What is a Lottery?

A lottery is a game of chance wherein people have the chance to win a prize ranging from small prizes to huge amounts of money. Financial lotteries are a popular way of raising funds and the lottery is often used to raise money for public usages such as roads, schools, libraries, churches and canals.

Traditionally, governments have imposed sin taxes on vices such as alcohol and tobacco in order to collect revenue. However, the lottery is a much cheaper form of taxation and does not have the same socially harmful effects as these other vices. In addition, the lottery is a very effective tool for government to use to reach out to the general population as many people are attracted by the possibility of winning big money.

In the short story The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, a lottery is planned to be held in a remote village. The villagers are excited and eager to take part in the lottery. Early in the story Jackson states “The children assembled first, of course” (Jackson 1). It is implied that the children are usually the first to come together for these events and the mention of this shows that the villagers are accustomed to these kinds of gatherings.

As the event draws closer, the villagers become more nervous. The lottery is supposed to be a way for the villagers to better themselves but it seems that nothing of value will actually be achieved by the event. Jackson depicts the vile nature of humans by showing the horrible things that people are capable of doing to one another in a casual setting.