English 10 Rm 323
October 7, 2013
Shirley Jackson Accentuates Collective Mentality: The Effects and Results within Society
In Shirley Jackson's stories, she highlights the unison, brutal characteristics of a dystopian community. A community containing a particular characteristic in common, consisting of their children representing a blank slate, ready to learn ways of the adults or authorities, that is presented with a dark side of nature lurking behind a collective mentality society. Behind this behavior mentality, the community loses its self-awareness. Thus, resulting in feelings of fear, isolation, hypocrisy, and violence.
Shirley Jackson composes a unified community to display the loss of individuality, and provokes the characters in her short stories to develop inner selfishness and hypocrisy. Because the characters act in unison through their actions, they experience a loss of self-awareness by following the herd and developing into narcissistic people. In "The Lottery" when Mrs.
Delacroix, a personal friend of Tessie, who "stood next to her, as they both laughed softly,"(3) participates in her stoning. Mrs. Delacroix is a fine example of demonstrating the loss of self-awareness and a participant of a herd mentality. She conforms to the actions given by the community, and acts in unison with the them telling her to, "be a good sport."(5). Thus, capable to transition from a personal friend she's chatting with to assisting her community's belief in killing her. Mrs. Hutchinson undergoes character development from a women who, "remembered it was the twenty-seventh and came a-running," to protesting "it isn't fair, it isn't right"(8) due to their unjust traditions. It's at that moment of selfishness and injustice, influenced by a collective mentality, where the characters are driven to act brutal and violent towards each other.