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Analyzing the Literary Features of “The Lottery” Essay

In the story of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”, many literary devices are used to convey messages, give clues and give the reader a better understanding on the story overall. Within the story, literary devices such as allegory, symbolism, and satire are used, which are for the moral that Jackson is trying to send to readers. Other devices used are foreshadowing, imagery and irony. Jackson uses imagery to give a good visualization of the setting.

Foreshadowing helps give a clue as to what to happen next in the story, and Jackson uses irony for surprise effect to shock the reader in the end of the story. At the beginning of “The Lottery”, it opens with “The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green. ” This description Jackson gave is a clear example of imagery as she uses phrases such as: “richly green” “blossoming profusely” and “fresh warmth”. After reading this, the reader gets a sense of pleasantness in the story.

Furthermore, Jackson writes “The lottery was conducted–as were the square dances, the teen club, and the Halloween program–by Mr. Summers”. This excerpt meant the lottery is traditional, and is followed by other fun activities such as square dances, the teen club and the Halloween program. From knowing the ending, this is an example of irony because the lottery is thought to be a fun opportune activity, but in the end it is found that the winner receives the prize of death. On forward, the lottery is introduced with the arrival of Mr.

Summers and his black box he brings for the drawing. In the story, Jackson states “The black box grew shabbier each year: by now it was no longer completely black but splintered badly along one side to show the original wood color, and in some places faded or stained”. The literary devices of symbolism and foreshadow are used here because the box color “black” is a symbol of death. With the box being in bad shape being faded and splintered badly, this adds to the symbol of death as fading means disappearing and wood splintering is signs of the wood’s breakdown.

The names of these characters are also a form of symbolism and foreshadowing. Two characters, Mr. Graves and Mrs. Delacroix have names with deeper meaning. In the name “Graves”, grave means death as well, and within “Delacroix”, Croix is the French word for cross, which in the story of the bible, Jesus was sacrificed upon a cross and both are a form of Jackson’s symbolism to give a message. These objects of symbolism give off the literary device of foreshadow as the symbol of death means something bad may happen later within the story.


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