Analysis of The Lottery and Harrison Bergeron

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“The Lottery” and “Harrison Bergeron” by Shirley Jackson and Kurt Vonnegut respectively are two short stories that show a forced tradition on individuals who have the chance to live an alternative life somewhere else. The analysis of these two short stories show how a lot of people do their best to resist change even while being miserable. In “the Lottery”, the subjects are chosen and killed randomly by lottery in order to prevent overpopulation and starvation (Jackson 25). Even with the negative results of the killings, the people still remained loyal to their tradition and believed that there would be problems if they tried to change. Comparatively, in the “Harrison Bergeron,” the characters who are under-talented or over-talented above the average human abilities were handicapped the Handicapper General to increase or decrease their abilities without protest. However, although the styles or subjects they did not change their lifestyle as they thought to was morally and socially wrong to change their ancient traditions (Vonnegut 927). Therefore, both the lottery and Harrison Bergeron stories describe situations in which the citizens do not seem to break from their culture for fear of associated consequences.

Based on the characters’ comparison of the two dystopian stories portrays both similarities and differences between the two stories. From the two stories’ characters, both the dystopian stories characters portray vulnerability to great leadership and traditions that blind and violate their sense of rightfulness although termed as acceptable and ordinary to individual characters. Both the stories demonstrate dystopian world propagandized as authoritarian and totalitarian characters. The subject characters in both stories lack freedom and individuality control over their life tied to illusions of perfect life. Although both texts demonstrate different concepts and characters’ lifestyles, immoral and depraved characters are vividly demonstrated (Vonnegut 927).

The society in both the dystopian text is portrayed as revolting, sickening, and dehumanizing. However, the stories characters differ in their setting and practice. Comparatively, the difference between Jackson’s lottery story and the Harrison Bergeron is that the characters used in the lottery story have a particular meaning. Individually, Mr. Summer represented the vitality of the current season when the story was set while Mr. Grave visualized a sign of death whereas the Old Man Warner portrayed a particular manner who warned the community against the village breaking away from their existing traditions (Jackson 26).

From a setting context, both the stories are illusions of a perfect utopian society established as a faultiness setting by their authors to the target audience. In the Harrison Bergeron’s story, the story scenes are set in a perfect world where everyone is portrayed as equal, a peaceful setting, and without rivalry. In a perfect environment, Vonnegut uses repetitive writing style to emphasize the idea of utopian setting impressing the idea of equality among the characters. The background of the story vividly indicates that nobody is stronger, smarter or better looking than nobody else. The setting and the background of the lottery story is described as ‘clear and sunny’ with blossoming ‘flowers, and richly greens’ demonstrating a connotation of a happy, blissful, and happy environment (Jackson 28). Besides, the term ‘blossoming’ was used in the lottery text to demonstrate an ironic reference to a new life portrayed the end of the story tied to the nature of death.

With a unique writing style, Jackson’s the lottery story applies the connotations of such words (Sunny and blossoming) to create a sense of normalcy and peaceful environment thereby increasing the devastation of the subsequent environment. The use of family connections based on boys, girls, and woman reference to highlight a normality world demonstrate how the story is set within a complete social environment with clear social roles and responsibilities. However, despite the differences used to build the two short stories; both the stories illustrate a normalized, cruel, and similar setting that exploit the characters to maintain a universal unity and practices (Vonnegut 927). Similarly, the two stories take a similar setup where they utilize a rural setting comprising, the villages, families and their leaders.

From a thematic perspective, the two stories exploit both utopia and dystopia illustrating illusion of a perfect society of a contemporary world. The utopian fantasy visualizes the state, place, and conditions of ideal society marked by politics, customs, and laws while the dystopian theme presents an impossible worst-case scenario of a community maintained through oppressive societal control (Jackson 28). Under utopian and dystopian narrative, the society presented by the two short stories demonstrate an illusion of a perfect community where the subject or citizens are subjected under constant surveillance, fear the outside world, and the figurehead of the society remain worshipped by the entire issue. In the Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron story, the whole society is subjected to the consistent expectations of individuality and equality where everyone is perceived to be commensurable and equal (Vonnegut 927). Similar thematic characteristics of utopia and dystopia are presented in the Jackson’s Lottery story although from a ‘perfect’ town setting where the entire society is subjected to perennial homicide expressed through a lottery.

From an analytical thematic approach, both the short stories reflect the dangers of blindly binding and following traditions leading to oppressive societal control and deaths to the members of the society. The kind of lottery conducted in Jackson’s lottery story is a barbaric and ritual murder of powerless individuals who are idiopathic about the origin and causes of a perennial lottery. Similarly, the theme of randomness of persecution evidenced by Tessie’s death is portrayed in the lottery story whereby Tessie was persecuted for absurd reasons even although morally innocent (Jackson 26). Comparatively, Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron story depicts similar persecution and dangers of blindly adhering to the oppressive traditions even although from a different approach. From the story, the themes of the threat of total equality based on physical and mental equality where citizens are exposed to execution and torture are similar to the lottery execution portrayed in Jackson’s lottery story where members of the community have an equal chance of lottery outcomes (Vonnegut 927). The result of total equality and lottery illustrated in both stories is regarded as a disastrous where balance in the society is achieved through the cost of individual’s achievement and freedom. Besides, the themes of strength, intelligence, and beauty emerge as essential themes that change individual’s inherent characteristics in both short stories.

Based on the two stories writing techniques, the two stories apply similar writing styles that are regular and straightforward demonstrating descriptive, persuasive, and narrative features. Besides, the two stories share identical writing styles such as symbolism, foreshadow, irony, and metaphors (Jackson 28). From a technical symbolism approach, the Harrison Bergeron represents a spark of individuality and defiance that exists in the current American society. The typical writing style and metaphors are used to exaggerate the character’s personality such as an alpha, brave, and towering male with a hunger of power providing a realistic picture of the story’s setting and characters (Vonnegut 927). Physical symbols such as blood, handicaps, and black box emerge in the short stories demonstrating the use of typical style despite the two stories taking a descriptive and narrative approach.

The journalistic and clinical analysis of the writing style used in Jackson’s lottery story demonstrates complete barebones with limited overt emotion or without limited feeling. Primarily, the title of the Harrison Bergeron is symmetrical while the one for the lottery is tilted allowing the messages portrayed in both short stories to give maximum impacts. However, both the authors of the stories transform their stories from realism to symbolism exploiting their stories with much conflicts and suspense. Applying the third person narration, both the two short stories reveal out the characters’ thoughts and feelings (Jackson 26). Consequently, the third person narration of both stories set a unique writing style contrasting the realism and horror events of the stories. In this regard, the horror and realism genre emerge between the two stories even although different dimensions of interests are demonstrated between the two stories.

Extensive analysis of both the stories employment of objective third-person narration Harrison Bergeron n demonstrates a purely observant technique that gives the characters a critical feature, actions, and dialogue. The third person narration has been used by the two stories authors to express the tone of the two stories in a unique manner (Jackson 28). The sound used in both the stories to build the plot and the entire stories temperature can be regarded as deadpan, calm, and detached based on the manner in which the authors eliminates the shifts of narrative voices from generic realism to horror symbolism. However, the two stories differ in style in the two stories’ authors slightly changes the tone to create sympathy and suspense in the novels (Vonnegut 927). Thus, there is an existence of suspense and foreshadowing in both stories even although the uncertainty and foreshadow used in both stories differ in purpose and rationale.

The central conflicts analysis portrayed by both stories demonstrates dramatic conflicts between characters of the society. External disputes of society vs. person exist in both stories especially when the rulers of the community get into conflicts with the characters. For instance, the death of Tessie and other deaths associated with the traditional lottery result in severe in life consequences. Comparatively, the Harrison Bergeron story portrays a similar dramatic conflict between abstract principles rather than characters where the characters are tied to dramatic disputes of equality. The critical and creative analysis of the tragic conflict differences between the two short stories indicates that Jackson’s account of Lottery is demonstrated by the preceding verses the present conflicts, superstition versus reason, tradition versus enlightenment as well as truth versus ignorance (Jackson 27). Comparatively, the Harrison Bergeron story lacks the past versus present conflicts, but the protagonists are ignorant, traditional and superstitious causing person versus society conflicts.

Similarly, there is an existence of an individual or personal struggle portrayed by both stories against the collective accepted social norms in the society in which the two short stories where set. For instance, in Jackson’s lottery story, Tessie protests against her family and society bust her protest is overpowered and ignored by the mutual social acceptance of lottery rituals. In contrast, the Harrison Bergeron story dramatic conflicts are visualized by the past mutability and vaporization to control the society masses and individuals (Jackson 28). Unlike the literary tale, individual versus society conflicts arise in the Harrison Bergeron story by the social independence and prejudice given to people in an assaultive sense and dysfunctional utopia. However, despite the differences and seminaries existing in the two stories, the dramatic conflicts used by each short tale serve as a turning point in illustrating the themes, symbolism, and motifs.

Conclusion

“The Lottery” and “Harrison Bergeron” by Shirley Jackson and Kurt Vonnegut respectively are valuable stories in the contemporary literature underlined with relevant themes, motifs, and symbols that can be used in the current society. The comparison and contrast of the Lottery vs. Harrison Bergeron stories based on their characters, setting, conflicts, themes and writing style provide a realistic feature on how the two short stories context are still in command in the American society. Thus, the two little-shared similarities and differences reveal how different authors have diverse and convergent reasoning in constructing their literary context.

Works Cited

Jackson, Shirley. "The lottery." The New Yorker 26 (1948): pp. 25-28.

Vonnegut Jr, Kurt. "Harrison Bergeron." Ark. L. Rev. 44 (1991): p. 927.

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