This story of “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson begins with a description of a relatively serene and tranquil environment. It is set in an unnamed village. The story begins on a fresh, warm summer day. The people of this village gather in the village square with the children. The villagers pile up stones and the lottery commences (Web). This essay aims at analyzing symbolism and irony that occur in this story.
Irony in the Story
It is evident that Shirley Jackson ingeniously used a number of literary techniques while writing the story. One of the most dominant literally technique that she used was irony. In a few words, in any existing society, the lottery is typically thought to be something good. This is because it is associated with winning something that is valuable by nature. For example, it is expected that a person can win money or prizes. However, in this lottery it is ironic as it is not the win that takes center stage, but the loss of a member of the society (Jackson 32).
The reader’s expectations when reading this story, in comparison to the ironic outcome in the final paragraphs, are totally different. This is because the author intentionally uses the third person to dramatize the events that take place in "The Lottery". This enables the author to disguise the outcome of the lottery and makes it a surprise at the end of the story. The outcome is ironical as the readers are made to think that everything is great and no one knows what is on the villagers’ minds. This unpredictability of the story makes its final paragraphs ironic when compared to the reader’s expectations (Jackson 32).
The story vividly describes the town. The author shows where the lottery takes place as it plays a vital role in dictating the events of that day. Shirley Jackson then describes the residents of this small town. She begins with the children who are gathering stones. This clearly points out the boisterous play of children as it is normal for children anywhere in the globe to do so. The author then describes the women of the small town as they gossip. This is common stereotype of behavior of any women anywhere in the world. Lastly, the author describes the men as they congregate together talking about planting trees, paying taxes among other things.
This vivid description of the town, its people, and the weather on that particular day creates a normal mood for the reader with reference to the town and its residents. However, further on the author brings out the unusualness of this town. For instance, the event that takes place during the mid morning. This is ironic as criminal offences in any contemporary society take place during the night, but in this particular town the stoning happens at mid-morning. The author also describes the structures that are around the town square, but fails to point out common buildings such as churches or courthouses which are common in any society. This is ironic as it points out that this town is far from normal (Jackson 34).
Symbolism in the Story
The black box in the story acts like a turning point. This is because black in the society symbolizes evil or death. In this case, it symbolized the evil act of the villagers. From the story it is evident that the introduction of the black box has changed the mood of the villagers. They became uneasy. This is because the black box is a symbol of evil and it instantly changes the previous setting of the story that symbolizes tranquility, serenity to an ominous mood (Bloom 41).
The character of Mr. Graves is symbolical in the story. He symbolizes death through his sinister influence on the events that take place that day. He helps Joe Summer in preparing the slips of paper that each of the villagers is expected to pick from the black box. These slips of paper are the tickets that will send one of the villagers to their demise. Mr. Graves has also brought the stool on which the black box is rested (Bloom 41-42).
Mrs. Delacroix is also symbolical in the story as used by the author. This name is derived from the French names de which means of and la croix which means the cross. Mrs. Delacroix treats Tessie Hutchinson politely when she arrives at the square for the drawing of the paper slips in the black box. However, this changes as she happens to be the first to pick a stone and hurl it at Mrs. Hutchinson when she is condemned to death by the town tradition. This clearly illustrates Mrs. Delacroix’s character as symbolized by her name that is double crossing (Bloom 43-45).
The setting of the story is in a typical town after the Second World War. Shisley Jackson managed to ingeniously bring out irony and symbolism. In the first paragraph the setting proves to be ironical with the end of the story. The characters in the story are also symbolical. Therefore, it is prudent to conclude that irony and symbolism have been well illustrated in the story.