Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” – A Feminist perspective

The critical theory of feminist criticism explores men’s and women’s social experiences, chores, interests, and politics with the aim of understanding gender inequality. Some of its major underlying concepts include patriarchy, sexual objectification, discrimination, and stereotypes. The theory serves as a critical tool for analyzing stories and literature from a feminists’ viewpoint. This section analyzes Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” using the theory of feminist criticism. The story represents an allegorical portrayal of society’s cruel principles and flaws and its impact on people, especially women.

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            The evidence of cruel societal principles in “The Lottery” emerges when the reader encounters the true meaning of the lottery. Rather than present a monetary incentive or award to an anticipated winner, the portrayed village conducts a chilling tradition of stoning a certain person to death. At the same time, the reader becomes aware of the reality of society’s control over women through the imposition of limitations and expectations. The sheer degree of politics involved in the plot exposes that tradition and formality are critical to this society. Indeed, tradition is a custom that binds the actions of everyone in the village. This is clearly evidenced by the black box, which not only dictates the fear of the people but also the authority of those they fear.

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            By the use of phrases like “men folk,” the writer sets men apart from the women and communicates the influence of a patriarchal system. A patriarchal system views women as subordinate to men and accords them with specific duties in family and society. All women in Shirley Jackson’s characters are victims of a patriarchal system as they have different behavior from that of men. Moreover, society expects every woman to be the property of a man through marriage.            

In conclusion, the critical theory of feminist criticism offers a unique view of Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery.” It presents her account as an allegorical portrayal of society’s cruel principles and inequality as far as gender is concerned.

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