Irony in the Lottery


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Is there irony in the Lottery? In Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” irony is an underlying theme used throughout the story. The setting is introduced as a “clear and sunny” day, but ends with the brutal death of a housewife (715). The two people who essentially run the town, Mr. Graves and Mr. Summers, also have ironic names. In addition, the characters and the narrator make ironic statements throughout the story.

Irony in the Lottery The setting set forth by Shirley Jackson in the beginning of The Lottery creates a mood of peacefulness and tranquility. This setting also creates an image in the mind of the reader, the image of a typical town on a normal summer day. Furthermore, Shirley Jackson uses the setting in The Lottery to foreshadow an ironic ending. First, Shirley Jackson begins The Lottery by establishing the setting. To begin, she tells the reader what time of day and what time of year the story takes place.

This is important to get the reader to focus on what a typical day t is in this small town. The time of day is set in the morning and the time of year is early summer. She also describes that school has just recently let out for summer break, letting the reader infer that the time of year is early summer. The setting of the town is described by the author as that of any normal rural community. Furthermore, she describes the grass as “richly green” and that “the flowers were blooming profusely” (196).

Irony in the Lottery

Irony in the Lottery

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The Irony in “The Lottery”



Shirley Jackson wrote the story “The Lottery. ” A lottery is typically thought of as something good because it usually involves winning something such as money or prizes. In this lottery it is not what they win but it is what is lost. Point of views, situations, and the title are all ironic to the story “The Lottery. ” The point of view in “The Lottery” is ironic to the outcome. Jackson used third person dramatic point of view when writing “The Lottery. ” The third person dramatic point of view allowed the author to keep the outcome of the story a surprise.

The outcome is ironic because the readers are led to believe everything is fine because we do not really know what anyone is thinking. This point of view enables the ending to be ironic. The situations in “The Lottery” are ironic. The author’s use of words keeps the reader thinking that there is nothing wrong and that everyone is fine. The story starts by describing the day as “clear and sunny”(309). The people of the town are happy and going on as if it is every other day. The situation where Mrs. Hutchinson is jokingly saying to Mrs.
Delacroix “Clean forgot what day it was”(311) is ironic because something that is so awful cannot truly be forgotten. At the end of the story when Mrs. Hutchinson is chosen for the lottery, it is ironic that it does not upset her that she was chosen. She is upset because of the way she is chosen. She shows this by saying “It isn’t fair, it isn’t right” (316). The situation is extremely ironic to the story. The title of the story “The Lottery” is ironic. By reading the title of the story the reader may think that someone is going to win something.

In actuality when the reader gets to the end of the story, he finds just the opposite to be true. Jackson shows every day as if it is any other summer day. Jackson foreshadows the events to come by writing: School was recently over for the summer . . . Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones, and the other boys soon followed his example, selecting the smoothest and roundest stones; . . . eventually made a pile of stones in one corner of the square and guarded it against the raids of other boys. (310)
After reading this, the reader thinks the children are just collecting stones because that is what children do. They do not expect the outcome to turn out like it does. The title has the reader believing that something good is going to happen, and will not know any different until the end of the story. The point of view, situation, and title all contribute to the irony in the story. These are all equally important to the irony and without them the story would not have been as interesting as it was. If these were not included then the story would not be the same and would not keep the readers’ interest.

Irony in the Lottery

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Irony in the Lottery The Lottery Setting

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