The Lottery and Other Stories

Prominent Themes in The Lottery

Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery is an alarming parable that explores the concept of senseless violence whilst featuring many other prominent themes. The short story revolves around an annual lottery that a village holds to ensure that “lottery in June, corn be heavy soon” (6). Appallingly, the winner of the lottery proceeds to be stoned to death by their friends and family. The foremost theme in The Lottery is tradition, stressing the need to question senseless rituals instead of blindly following them. Jackson also uses the “scapegoat” archetype as a theme when Terri Hutchinson is sacrificed to erase the rest of the villages’ sins. A similar archetypal situation of death and rebirth is also illustrated in the short story. Lastly, the subject of violence and the human capacity for evil is exposed as The Lottery questions the villagers inherent need to collectively murder someone each year. Jackson uses a variety of literary elements such as symbolism and archetype to express these themes, creating an exceptionally compelling story.

The theme of tradition in The Lottery explores why practices such as the stoning ritual of the lottery are accepted by the village simply because “there’s always been a lottery” (6). Amy A. Griffin...

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