Human Rights at Stake: Shirley Jackson’s Social and Political Protest in “The Lottery”

Zaid Ibrahim Ismael, Sabah Atallah Khalifa Ali


Nowhere is American author Shirley Jackson’s (1916-1965) social and political criticism is so intense than it is in her seminal fictional masterpiece “The Lottery”. Jackson severely denounces injustice through her emphasis on a bizarre social custom in a small American town, in which the winner of the lottery, untraditionally, receives a fatal prize. The readers are left puzzled at the end of the story as Tessie Hutchinson, the unfortunate female winner, is stoned to death by the members of her community, and even by her family. This study aims at investigating the author’s social and political implications that lie behind the story, taking into account the historical era in which the story was published (the aftermath of the bloody World War II) and the fact that the victim is a woman who is silenced and forced to follow the tradition of the lottery. The paper mainly focuses on the writer’s interest in human rights issues, which can be violated even in civilized communities, like the one depicted in the story. The shocking ending, the researchers conclude, is Jackson’s protest against dehumanization and violence.


Violence, World War II, Holocaust, women, dehumanization, human rights

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