Irony suggests that a word or situation will lead a reader to assume the opposite of what the author intends the topic to represent. Irony creates an undertone that can either be comical or disturbing. Although the reader generally is able to pick up on the ironical twists, the existence of the irony gives insight to the manner in which the author represents situations and characters. Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” uses irony in the idea behind the title of the story and in the name of one of the key characters, Mr. Summers.

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The lottery, as is seen by most people, is a contest in which an individual hopes to win something of value. The lottery is introduced by Jackson as a fun event as it is “conducted – as were the square dances, the teen club, the Halloween program-” (Jackson 1). The irony behind this introduction of the lottery is that the event, although it is a community function, results in the death of one of the members of the village. Winning the lottery is a death sentence instead of a anticipated prize.

The second notable placement of irony was found when Jackson introduced the leader of the lottery as “ Mr. Summers. who had time and energy to devote to civic activities” (Jackson 1). Summer is thought to be a time of happiness, warmth, and activities. Summer is thought to bring fun and laughter. In the case of “The Lottery,” Mr. Summer brought death.

These examples show that Jackson wanted to show the graveness of the lottery while still showing how the village accepted the event. Without irony, the tradition would have been harder to accept. After all, winning a lottery in summer sounds acceptable.