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A Comparison of Two Stories: The Lottery & The Story of an Hour

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The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson, and "The Story of the Hour" by Kate Chopin, both have similarities and differences when it comes to the elements of literature.  Particularly, when the authors use foreshadowing to manipulate the moods of the stories and add irony to cleverly deceive the reader. Both of these stories possess similarities and differences when it comes to their components of the story, specifically the authors’ usage of elements of mood and the tone of irony.

In Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” irony is a major theme. This story is about a town full of elitist snobs that are stuck on their tradition of a lottery, even though it is a grim ritual and rather detrimental to the people in the town. The characters are honoring a tradition that is handed down to them from former generations. The reader is led through the outwardly normal and charming little village, and is taken on a ride of ironic horror as they slowly grasp the annual fate of one the village‘s inhabitants. The title “The Lottery” implies a contest with a winner of some kind, like a sweepstakes. When in reality the winner is actually the loser or person that will die by stoning. At the beginning of this story, the main character, Mrs. Hutchinson, is in favor of the lottery. The atmosphere of the town is casual yet anxious. Mrs. Hutchinson arrives late because she “clean forgot” what day it is. This seems quite impossible to any reader that anyone would forget a day like lottery day. Her procrastination is reasonable but her excuse is lame. Mrs. Hutchinson complains that her husband, Bill, “didn’t have enough time to choose.” And that the results of the drawing were not fair. In these statements, she is implying that the other villagers had more time to choose, and in fact given an advantage over the


Hutchinson family. In reality, time had little to do with the drawing of the “slips of paper.” As soon as they hold the second drawing, Mrs. Hutchinson is chosen. This is the climax of irony of this story. Mrs. Hutchinson is chosen for the lottery. She is shocked and astounded, having believed that she couldn’t possibly be chosen for the lottery. She begs or mercy, but the townspeople are strict with keeping to their traditions and her pleas of mercy fall on deaf ears and she is stoned to death.

“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin is another story that is full of irony. The first irony in this story is detected in Louise’s reaction to the news of her husband’s death. She cries in her sister’s arms, then accepts her husband’s fate and retreats to her bedroom to be alone. While alone in her room, she looks out the window and sees that trees and flowers are budding with spring outside. She realizes that there is a new life for her, just like there is new life for trees and plants after the cold and bitterness of winter. She sits there and begins to think of the new life ahead of her. Throughout her entire marriage, she has felt like a prisoner, and now thoughts of freedom begin to flood her imagination. This is ironic because a newly widowed woman should be grieving the loss of her dead husband, not fantasizing about the new life she will have as a single and free woman. She says a quick prayer that her life might be long. There is irony here because her prayer is useless. Louise does not live very long at all, in fact, she dies a few moments later. As the story closes, we see Louise come down the stairs with a new and refreshed view on life. Just as she descends the stairs, her husband walks through the door. She stops and then drops dead. When the doctors come to examine her body, they day that she died “of a heart disease-of the joy that kills.” The reader wonders if it was joy of seeing her husband


alive that killed her, or if it was shock and horror of seeing him alive. “The Story of an Hour” is similar to “The Lottery” because both stories have surprise endings. In “The Story of an Hour” the reader is not expecting Louise’s husband to walk through the door and cause her to die from the shock. In “The Lottery” we don’t expect Mrs. Hutchinson to be chosen as the ill-fated winner of the lottery, especially when she was the most vocal person in favor of the lottery.

The names of characters in “The Lottery” give some foreshadowing to its morbid end. Mrs. Hutchinson’s friend, Mrs. Delacroix turns on Mrs. Hutchinson with the rest of the townspeople in the end. Delacroix means “of the cross” and crosses are normally used as gravestones

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