What are some examples of irony in "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson?

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Examples of irony in "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson include the title's positive connotation, the names of Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves, and Tessie's encouragement to her husband to select a piece of paper.

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Here are a few examples of irony in "The Lottery":

  • The title of the story, "The Lottery," is ironic. The word 'lottery' has a positive connotation and implies the people playing want to win. A lottery consists of a random winner with the odds stacked against all contestants, but in this case, the winner, whose prize is death by stoning, would not be considered lucky nor do they want to win.
  • The lottery is perceived as an important and necessary tradition, yet ironically, no one can seem to explain where the tradition came from and why they continue to partake in it.
  • The day is described as nearly perfect, yet it ends in a violent murder.

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 ... School was recently over for the summer, and the feeling of liberty sat uneasily on most of them; they tended to gather together quietly for a while before they broke into boisterous play, and their talk was still of the classroom and the teacher, of books and reprimands.

Jackson sets up a beautiful setting which is in stark contrast to the final scene. It's ironic the day is so beautiful, yet it will end in a tragedy.

  • Some of the names in the story create irony. Mr. Summers is the facilitator of the event, and Mr. Graves is his helper. The word summer, like the setting, would suggest something positive, yet he is the person who runs the lottery. And the last name Graves sets up foreshadowing for the rest of the tale adding to the ironic twist at the end.
  • During the lottery, someone mentions that the north village has talked about ending the tradition of the lottery. Old Man Warner, the oldest member of this village, calls the north village a "Pack of crazy fools," which is ironic because that's how they act once the "winner" has been selected.
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A further example of irony comes in the behavior of the adults of the village towards their children. Ordinarily, one would expect parents to protect their children from seeing and doing horrible things. Yet in the village depicted in "The Lottery," it's a different story altogether. The children are active participants in this sordid ritual, innocently picking up pebbles as if they were playing a game, when in fact they're going to join in stoning the sacrificial victim to death.

They are being blooded, if you like—inducted into the ritual to ensure that the tradition carries on long after the older generation has passed away. Far from being protected by their parents, they're being abused, their innocence as children sacrificed as much as the lives of the ritual's victims.

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There are a number of examples of irony in the "The Lottery."

First, there is irony in the story's title. The word "lottery," for example, suggests that something positive is going to happen, but this could not be further from the truth. In this story, winning the lottery means that you are stoned to death, not the recipient of a great prize.

Secondly, the description in the first paragraph of the story is also ironic. Jackson describes the day as "clear" and "sunny," for instance, and notes that the flowers are "blossoming." Again, this suggests that something good is about to happen since the setting is so peaceful and idyllic. The reader, however, has no idea that such a violent and bloody event is about to take place.

Finally, there is some irony in the comments made by Old Man Warner. He states that another village wants to give up the lottery and suggests that this will lead to people "living in caves" and everyone giving up work. For him, giving up the lottery is like taking a step back in time and living like barbarians. In reality, however, there is nothing more barbaric than a lottery which leads to the stoning of innocent villagers.

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"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson is a story which contains many examples of irony.

The first, of course, is that the title and opening paragraphs all indicate that the lottery is something positive and beneficial when, in fact, it is anything but that. The day is normal and beautiful, and the lottery is compared to a square dance and an innocuous Halloween party. In actuality, the lottery is a dance with luck that will end in a stoning. 

Another irony is that everyone in town seems to care about one another, wanting to make sure no one misses out on the festive occasion; what they really want, we learn, is to be sure everyone has the same chance of losing as they do.

It is also ironic that Tessie Hutchinson actually encourages her husband to go pick his piece of paper:

"Get up there, Bill," Mrs. Hutchinson said.

His selection, which she is so eager for him to make, leads directly to his wife's death, and that is ironic.

At the beginning of the story, Mrs. Delacroix is a sweet and loving friend to Tessie; however, things change quickly and, by the end of the story, the image we have of her changes dramatically.

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 ironic that the loving mother Tessie is in the beginning of the story becomes a mother ready to sacrifice even her children to save herself.

The final irony is Tessie's final protestation:

"It isn't fair, it isn't right," Mrs. Hutchinson screamed, and then they were upon her.

This is ironic, of course, because if anyone else but her had been the lottery loser, she would have thought the lottery was perfectly fair and been quick to pick up her share of stones.

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There are a few ironies in the story. In fact, these ironies are disturbing. 

First, those who believe strongly in the lottery, do so with joy. They think that the lottery is something that should be celebrated, or something that people should look forward to, when in fact, it is a ritual of death. Here is a quote that shows the deep irony of this point.

The lottery was conducted--as were the square dances, the teen club, the Halloween program--by Mr. Summers. who had time and energy to devote to civic activities.

It should also be noted that Mr. Summers thought that stoning someone once a year was a civic activity. 

Second, the whole concept of a lottery is ironic. This is probably the biggest irony in the story. A lottery suggests winning something. For example, people may say that they wish they could win the lottery. However in this case, the winning of the lottery is death by stoning. So, the very connotation of a lottery is turned upside down. Ironic. 

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One of the most direct examples of irony in "The Lottery" comes from the connotation associated with the word 'lottery.'  Most people would associate winning a lottery with receiving a fabulous prize or millions of dollars in cash; the term 'lottery' usually has a very positive connotation.  The end of the short story strikes the reader as being very ironic, because in this instance, winning the lottery does not equate a grand prize, but rather a gruesome death by stoning.

Shirley Jackson's story is all about the unexpected; she lulls the reader into a false sense of security with the seemingly positive setting, the quaint small town with its farmers discussing plows and the wives in their "house dresses with sweaters."  The setting makes the reader feel comfortable and relaxed, never supposing that this seemingly sweet town could host such a brutal tradition.  The setting is definitely another ironic twist in the story, driving home the point that even seemingly good people can contribute to something horrible for the mere sake of tradition.

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What are some examples of situational irony in "The Lottery"?

In Shirley Jackson's short story entitled "The Lottery," there are several instances of situational irony; that is, there are discrepancies between what is expected to happen, or what would be appropriate to happen, and what does occur.

In the exposition of the story, the opening paragraph describes a "clear and sunny" summer day in which the flowers are in bloom, and the grass is fresh and green. The boys break into "boisterous play," and their talk is school-related. Bobby Martin has filled his pockets full of stones, and the other boys do the same. At this point in the story, the reader may well expect the boys to engage in some challenge to see who can throw a stone the farthest, or perhaps there is a stream nearby, and they will skip the stones on nearby water on this pretty summer day. Certainly, no reader expects these children to throw stones at a person with the intention of killing that person as they later do.

Another instance of situational irony involves the description of the old lottery ceremony. At one time, there was "a recital of some sort, performed by the official of the lottery, a perfunctory, tuneless chant that had been rattled off duly each year," along with ritual salutes used in addressing each person who came forward to draw from the box. This ritual is described as being similar to those of renowned lodges and benevolent organizations, all of which promote patriotism, citizenship, charity, brotherly love, and good fellowship. Such a description, then, leads the reader to think that the lottery is supported by similar values. But when the remaining rituals are performed, and the name is drawn in the town lottery, what then occurs shocks the reader.

Still another example of situational irony occurs with the characterization of Mrs. Delacroix. When Mrs. Tessie Hutchinson arrives late, she remarks to Mrs. Delacroix, "Clean forgot what day it was," and they both laugh. Then, as Mrs. Hutchinson moves away to join her family in front of her, she taps Mrs. Delacroix "on the arm as a farewell." Apparently, the two women are at least casual friends. But, when it is time for everyone to throw stones at Tessie, Mrs. Delacroix unexpectedly selects "a stone so large she had to pick it up with both hands." Then, she urges another woman to "Come on....Hurry up," displaying an eagerness to engage in the stoning of Tessie Hutchinson, whom she previously has seemed to like.

With this use of situational irony throughout her narrative, Shirley Jackson effectively produces the horror of the ending.

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What are some examples of situational irony in "The Lottery"?

First, let's define situational irony. According to literarydevices.net,

"Situational irony is a literary device that you can easily identify in literary works. Simply, it occurs when incongruity appears between expectations of something to happen, and what actually happens instead." 

In other words, situational irony is when the opposite of what the reader expects to happen in fact happens.

1) The very first sentence of the story sets the reader up with expectations of a story about a pleasant day and a pleasant gathering in a village: 

"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."

Everything in the sentence, all of the imagery and descriptions, gives the reader a sense of joy and happiness and growth. But this is not the story that is told.

2) The reader doesn't know what "the lottery" is, but the assumption or expectation is that it's a normal, joyful town event. Jackson writes,

"The lottery was conducted--as were the square dances, the teen club, the Halloween program--by Mr. Summers. who had time and energy to devote to civic activities."

So "the lottery" is being compared to other events that most readers will have experienced. But again, the reader will discover later that the lottery is nothing at all like such events.

3) Right before the lottery is about to begin, Jackson describes the following:

"Mrs. Hutchinson craned her neck to see through the crowd and found her husband and children standing near the front. She tapped Mrs. Delacroix on the arm as a farewell and began to make her way through the crowd. The people separated good-humoredly to let her through: two or three people said. in voices just loud enough to be heard across the crowd, "Here comes your, Missus, Hutchinson," and "Bill, she made it after all." Mrs. Hutchinson reached her husband, and Mr. Summers, who had been waiting, said cheerfully. "Thought we were going to have to get on without you, Tessie." Mrs. Hutchinson said. grinning, "Wouldn't have me leave m'dishes in the sink, now, would you. Joe?," and soft laughter ran through the crowd as the people stirred back into position after Mrs. Hutchinson's arrival."

The words bolded in this paragraph, as well as the general casual and friendly tone, all set the reader up to believe that something pleasant or amusing is about to happen.

These are just three examples of situational irony. The reader awaits something good, when in fact at the end the reader learns that "the lottery" is a ritual wherein through a drawing, one of the village members is stoned to death by the rest of the villagers. Thus the complete opposite of what the reader expects, through the tone and language of the author, is what happens, which is situational irony.

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Explain the irony in "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson.

"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson has been developed around situational irony, a literary device in which the audience is led to expect an event that is completely different from what actually happens. The title, "The Lottery," implies a positive event because lotteries are traditionally carried out to award money or prizes to the winner. Participation is usually voluntary, and the winner receives a prize after being selected randomly—that is, based on luck. However, the outcome of the story is completely different from what the title implies. A lottery is carried out with the aim of selecting an individual to stone to death. The audience expects the winner to receive a grand prize, but instead a painful and tragic death is what they get.

In addition, the setting is made to hide the fact that something abnormal and dreadful is about to happen. Each member of the community is seen to be going through their normal daily routine. When they meet at the square, the children are playful, the men have conversations around their work, and the women are also engaged in conversations. The setting reinforces the audience’s expectations of a happy ending until the tragic stoning occurs and the truth of the event is revealed.

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Explain the irony in "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson.

The definition of irony is a contrast between two things. For example, verbal irony is a contrast between what someone says and what he means, while dramatic irony is a contrast between what the characters know to be true and what the readers know to be true. Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" contains many examples of irony.

Dramatic irony begins before we even begin to read, as we have come to associate a lottery with something good and pleasant. The day is beautiful and everything seems right with the world, and yet before the day is over someone will be stoned to death. The characters in the story know it, but we do not. Jackson puts this lottery in the same category as other harmless things, and we take her at her word.

The lottery was conducted--as were the square dances, the teen club, the Halloween program--by Mr.
Summers. who had time and energy to devote to civic activities.

We expect a joyful occasion but what we get is a public stoning. When Mr. Summers wants to be certain everyone is there, it is not because he wants them all to have an opportunity to win but because everyone must be equally at risk for death. 

The narrator ironically tells us that,

[a]lthough the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box, they still remembered to
use stones.

Though no one remembers why they must stone one of their citizens to death each year, they certainly remember how to throw stones at someone until she dies. 

At the end of the story, Tessie Hutchinson screams, "It isn't fair, it isn't right." While it is true she means these words, it is ironic in that if anyone else would have gotten the marked piece of paper Tessie would certainly have been one of those throwing stones at another. 

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What is the irony in the setting of "The Lottery"?

The calm and normal of this setting is what makes this situation seem so terrible.

It is the irony of the story that brings about a grander purpose. This isn't so much about a town wherein this vulgar act actually happens, it is more about us.

We have rituals or routines that we observe regularly because we are used to always doing them. To us, we cannot see the absurdity of these acts because we have been doing them for so long and in our lives' settings, these seem normal.

These folks can't see that the lottery is wrong. The setting perpetuates this because all of the acts that they do (wash dishes, enjoy the nice summer day, play by the rock pile, shoot the breeze) are normal. The lottery is just an annual part of that normal. The irony of this story is the literary device used to make the reader think and consider their own life.

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What is the irony in the setting of "The Lottery"?

The essence of irony is opposition.  The setting in Jackson's "The Lottery" is ironic because what the story suggests, and what the reader expects of the setting while reading (normal village with normal people who do normal things) turns out to be untrue.  Opposition, or opposites.

The speaker of the story achieves this irony by revealing only the normal, until it is time to show the reader the abnormal.  For instance, the reader is not shown character thoughts.  If he/she were, the horrifying effects of the ending would be largely eliminated. 

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What is the irony in the setting of "The Lottery"?

The irony of the setting is that it is a lovely, peaceful village with all sorts of people who seem very normal.  It seems like the kind of place you would want to live and the kind of people who you would like to have as your neighbors and friends.

But then, in this nice place, we find out that something horrible is going on.  This is ironic because it is something that is totally unexpected.  You do not expect to see something this horrible in such a nice, beautiful setting.

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What is ironic about the conversation in "The Lottery"?

It is ironic that Tessie protests her own selection when it is probable that she has participated in these lotteries and executions before.  It is also ironic, as noted in an exchange between her and Mrs. Delacroix, that she almost missed the lottery because she forgot that it was the 27th.  There's even an exchange between Mr. Adams and Old Man Warner about some towns giving up the lottery, but they dismiss that as the crazy notions of young people who do not appreciate the traditions of their elders.  

The most ironic part of all is an exchange between the townspeople in general as they discuss things such as the weather, their farms and taxes when they are about to commit a ritual human sacrifice.  They don't regard stoning as barbaric--they consider themselves "civilized."

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What is ironic about the conversation in "The Lottery"?

In Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery", the conversation takes on an ironic tone in at least two places.  One is the commonplace tone of the talk of taxes and everyday life when a death is imminent.

Perhaps more ironic is that Mr. and Mrs. Adams casually suggest that it may be time for the community to quit lotteries with one of them even adding that some communities have already quit. They are, of course, opposed by Old Man Warner who says there has always been and should always be  a lottery. Ironically, the text points out that both the Adams couple and Old Man Warner are up front participating in the communal stoning of Tessie.

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What are some ironic things about "The Lottery"?

As has already been pointed out, the entire story is dripping with irony. There is irony in the setting, in the character's actions and comments, and even in the lottery itself:

It is most ironic that "winning" has a cost, and the cost of winning the lottery is death.

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What are some ironic things about "The Lottery"?

It might be easier to say what isn't ironic about Jackson's classic story!

It is ironic that the children are feeling "liberty" when one of the town is about to be killed.

It is ironic that this killing ceremony is held in the same place and by the same person as the other "civic activities."

It is ironic that the lottery box is such a point of tradition (when it is an object of death).

It is ironic that the townspeople are so casual about where it is stored.

It is ironic that the people part " good-humoredly" for Mrs. Hutchinson when she needs to get through.

Old Man Warner's statement is ironic: "Listening to the young folks, nothing's good enough for them." Being killed isn’t good enough for them?

And of course, that everyone is so concerned about fairness when this is random death we're talking about, that too is ironic.

Greg

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What is the situational irony in "The Lottery"?

In literature, irony is basic term for the difference between the way things seem and the way they actually are, or what the readers or audience expect and what they get.  Situational irony is a more specific sub-category of irony; it occurs when the reader, audience, or characters expect one thing, but get another.

The general premise of "The Lottery," a short story written by Shirley Jackson, involves situational irony.  In the story, the citizens of a rural farming village meet in the square in order for the town's annual lottery to be held.  The name of each citizen is entered in the drawing, and a generally festive attitude seems prevalent until near the end of the story. 

 For the most part, readers assume that the "winner" of the lottery will earn some pleasant reward, or be given something good.  However, the person whose name is drawn in this story (Tess Hutchinson) is stoned by the townspeople because they believe that doing so will ensure a good crop.  Basically, their unwillingness to part with tradition results in an annual murder.  This surprise is an example of irony of situation, or situational irony.

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What is an example of irony in "The Lottery"?

Another example of irony in Shirley Jackson's story which may not have been mentioned because it is not conspicuous is the fact that this deadly lottery is taking place in a part of the American  Midwest and at a time when the vast majority of the population were devout Christians and regular churchgoers. Naturally they would have been taught since childhood that one of the Ten Commandments was "Thou shalt not kill" and that they should love their neighbors as themselves and do unto others as they would like others to do unto them. And they may have believed in these teachings and tried to abide by them for 364 days of the year--but on that one day in June they murdered one of their own neighbors in a most terrible fashion. The story has nothing to say about churches or church attendance; otherwise the storm of protest that followed its publication in The New Yorker would have seemed trivial in comparison  to the reaction that would have otherwise occurred.

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What is an example of irony in "The Lottery"?

The biggest example of irony in "The Lottery" is the title itself. Most people associate a lottery with drawing for a prize of some sort. The brutal nature of the ritual and its acceptence in the town is in direct odds with calling it such a innocuous name. Since the person who "wins" the lottery is stoned to death, people are truly hoping not to win, also in opposition to most lotteries where people try to win. Even the ritual itself is set up like a town fair, with everyone gathering and then going home for dinner; the children participate, and no one thinks anything is wrong with it. 

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What is an example of irony in "The Lottery"?

The largest irony in "The Lottery" comes from the lottery itself.  Usually most people view winning the lottery as a huge positive event; however, in Jackson's "The Lottery," the winner does not receive fabulous prize winnings.  Instead, the villagers all converge on 'the winner' and stone him or her to death.  From the moment at the beginning of the tale when the boys fill their pockets with stones, Jackson carefully builds on the tension of the outcome of the lottery all the way through the story without giving away the fact that the end result is a brutal stoning.  Indeed, this is one "lottery" that nobody wants to win.

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Identify how irony is used in "The Lottery."

You have asked more than one question so I have edited it down to only one question, per enotes rules. However, this is a very interesting topic. Of course, irony comes into its own in this terrifying short story which has such a sting in the tail at the end of it for its readers. For me, the biggest form of irony that operates in this short story is dramatic irony, but dramatic irony with a difference. Normally dramatic irony operates when the audience and one (or more) of the characters knows something that another character or group of characters does not. What is fascinating is that in this short story, all the characters know what is going to happen - it is us, the audience or readers, who are deliberately kept in the dark until the very end. So therefore, the story achieves this surprise through a combination of dramatic irony and then situational irony, for we are surprised by the ending greatly.

Of course, looking back at the story after the first reading, we are able to pick up clues that we glided over before. For example, the reference to stones has a new, chilling meaning:

Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones, and the other boys soon followed his example selecting the smoothest and roundest stones; Bobby and Harry Jones and Dickie Delacrois - the villagers pronounced this name "Dellacroy" - eventually made a great pile of stones in one corner of the square and guarded it against the raids of the other boys.

Of course, on first reading, we think that this is just some kind of childish game, and never would we suspect the real reason why they gather stones. Equally, Mr. Summers's speech about the Lottery and its importance, and why it should be carried on in spite of other villages abandoning it also assumes new importance.

The real sting in the tail comes at the very end of the story:

Tessie Hutchinson was in the centre of a cleared space by now, and she held her hands out desperately as the villagers moved in on her. "It isn't fair," she said. A stone hit her on the side of the head.

As the story closes with the village stoning her to death, we are left in a state of shock produced by the irony employed in this excellent, masterful and chilling tale.

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