Short story The Lottery is one of the most famous works by Shirley Jackson. The main event in the story is a lottery, which is held in some village every year and is a kind of tradition and ceremony for the inhabitants of the village. The beginning of the story is full with factual information. First lines convey the atmosphere of a sunny summer day, when the people begin to gather on the square early in the morning. The description of a carefree environment is explicitly showed with lexical units with common usual positive connotation – we can see such word combinations as clear and sunny, blossoming profusely, and richly green. Lottery is represented as an ordinary event, which can’t distract the villagers from their everyday worries.
Thus, the beginning of the story sets up the reader on the perception of the story of an ordinary event in the life of the inhabitants of the village. Neutral description of the situation does not bode anything unusual or scary, but as the story progresses expectation of a danger becomes the dominant emotion.
Anxious psychological state of lottery participants is transferred gradually, through various means and repetition of the adverb ‘nervously’, the epithet ‘a breathless pause’, and other means. Thus, in the course of the story the word lottery, which usually means winnings and is related to positive emotions, acquires a quite different semantic content. In the semantic structure of the word lottery, a sign of danger and fear comes to the fore, that is, it gains a negative value contextually, contrary to common usage of the word.
As a result, the winner of the lottery is beaten by villagers to death with stones prepared in advance for this purpose. The end of story keeps a sense of routine ceremony for the lottery participants, which adds a particular brutality to a scene of a bloody murder.
It should be noted that a negative colored vocabulary is present only when describing the horror of a dying victim, while the murder scene itself is devoid of words denoting cruelty or violence. In this regard, attention is drawn to the correlation of the following lexical units denoting the characters of the story. If in the beginning they are referred to simply as the people of the village, in the end, they become the crowd of villagers. Semantic meaning of the word crowd is wider than the meaning of the word ‘people’. It has more negative connotations than positive. In this context the word ‘crowd’ in combination with the word ‘villagers’ gives a negative color to the characters, showing how aggressive they are.
Thus, the story The Lottery is built on the principle of antithesis.
Short story The Lottery is one of the most famous works by Shirley Jackson. The main event in the story is a lottery, which is held in some village every year and is a kind of tradition and ceremony for the inhabitants of the village. The beginning of the story is full with factual information.