the current one grows "shabbier each year" and is "splintered badly along one side;
  • Her stories are especially horrifying to the reader because he or she has the ability to picture themselves within them which makes him or her consider the plausibility of these characteristics of people in the real world;
  • Jackson expressed her own personal beliefs and ideas through her stories to portray her opinions of horror and her perceptions of people in her world.

These characters do not have supernatural abilities nor physically terrifying features but rather the descriptions of average, small town citizens. Imagining these actions in his or her life leads the reader to question the make up of themselves and of others around them. It proposes the idea that evil hides within places that it is least expected.

  1. Her stories are especially horrifying to the reader because he or she has the ability to picture themselves within them which makes him or her consider the plausibility of these characteristics of people in the real world.
  2. These characters do not have supernatural abilities nor physically terrifying features but rather the descriptions of average, small town citizens.
  3. The settings intensify the horror of the stories by preparing backgrounds that contradict the events; it is as if there is no warning for what is to come.

If her stories were set in dark, gloomy environments, the dangers would not be as shocking or terrifying as they actually are because the reader would not be picturing themselves in an environment that they cannot relate to.

Jackson points out that the cruelties committed by her characters are not just important because they are evil, but mainly because they are done by the characters that are least likely to be evil. It is as if the reader can sympathize with the characters because they believe that they are relatable, and that is the danger Jackson wanted to explain.

Chelsea House Publishers, 2001. A Journal of Women Studies. A Study of the Short Fiction. An Introduction to Short Fiction. The Life of Shirley Jackson. This module has unpublished changes. Show Comments 0 In order to comment on this portfolio you must be logged in to the school or organization it is associated with. If you have a Digication account, you may log in below: