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Shirley Jackson's The Lottery - Essay Example

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The purpose of this paper is to explore “The Lottery” and The Lottery, and analysing which medium is more effective in portraying the nature of the tale. It will also cover the differences and similarities between the film and written versions to uncover the reasons behind these differences and the effects that they have on the viewer or reader…
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Shirley Jacksons The Lottery
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"Shirley Jackson's The Lottery"

Download file to see previous pages The plot of “The Lottery” and The Lottery differ slightly. The plotline in “The Lottery” revolves around a yearly important event, which occurs on June 27. Everyone assembles in the normal town, as for a typical local festival, but in this case a sacrifice is to be made to ensure a good harvest for the coming year. Each family have to draw a slip at random from the all-important black box, and that which is marked denotes the family from which the sacrifice will be taken. Each family member then draws again, highlighting the specific person to be stoned to death; in this case, Mrs. Hutchinson.
In The Lottery, this yearly event is still occuring, which the protagonist Jason returning to the town (which he left when he was very small) with his father’s ashes. It is discovered that Jason is one of the Hutchinson’s referred to in the short story version. The plot of the film adaptation is largely based around flashbacks in which Jason remembers the significance of the gravestones, which all bear the same date at death in yearly intervals. As the townsfolk are so desperate to keep the tradition going, it is difficult for Jason to expose the truth; he winds up mentally ill.
Perhaps the reason that both “The Lottery” and The Lottery are so chilling for American readers and viewers is because it is set within a typical small American town of around 300 residents. Additionally, Jackson effectively mixes the conventions of the small town with the outlandish lottery ritual; for example, the residents “in the square, between the post office and the bank, around ten o'clock” (Jackson, 1948, p1), establishing the normalcy of the town. This is used in juxtaposition with the ritual that would not be familiar to readers of the New Yorker or viewers of NBC. In The Lottery, too, the town to which Jason returns is extremely normal and could even be described as idyllic despite the snippets of memory it brings back. The main similarity between the two media used to tell the story of the lottery is that they revolve around many of the same themes. Perhaps the main theme is of ritual. The lottery in both “The Lottery” and The Lottery are fiercely protected rituals that hold a large importance to the townsfolk. There are a number of customs that must be observed before the actual process of drawing the lottery must begin; the “swearing-in of Mr. Summers” (Jackson, 1948, p7), and “a recital of some sort” (Jackson, 1948, p7), for example. The film and print versions also show that the local people are fiercely protective of their lottery. The townsfolk also seem to follow a herd mentality, as there seems to be no real explanation for the lottery or the sacrifice, but everyone continues to follow along with the practice as usual. Despite this, the ritual itself is unimportant in many ways as “the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box, they still remembered to use stones” (Jackson, 1948, p71). This quote is important in many ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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