Societies that are futuristic in settings are what we call a dystopian society. Dystopia is literary the opposite of what a utopian community will be like. In dystopia, everything is distorted where people are ruled by either a strong-opposed individual through the use of militarism or technologies and also by technology themselves. Citizens of a dystopian community doesn’t hold their own rights and are usually treated inhumanely, creating a fearsome and dark environment.
Short stories such as “The Lottery” written by Shirley Jackson typically follows a dystopian society. The author first introduces the story to be a utopian community where she describes the day as “clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green (Para. 1).” This entices our feeling of comfort and invites us to see what this day is all about, not knowing of what might happen in the end. The fact that Jackson first introduces us into such a calming scenery but ends it in such a misery, dehumanizes the mindset that such a “perfect” community can hide such monstrous activity.
Dehumanization is a great deal in this short story where the villagers are blindly following the tradition of stoning the lottery’s winner to death and treating the event like a festivity. Dehumanization is also seen through the villager’s actions such as: “The people had done it so many times that they only half listened to the directions; most of them were quite. wetting their lips. not looking around (Para. 20).”
Jackson creates this sense that these villagers have done it so many times that they don’t even care anymore and just what this lottery to be over with, so that they can go back to their daily lives. The villagers were describe as quite because they don’t want to make the lottery any longer than it is already and it can also be taken up as an acceptance to the events that follows. Some are wetting their lips which creates this anxiousness and ill-minded thoughts of wanting to kill someone. Excitement that they too will have a bountiful year again through the sacrifice of one of their own.
Fear is yet another convention of dystopia that Jackson utilizes in this short story. Fear of the unknown by the audience and the fear of death. Fear is seen through the character of Tessie Hutchinson, who in the beginning of the story where like everybody else. She was nonchalant to the event and was conversing with the villagers like normal people would but all of this changes after she was picked by the lottery. She screams and tell everyone how “it isn’t fair, it isn’t right (Para. 80),” which contradicts her actions in the beginning.
Fear is also seen where the villagers were “not looking around (Para. 20),” which describes how they individually doesn’t want to see the faces of the people who they will have to kill or know that they can be the one to die that day. The black box that contains the papers of the lottery is a symbolism of fear in the story. It presents death not only by the use of the color black but also because it holds the one paper that is the deciding factor of being the winner of the lottery. This is seen as “the villagers kept their distance, leaving a space between themselves and the stool (Para.4),” where they are unconsciously afraid of the lottery but doesn’t protest about its effects.
“Dystopias: Definition and Characteristics.” Readwritethink.org. ReadWriteThink, n.d Web. 18 Jan 2013 “The Lottery.” American Literature. N.p, n.d Web. 18 Jan 2013