Author about a town that holds an annual lottery,

Author Shirley Jackson is well known for her controversial short stories that depict the evil in human nature. Many of her stories came from ideas and issues that occurred during World War II (Shirley). Jackson’s passion for writing began when she started writing for Syracuse University literary magazine. Her twisted and eery writing style has inspired many well known authors, one in particular being Stephen King. Through observation she noticed people’s underlying intentions, many of which she considered “evil”. These observations lead to many of her stories with the most famous being “The Lottery”. “The Lottery” is about a town that holds an annual lottery, involving the whole community. Everyone picks pieces of paper out of a black box, and whoever gets the paper with a black spot on it, wins the lottery. However, this lottery is not one that you would typically want to win. The winner of the lottery is stoned to death, which the villagers believe will create a bountiful harvest. Through her use of symbolism, characterization and irony Shirley Jackson demonstrates the evil side of human nature.Firstly, Shirley Jackson pokes at the hidden dark side of human nature by the use of symbolism throughout her stories. In “The Lottery”, people of a small American village prepare for a town lottery. On the morning of July 27th every household gathers to participate in the tradition. “They stood together, away from the pile of stones in the corner, and their jokes were quiet and they smiled rather than laugheds specific choice to make the rocks responsible for a person’s death emphasizes the savageness of the lottery and lack of empathy from the citizens. Also, in “The Lottery”, people have to pick pieces of paper from a black box in order to find the winner. The black box had been part of the ongoing tradition of the lottery, and it had never been replaced. “There was a story that the present box had been made with some pieces of the box that had preceded it, the one that had been constructed when the first people settled down to make a village here,” (The Lottery). The box while believed to represent the holy trinity, actually represents the primitive side of human nature. Jackson demonstrates that even though there has been many advancements in civilization, humans still tend to cling to their primitive ideas. The color of the black box itself is used as a symbol, in many cultures the color black symbolizes death. Jackson’s brilliantly states the box looking normal at first, but once it was looked at closer it appered battered. The battered physical condition suggested the “battered” morals of the citizens (The Lottery). Through various accounts of symbolism in “The Lottery”, Jackson successfully displays the gruesome human spirit.Secondly, Jackson illustrates the double-sidedness of human nature by using irony in her works. The setting of “The Lottery” greatly contrasts with what takes place at the end of the story. “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,” (“The Lottery” par. 1). The author makes it seem like it’s another average day in the town. The mood is jovial and carefree. Nothing hints at the brutal murder that takes place at the end of “The Lottery”. The title of the story itself is ironic. The whole idea of a lottery is to win and get a prize. In this story, however, the winner of the lottery is stoned to death by the entire town. Also, the annual lottery is treated like any other event in the town. “The lottery was conducted—as were the square dances, the teen club, and the Halloween program – by Mr. Summers, who had time and energy to devote to civic activities,” (“The Lottery” par. 4). The barbaric lottery is considered a “civic activity”. Likewise, in the critic article titled “Overview of ‘The Lottery'”, critic Jennifer Hicks states, “Some also called to see where the town was so that they could go and watch the lottery. It is this last behavior, the need to feel a part of the gruesomeness that exists in American society that Jackson so skillfully depicts in “The Lottery”,” (Hicks par. 2). “. The townspeople’s nonchalant attitude toward the lottery makes it seem even more horrific. Through these pieces of irony in “The Lottery”, Jackson portrays the evil behind a person’s civil appearance. Moreover, in “Charles”, the author exhibits dramatic irony. Laurie has a story for his parents everyday about Charles the Troublemaker in his kindergarten class. “The parents intently listen to Laurie’s stories. Little do they know that this “bad boy” is their own son. “On Saturday, I remarked to my husband, “Do you think kindergarten is too unsettling for Laurie? All this toughness and bad grammar, and this Charles boy sounds like such a bad influence.”” (“Charles” page 1). The parents finally realize that Laurie is Charles at the parent teacher conference, when Laurie’s teacher tells them that there is no boy named Charles in her kindergarten class. It’s revealed that Laurie himself is the bad influence and the troublemaker of the class. Laurie has a dual personality; He is a nuisance in his kindergarten class, but normal when he comes home from school. These ironic twists in Jackson’s stories, “The Lottery” and “Charles” emphasize a human being’s dual nature.Lastly, Shirley Jackson highlights the duplicity of humanity through her use of characterization. In “The Lottery”, family life is used as a tool of characterization to create a false sense of security. The families in the village gather and gossip like they would in any other gathering. “The women, wearing faded house dresses and sweaters, came shortly after their menfolk. They greeted one another and exchanged bits of gossip as they went to join their husbands. Soon the women, standing by their husbands, began to call to their children, and the children came reluctantly, having to be called four or five times,” (“The Lottery” par. 3). All the villagers seem to be well adjusted and sociable. The evil side of humanity is portrayed when these convivial characters commit the vicious murder of the unfortunate lottery winner. Mr. Summers’ character is described as “a round-faced, jovial man…who had the time and energy to devote to civic activities,” (“The Lottery” par. 4). Mr. Summers seems like the ideal villager. Ironically, he conducts the murderous lottery. Mr. Graves is another important character in the story. Although Mr. Summers conducts the lottery, Mr. Graves initiates it by placing the three-legged stool for the black box in the middle of the square. The rest of the year, the box was put way, sometimes one place, sometimes another; it had spent one year in Mr. Graves’s barn and another year underfoot in the post office,” (“The Lottery” par. 6). Mr. Graves kept the box with him or where he worked. His name itself is foreboding, which leads us to suspect evil surrounding the black lottery box. Furthermore, in the article “Jackson’s’The Lottery'”, critic Seymour Lainhoff states, “The theme of the story: beneath our civilized surface, patterns of savage behavior are at work. The theme is mirrored in the gruesome unfolding of the lottery rite,” (Lainhoff par. 4). Mr. Summers represents the civil appearance of the lottery, whereas Mr. Graves is its evil end. Similarly, in “Charles”, Jackson uses characterization to display Laurie’s double-sided nature. “The day my son Laurie started kindergarten he renounced corduroy overalls with bibs and began wearing blue jeans with a belt; I watched him go off the first morning with the older girl next door, seeing clearly that an era of my life was ended, my sweet voiced nursery-school tot replaced by a long-trousered, swaggering character who forgot to stop at the corner and wave good-bye to me,” (“Charles” par. 1). Laurie’s attire and attitude suggest that he is no longer an innocent little mommy’s boy. He tries to hide the evil side of him from his parents by creating a fake persona named Charles. Shirley Jackson successfully exhibits the duplicity of human nature by the use of characterization in “The Lottery” and “Charles”.In conclusion, demonstrates the diabolical side to humanity through the use of symbolism, irony, and characterization in her short stories, “The Lottery” and “Charles”. “The Lottery” takes place in a seemingly mundane society. It is a bright and sunny day and the townsfolk are amiable. Ironically, when the lottery winner is chosen, the villagers reveal their savage nature and pelt the winner to death with stones. In “Charles”, Laurie hides his evil personality from his parents by acting out in school and behaving at home. People are not always what they seem to be. A person’s evil nature is often masked by their civil appearance.???