How can other dystopian literature relate to "The Lottery"? 

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Brave New World and in 1984, as well, there are senseless rituals performed in which people participate mindlessly, just as they do in "The Lottery."

Such rituals are used by these dystopian societies to exert mental control over the population and to emotionally engineer the people by directing them in venting innate sadistic tendencies as well as releasing primal unthinking urges. By means of these rituals, hostility is released in a controlled situation, and other urges such as individual expression are subdued.

  • The Solidarity Service 

In Brave New World, the artificial atmosphere of the Solidarity Service is controlled through ritualistic activities that are something like an emotional religious revival. Everyone participates in the orgy-porgy, a mockery of the communion service as they take the hallucinogenic soma and then engage in communal sexual acts. Afterwards, the participants feel "fused into the Greater Being." Most of the participants feel that it "was wonderful."

  • The Two-Minute Hate Session.

The Two-Minute Hate Session manipulates the collective rage of the citizens against enemies of the State. Like the Solidarity Service, this Two-Minute Session unites people in their hyper-emotional state after they have been shown a huge picture of Emmanuel Goldstein, the public enemy. This ceremony, much like the Solidarity Services, serves to channel the high emotional frustration and feelings of people about their low stations in life or disappointing positions. By turning their fears into hatred, the people's thoughts can be controlled, just as the Solidarity Service does in Brave New World.

  • The Lottery

While few citizens remember the purpose of this ritual of horror, it yet appeals to the sadistic urges of the people as they comply year after year. Like the rituals in 1984 and Brave New World, the citizens of the unnamed town adhere to what Emerson called "the opium of custom" and they gather together for a very cruel and now corrupted ritual which permits them to exercise their more primal urges.

Mrs. Delacroix selected a stone so large she had to pick it up with both hands and turned to Mrs. Dunbar. "Come on," she said. "Hurry up."

It is clear that Mrs. Delacroix, among others, delights in this ritualistic act of satiating the sadistic nature within them.

 

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The Lottery

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