An analysis of the secret of the lottery by shirley jackson

At first, one expects the usual convention of a lottery--that someone will win a desirable prize. However, as the reader progresses into the story, ominous details suggest that more is at stake.

An analysis of the secret of the lottery by shirley jackson

At a Glance

The premise is that of a science experiment--an academic exercise to test the reality of house-haunting. I love the fact that the opening pages essentially replicate the clinical nature of the premise: A contemporary editor might have said: Then we follow Eleanor, the main character, as she takes the car she shares with her sister and drives to Hill House.

Again, it takes a few pages to get there, but it allows for wonderful scenes where her imagination takes flight or where she interacts, awkwardly, with the townsfolk in the nearest small town.

The interaction in the diner is classic Shirley Jackson--capturing the suspicion and unease and boredom of small town life. Here is this strong presence who threatens to swallow her up, and in a way, when she walks in, a sort of Gothic romance is born. Is there anyone really?

The Lottery

Maybe Eleanor is mad. Dudley, but Eleanor is still not described as seeing anyone else until Theodora introduces herself. Only the house is tangible in a way. You have Eleanor and her sister, of course, at the beginning of the book, and then the tale of the orphaned sisters who lived in Hill House, and then Eleanor and Theodora themselves, who quickly become like sisters.

All those relationships are marked and marred by jealousy, one that lies just beneath the polite surface of things. Theodora is in the bathroom, taking a bath. Eleanor is in her room, looking out the window. Then in the very next paragraph, with no transition whatsoever, Theodora is suddenly pounding on the bathroom door telling Eleanor to hurry up.

An analysis of the secret of the lottery by shirley jackson

It takes a moment to realize what has happened--to realize that now Eleanor is in the bath, and Theordora is outside waiting for her. Montague is a wonderful character who bursts onto the scene in all her grand foolishness.

Montague perceives after her session with planchette a Ouija board. How she perceives the other characters, how she watches them and listens to them and to the house itself, how she hurtles toward the end "I am doing this all by myself, now, at last; this is me, I am really really really doing it by myself.

And then that amazing ending, recapitulating the opening, and that final word--"alone"--capturing a sense of the house as a sentient being much like Eleanor herself. A truly remarkable book.Twist endings aren’t to everybody’s taste; they might seem contrived, superficial, or too commercial for a serious reader.

An “epiphany” ending might be more resonant, but it’s hard to beat a twist ending for pure entertainment value. "The Lottery" is a short story by Shirley Jackson that was first published in The Haunting of Hill House has 78, ratings and 6, reviews.

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Family and Tradition in The Lottery - Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” published in takes place in a small village in New England.

An analysis of the secret of the lottery by shirley jackson
The Lottery Summary & Analysis from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes