The Use of Literary Devices in Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" Analytical Essay

The Use of Literary Devices in Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery"
An analysis of the use of three literary devices - foreshadowing, symbolism, and irony - in Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery".
# 153981 | 2,324 words | 3 sources | 2014 | CA
Published by on Aug 11, 2014 in Literature (American)

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From the Paper:

"According to literary critics,the proper and masterful use of literary devices enhances a short story and creates an overall unity of effect. The truth of this statement is perhaps nowhere more vividly demonstrated than in Shirley Jackson's short story, "The Lottery," first published in The New Yorker in 1948, "perhaps the most controversial short story The New Yorker has ever published" (Overbey). In it, a clever balance of foreshadowing and suspense, the subtle use of symbolism, and the unobtrusive use of irony all work together to carry the action of the plot to a stunning and surprising climax.
"Foreshadowing is introduced early in this story, so that even though it opens on a "clear and sunny" morning, "with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day" (Jackson 291), "there is the threat of darkness looming, of things taking a turn for the worse" (Holmes ix), as the village boys begin to put together a pile of stones in one corner of the square. Jackson intentionally does not tell the reader what the stones are for. This introduces an element of suspense, since the stones have obviously been gathered for some purpose. Then, when the men arrive, they position themselves "away from the pile of stones in the corner" (Jackson 292), and although they joke with oneanother, their jokes are "quiet" and "they [smile] rather than [laugh]" (Jackson 292). The crowd that gathers in the town square seems subdued, and there is a feeling of tension in the air, again adding to the suspense and the sense of foreboding. We are told quite early in the story that the purpose of the gathering is to conduct a lottery. However, the behaviour of the people gathered in the square is not the sort of behaviour one would expect at a lottery (as this word is generally understood), and the reader gets the sense that something unusual is about to happen. A further foreshadowing element is introduced when Mrs. Hutchinson arrives: she first speaks briefly to Mrs. Delacroix, and then taps her on the arm "as a farewell" (Jackson 295). Jackson's use of the word "farewell" is telling, for it suggests that this is the last encounter the two women will ever have, and that is exactly what the reader discovers at the end of the story."

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