Human Nature In Shirley Jackson's The Lottery

1220 Words5 Pages
Human nature can be characterized as being positive, capable of altruism and goodness which sets humankind apart from savage animals; however, human nature possesses a dark side, namely cruelty, and it is capable of barbarism like any beast. In “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, cruelty is part of human nature, and the participants of the lottery demonstrate human cruelty through violence towards one another; markedly, by exhibiting desensitization to violence and the acceptance of violence resulting in internal dysfunction which is perpetuated yearly.
Participants of the lottery belong to a close-knit community, and every year the community hosts an enigmatic lottery draw. The conclusion of the lottery draw is only mysterious until the outcome
…show more content…
Adam’s and Old Man Warner’s discussion about the idea of giving up the lottery. Old Man Warner states that “there’s always been a lottery” (Jackson 142). The inference of Old Man Warner’s words and tone suggests that there will always be a lottery, and that it should always remain, that it is wrong to question its existence. Given the violent nature of the lottery’s results and its enduring tradition throughout generations of participants, each succeeding generation obviously grows accustom to the violence and brutality it calls for. The children, for example, readily prepare for the occasion by amassing “a great pile of stones in one corner of the square and [guarding] it” (Jackson 139). The gathering and guarding of the pile of stones suggests that the children were preparing for the lottery’s conclusion, and even anticipate participating in it as if it is a game of dodgeball. The eventual outcome and demise of a community member at the end of the lottery event does not faze the youths demonstrating a numbness towards…show more content…
The participants of the lottery were familiar with one another either as neighbors or family and yet readily turned on one another in adherence to the lottery rite. This is counter to what makes a community binding and strong. That friends turn against friends, neighbors turn against neighbors is exemplified when Mrs. Hutchinson and Mrs. Delacroix “both laughed softly” (Jackson 141). The two women are familiar with one another and share a laugh when Mrs. Hutchinson arrives to attend the lottery event revealing how wicked human nature can be, as Mrs. Delacroix readily turns on Mrs. Hutchinson. The ability to have a friend, yet turn on that person so readily is a gauge of how emotionally removed the participants are from one another; however, it is especially conspicuous when Bill Hutchinson, Mrs. Hutchinson’s husband “forced the slip of paper out of her hand” (Jackson 144). Coldly seizing the paper to reveal that she possessed the marked ticket indicates a lack of empathy, not of a friend and a spouse, but as a participant removed from any loyalty to family, instead loyal to the lottery tradition. By holding the slip of paper Mrs. Hutchinson had drawn, Mr. Hutchinson seals his wife’s fate knowing full well what will come next. Mr. Hutchinson had made the choice to essentially betray his
Open Document