Compare & Contrast: "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson and "The Shawl" by Cynthia Ozick

Essay by captainoats17College, UndergraduateA, October 2007

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“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson and “The Shawl” by Cynthia Ozick are two short stories that when read in comparison can be seen as lacking similarity. It is often the case that when literature is read in contrast to another work there are a vast number of obvious differences between them. Aside from the two stories having apparent diversity in authors and characters it can be found that various other elements are exceptionally varied from one another. However, in many cases if a closer look is taken in the examination and comparison of two stories, similarities can be found. Perhaps both stories use symbolism in a similar manner by presenting the reader with a powerful message or maybe the two have a similar plot. Perhaps the similarity lies in something as simple as the theme the story portrays. By taking a closer look as to what “The Lottery” and “The Shawl” have in common, it can be seen that despite their differences they both have similar image presenting symbolism, a theme of survival, as well as a grim plot filled with tension.

It should come as no surprise that both of these shorts stories utilize the literary element of symbolism. Symbolism is used in a story to offer either strong or subtle images of a message that the author is trying to convey to the reader without saying it outright. In Jackson’s “The Lottery,” the small village can be seen as a symbol primarily aimed at illustrating the dangers of the ignorant pursuit of tradition. Just because things have always been done a certain way in this village, does not mean that such practiced traditions are valuable for the people and community. It is possible that this symbol can convey and stress the importance of knowledge...