Jan 8, 2019 in Comparative Essays

The short stories "The Lottery" by S.Jackson and "The Most Dangerous Game" by R.Connell

Being written by skillful writers, short literary stories may consider a numerous important human problems. Using a variety of themes as well as the characteristics of their heroes, the authors of short stories tell readers about particularly important human problems. The short stories The Lottery by Shirley Jackson and The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell allow seeing this. Their small volume does not detract from their philosophical and social importance for people, focusing on several important issues. Despite the difference in their storyline, one can also find similarities between them, which are expressed in the attempts of their authors to consider the problem of humanism in the modern world. Both authors emphasize the brutality of a modern man, especially in relation to other people though inhumane treatment of animals is also depicted, in particular, in The Most Dangerous Game. What is more, one might see that the stories are written using the same technical literary devices and methods making a depiction of the problem a luminous one.

From the beginning, The Lottery allows one to feel some tension and ambiguity of the situation described. Both adults and children gather stones, which should be used for a purpose that is at first unknown. What follows is a description of how people come to the city square in order to participate in the lottery, which is held on June 27 anually. People gather in the square at ten in order to determine who will be the lucky one to take a ticket stamped by twelve o’clock. They all want the lottery to “begin at ten o'clock in the morning and still be through in time to allow the villagers to get home for noon dinner” (Jackson, 2005).

The final of the story is quite unexpected, since it turns out that the one on whom the lot falls is to be stoned to death. This short story is full of a lot of psychology, the basic essence of which is to convey the horror of a cruel game called lottery. The author draws attention to the anti-humanism of modern people who take part in it either to have fun or because they do not care of their own lives as well as the lives of others. They continue participating in the lottery. The originality of this story is that Jackson used a special artistic technique when it looks as if everything is alright, but one cannot help feeling that something terrible is about to happen. Using this technique the author conveyed the cynicism and cruelty of the whole situation.

The Most Dangerous Game has a different storyline and tells of a hunter Rainsford who falls into the sea from a ship for Rio de Janeiro. Being unable to catch up with the ship, he decides to sail to an unknown, which many sailors are afraid of. On the island, he is welcome by General Zaroff who preys on people seeing it as the most exciting existing entertainment. In fact, his “whole life has been one prolonged hunt” (Connell, n. d.). Rainsford  also becomes a victim but in the end of the story he kills Zaroff. The meaning of the story is that Rainsford receives a personal experience of psychological suffering when being a victim at the hands of the hunter. If he initially did not believe in the suffering of animals in hunting pursued, at the end of the story he understands all the horror that the victim feels trying to save his/ her life. Like The Lottery, the story addresses to the theme of humanity and not only towards people but also towards animals.

Another feature of the story that makes it similar with The Lottery is the fact that it uses the description of external harmony and tranquility accompanied with the feeling that something is wrong and one should expect something bad and terrible to happen. Indeed, the General Zaroff shows a high degree of politeness, education and literacy. Everything seems to be good, even perfect – the food, cloth, etc. He considers himself as a civilized man and tends to civilization in all, but the more Rainsford contacts him, the more he is certain in Zaroff’s animal cruelty and coldness. The same cruelty and indifference to human life can be observed in The Lottery when people want to finish a lottery as soon as possible and return to their homes, while it is all about human life! In the lottery, even small children are involved, and each of them can lose his/ her life at the hands of his/ her own peers who like their parents do not care much if they kill their neighbors, friends or even relatives. The horror of the situation is inscribed in everyday life that makes it even more tragic.

To sum up, the main difference between the two stories is their plot, while one might find a sufficiently large number of similarities. Firstly, the basic idea of both authors is related to the problem of humanism in the modern world and shows the horror of human cruelty, even in relation to a close or familiar people. Secondly, both authors use similar techniques, which is a combination of the two opposite characteristics. One of them shows the external harmony, tranquility and routine; in turn, another hints at special tension associated with the sense that something terrible is about to happen in the future. Finally, the theme of a game is also used in the stories. It gives both authors the opportunity to demonstrate the breakdown of human civilization, where the most violent manifestations of anti-humanism and composure take the form of a lottery or hunting, and it makes the problem even more acute.

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