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Conservatism in Jackson's the Lottery - Essay Example

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Name Instructor Class July 27, 2011 Conservatism in Jackson's The Lottery Conservatism protects traditions and believes in natural and permanent human predispositions. The cultural artifact that will be analyzed for this essay is Shirley Jackson's short story, The Lottery…
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Conservatism in Jacksons the Lottery
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Download file to see previous pages Conservatism stresses that human nature is “unchanging” or “fixed” and has “natural dispositions” (Loptson 93). The Lottery shows the resistance of people to changes, even when their traditions lead to violence and suffering of certain unfortunate, arbitrary individuals. The town performs the lottery with such regularity that it is treated like any other day. For instance, during the lottery, “the men began to gather, surveying their own children, speaking of planting and rain, tractors and taxes” (Jackson). These actions reflect an ordinary day for them. But The Lottery later on reveals the capacity for evil that conservatism can uphold. Apparently, the lottery involves the ancient tradition of choosing a person to stone each year, because of the belief that it will bring prosperity to the town. Old Man Warner says: “Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon” (Jackson). What is further troubling about this ritual is that no one dares to challenge it. Mrs. Adams suggests that “some places have already quit lotteries,” but Old Man Werner stresses that this would be an outrage since “there's always been a lottery” (Jackson). The idea of natural dispositions for conservatism dwell on the evils of humanity. In this town, even children participate in the violent act. Women, men, and children alike stone Mrs. Hutchinson without thinking about the morality of their actions. This story emphasizes the natural evil in people, especially when they are firmly bound to authoritative rituals and beliefs. Freedom from traditions is unheard of for conservatism. The only freedom possible is the freedom to pursue one's individual or group or community goals. While some towns have given up the lottery, this particular town insists on preserving the “institutionalized way of life” (Vincent 58). Conservatism believes in the permanence of the “existing” social order (Vincent 58). The townspeople cherish traditions so dearly that their old black box cannot even be changed, even when it is already severely degraded: “...but no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box” (Jackson). These people are imprisoned by their idea that their freedom is linked to the preservation of their ancient beliefs and rituals. Though they welcomed some changes, such as removing the use of wooden chips and the “tuneless chant” (Jackson), the people generally accept the lottery as a vital part of their everyday lives. They are free to pursue other roles in the community and family life, but never free to change rituals and breach the norms of their lives. Conservatism entails the vision of a good life that is paradoxically materialistic and moralistic. It is materialistic, because of the focus on fundamental needs. Gender roles are pronounced, where men are concerned with “planting and rain, tractors and taxes,” while women spend time for “gossip” (Jackson). Mrs. Hutchinson almost forgets the lottery, because she is busy doing the dishes. These people are preoccupied with their material needs and concerns. A conservative life is also moralistic, but not in the genuinely moral sense. Instead, what is moralized is done ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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