According learn the outcome of the story

According to, irony is defined as the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning. In literature, irony is a technique of indicating, as through character and plot development, an intention or attitude opposite to that which is ostensibly stated.

Shirley Jackson’s short story, The Lottery, displays irony in almost every facet of the story. From the reader’s point of view, it is surprising to learn the outcome of the story based on what is written. Jackson creates a false sense about what the story is about by using irony in the title of the story, the setting, and in the characters. She also keeps the reader engaged without giving away anything that reveals how the story ends. The use of irony in The Lottery portrays a positive connotation that ultimately reveals the dark truth about this village. The first example of irony used in Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery is the setting. When the term ‘lottery’ comes to mind, the thought of winning something or getting rewarded closely follows.

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The story begins with “The Morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green {130}. Right away we are painted with a picture of a beautiful summer day. The setting provides us with a carefree vibe that doesn’t foreshadow any unlawful acts that are to occur later in the story.

The story progresses with the villagers gathering in the town square for this lottery, which occurs every year. People are having friendly conversations with one another. “Soon the men began to gather, surveying their own children, speaking of planting and rain, tractors and taxes…their jokes were quiet and they smiled rather than laughed”. {131} This is ironic because there is a jovial tone, like the villagers are gathering for a joyous occasion, but in reality they are not. The kids are out of school and gathering stones, “Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones and the other boys soon followed his example, selecting the smoothest and roundest stones” {131}.

Jackson leads the reader to believe that the kids are just being kids and playing with stones, again it doesn’t reveal what the stones are going to be used for until later in the story. Tessie Hutchinson, one of the villagers, was talking with Mrs. Delacroix and mentioned that she “clean forgot what day it was; thought my old man was out back stacking wood and then remembered it was the twenty-seventh and came a-running” {133} This is ironic because it would be a day that Tessie Hutchinson would never forget and Jackson doesn’t expose her fate at this time, which keeps up with the persona that this is a happy-go lucky time for the village as they prepare for the lottery. The setting correlates with the reader that this is just another regular day for the village.

Jackson’s excellent use of irony leaves the reader without a clue as to what the lottery is for.The paraphernalia used in the lottery is also ironic. The rules of the lottery imply that the heads of each household come forward and select of piece of paper from a black wooden box. Whomever selects the piece of paper that has the black dot on it, is the “winner”.

The color black represents evil or death and is associated negatively, so the box itself provides is a mysterious symbol because of the positive connotation the word ‘lottery’ has. “The villagers kept their distance, leaving a space between themselves and the stool, and when Mr. Summers said, “Some of you fellows want to give me a hand?’ there was a hesitation before two men, Mr. Martin and his oldest son, Baxter, came forward to hold the box steady on the stool.” {132} Jackson continues to be ironic because she is foreshadowing that the black box symbolizes disaster and darkness and isn’t involved with anything that pertains to the joys of winning the lottery.