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Irony In “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson Essay

In “The Lottery”, Shirley Jackson uses foreshadowing, symbolism, and irony throughout her story to show that death is imminent in the end. Not only do time and place bear important clues as to the allegorical meaning of “The Lottery” but the very names of the characters are laden with significance. What is more, it will be shown what an important role these literary devices play in this short story, enriching the meaning, transforming the cruel act of stoning, and the whole process leading to it into a depiction of relations between an individual and the community.


I) Shirley Jackson uses foreshadowing
A) People being late for the lottery, when normally people would rush to want to see if they won, and not one person did.
* B)The names Mr. Graves, Mr. Warner have interesting meanings and Shirley Jackson uses them to foreshadow. *

C)The children picking up stones: evident that the stones are going to be used in a manner not conducive to continued life. *

II) Shirley Jackson uses symbolism
A) Black box *
B) Boys gathering stones and pebbles: Indoctrination or brainwashing that is passed on from one generation to the next. *
C) The meaning behind Mrs. Delacroix and Mr. Summers. Mr. Summers has the appearance of normalcy and cheerfulness hiding evil and corruption. *
D) Village: That which appears normal and even benevolent but which harbors inner corruption and evil. *

III) Shirley Jackson uses irony
A) The word “lottery” suggests that the villagers are going to draw for a prize. *
B) The sunny day suggests that a happy event is about to take place. *
C) When Old Man Warner hears that the north village is considering ending the lottery, he says, “Next thing you know, they’ll be wanting to go back to living in caves.” (The lottery is as savage and barbaric a ritual as any practiced by cave dwellers.) *

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