169 The Lottery Essay Topics & Questions for Analysis and Argumentative Papers

“The Lottery” is a chilling short story by Shirley Jackson.

Each year, the townspeople gather to hold a lottery. After winning the local lottery, the winners don’t receive any money. Instead, they are stoned to death. Shirley Jackson portrays the brutal and senseless violence lurking beneath the surface of an ordinary small town.

Continue reading this article to find various topic selections and essay prompts. And don’t forget about a bonus at the end: a writing guide for an essay on “The Lottery.”

⭐ Top 12 The Lottery Essay Topics

  1. The role of tradition in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.”
  2. The power of groupthink in “The Lottery.”
  3. Symbolism and foreshadowing in “The Lottery.”
  4. The use of irony in “The Lottery.”
  5. The significance of the title in “The Lottery.”
  6. The relationship between gender and violence in “The Lottery.”
  7. The theme of blind obedience in “The Lottery.”
  8. The significance of the black box in “The Lottery.”
  9. The role of fear in “The Lottery.”
  10. The importance of setting in “The Lottery.”
  11. The theme of human nature in “The Lottery.”
  12. The role of sacrifice in “The Lottery.”
The picture provides examples of topics for The Lottery essay.

✏️ The Lottery Essay Prompts

Don’t know where to start your essay on “The Lottery”? The writing prompts below can help you find inspiration for your paper.

Symbolism in The Lottery: Essay Prompt

In Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” symbolism is significant in conveying the story’s themes and underlying messages. Discuss how it is used in the story. Explain how symbolism contributes to the overall meaning of the work.

Consider the following symbols: the black box, the stones, and the lottery itself.

  • What do these symbols represent?
  • How do they reflect the story’s central themes of tradition, violence, and conformity?
  • How does Jackson’s use of symbolism create tension and build toward the story’s shocking conclusion?

Use evidence from the text to support your analysis.

The Lottery Theme: Essay Prompt

In Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” the author explores the theme of blind obedience.

In your essay, provide examples from the text that support this theme. You can use the story’s climax as an illustration. Describe how Tessie’s selection as the sacrificial victim highlights the consequences of mindlessly following authority.

You may also discuss how the story’s message can be applied to real-world situations. You could write about politics, religion, or social norms. Explain how it can serve as a warning to people who are led by society.

Setting of the Lottery: Essay Prompt

In Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” the setting is essential to the story’s meaning. Analyze how it contributes to the overall theme and message.

  • Describe how the setting creates a sense of familiarity and unease for the reader. You can also define how it foreshadows the eventual violence and horror of the lottery.
  • Consider how the small-town atmosphere, with its traditions and social hierarchies, contributes to the theme. Discuss how the story’s setting reflects the period in which it was written. Write about the social pressures in post-World War II America.
  • Explain why the story’s setting resonates with contemporary readers and how it contributes to its impact.

Prompt for Compare and Contrast Essay on The Lottery and The Hunger Games

Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and Suzanne Collins’s “The Hunger Games” explore the theme of ritualized violence. You can compare and contrast the portrayal of this theme in the two texts.

  • Consider the similarities and differences between how the societies in each story use ritualized violence.
  • Compare the protagonists of each story, Katniss Everdeen and Tessie Hutchinson. Describe how they respond to the violence in their respective societies.
  • Discuss how each story uses the theme of ritualized violence to comment on real-world issues, for instance, the effects of societal structures and power dynamics on individual agency.
  • Define which story offers a more effective critique of the dangers of ritualized violence in society.

🤔 Topics for The Lottery Analysis Essay

Below, we’ve selected the best Lottery essay topics for your literary analysis paper. Check them out to get inspired!

The Lottery Critical Analysis Essay: Topics

  1. Symbolism in “The Lottery”: the deeper meaning behind the lottery process.
  2. The theme of blind adherence to tradition in “The Lottery.”
  3. The role of violence in “The Lottery” and its impact on the plot.
  4. The social commentary on conformity and collective psychology in “The Lottery.”
  5. Psychological effects of the lottery on the characters in Shirley Jackson’s story.
  6. The role of fear and manipulation in “The Lottery.”
  7. Analyzing the use of suspense and foreshadowing in the story.
  8. The theme of sacrifice in “The Lottery” and its implications.
  9. The concept of scapegoating in “The Lottery.”
  10. The significance of the black box and its symbolism in “The Lottery.”
  11. The portrayal of mob mentality and its consequences in “The Lottery.”
  12. Evaluating the portrayal of community dynamics in the story.
  13. The ethical implications of withholding information in “The Lottery.”
  14. The use of irony and its purpose in “The Lottery.”
  15. Analyzing the role of gender and power dynamics in “The Lottery.”
  16. Comparing the lottery in “The Lottery” to real-world rituals and traditions.
  17. The portrayal of power structures and hierarchies in “The Lottery.”
  18. Analyzing the connection between tradition and progress in “The Lottery.”
  19. Exploring the historical and cultural context of “The Lottery.”
  20. The use of setting and atmosphere to enhance the narrative in “The Lottery.”

Topics for The Lottery Character Analysis Essay

  1. Tessie Hutchinson’s transformation throughout “The Lottery.”
  2. Old Man Warner: analyzing the role of tradition and fear in shaping his character.
  3. Mr. Summers: examining the character’s influence and authority within the lottery process.
  4. Understanding Bill Hutchinson’s motives and actions in relation to the lottery.
  5. Mrs. Delacroix: analyzing her participation and reaction in the lottery drawing.
  6. The impact of the lottery on children in the story.
  7. Mr. Graves’s role as the lottery official and his attitude toward the event.
  8. Mrs. Adams’s perspective and relationship with the lottery tradition.
  9. The motivations and decision-making process of the Lottery Committee.
  10. The Villagers: analyzing the collective mindset and conformity of the community.
  11. Old Man Warner’s Grandchildren: the potential impact of the lottery on future generations.
  12. Comparing and contrasting the characters’ reactions to the lottery.
  13. The portrayal of female characters in “The Lottery” and their role in perpetuating the violence.
  14. Gender roles and dynamics portrayed in the characters of “The Lottery.”
  15. The symbolism associated with each character in “The Lottery.”
  16. The characters’ moral and ethical dilemmas concerning the lottery.
  17. The characters’ motivations for upholding or questioning the lottery tradition.
  18. The impact of social pressure and conformity on the characters’ actions in the lottery.
  19. Analyzing the characters’ perspectives on sacrifice in “The Lottery.”
  20. Critiquing the absence of empathy and compassion in the characters of “The Lottery.”

The Lottery Literary Analysis Essay: Topics

  1. The use of symbolism in shaping the characters and themes in “The Lottery.”
  2. Exploring dramatic irony in the character interactions of “The Lottery.”
  3. “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson: literary analysis.
  4. The role of foreshadowing in developing suspense and tension in the story.
  5. The use of setting to enhance the atmosphere and mood in “The Lottery.”
  6. The significance of the black box as a central literary device in the story.
  7. The use of irony in the characterizations and actions of the villagers.
  8. Allegory in “The Lottery” and its impact on the interpretation of the characters.
  9. The use of repetition and ritualistic language in the lottery process and its effect on the characters.
  10. The contrast between appearance and reality through literary devices in “The Lottery.”
  11. The role of allusion in deepening the meaning and implications of the characters’ actions.
  12. The use of suspense and pacing to engage readers and heighten the character development.
  13. Situational irony in the characters’ acceptance and participation in the lottery.
  14. Symbolism of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.”
  15. Dialogue as a literary device revealing the characters’ attitudes and beliefs in “The Lottery.”
  16. The use of metaphor and simile in describing characters and their actions in “The Lottery.”
  17. The impact of point of view as a narrative device in “The Lottery.”
  18. The role of satire and irony in critiquing societal norms and the characters’ adherence to them in “The Lottery.”
  19. The use of ambiguity and uncertainty in shaping the readers’ perceptions of the characters.
  20. Irony and paradox in the characters’ motivations and decision-making.
  21. The role of personification in “The Lottery.”
  22. Cliffhangers and unresolved situations as the means of suspense in “The Lottery.”

💡 Topics for The Lottery Argumentative Essay

  1. The portrayal of blind conformity in “The Lottery” as a critique of societal norms.
  2. “The Lottery” as a powerful allegory for the dangers of tradition and ritualistic behavior.
  3. The role of the black box in “The Lottery” as a symbol of oppression and control.
  4. Critiquing the role of the individual in “The Lottery” and the consequences of collective action.
  5. “The Lottery” as a commentary on the dangers of mob mentality and groupthink.
  6. The lottery as an instrument of social control and manipulation in “The Lottery”.
  7. Suspense and tension in “The Lottery” provoke thought and discussion.
  8. The representation of sacrifice and its ethical implications in “The Lottery.”
  9. The lottery as a reflection of the dark side of human nature in “The Lottery”.
  10. The consequences of blindly upholding tradition and its relevance in “The Lottery.”
  11. The theme of social inequality and discrimination in “The Lottery.”
  12. The role of fear in perpetuating the lottery tradition in “The Lottery.”
  13. Arguments for the abolishment of the lottery in the story.
  14. The lottery as a representation of the human capacity for cruelty and violence.
  15. The manipulation of fear and the maintenance of control in “The Lottery.”
  16. The lottery as a reflection of societal values and priorities in “The Lottery”.
  17. The lottery as a tool for social cohesion and unity in “The Lottery”.
  18. The portrayal of dehumanization and the loss of individuality in “The Lottery.”
  19. Critiquing the role of randomness and chance in the lottery drawing in the story.
  20. The lottery as a symbol of fatalistic thinking and resignation to one’s fate.
  21. The role of tradition in “The Lottery” and its resistance to change and progress.
  22. Critically analyzing the villagers’ belief in the lottery and its justification.
  23. The lottery as a reflection of the human desire for control and dominance.
  24. The characters’ absence of agency and free will in “The Lottery.”
  25. Critiquing the portrayal of community and its values in “The Lottery.”
  26. The lottery as a commentary on the dangers of following traditions without questioning.
  27. The portrayal of surprise and shock in “The Lottery” and its effects on the characters.
  28. Lessons about collective responsibility and guilt learned from “The Lottery.”
  29. The lottery as a reflection of the human tendency to participate in harmful practices.
  30. The portrayal of sanity and madness in “The Lottery.”
  31. Critically analyzing the representation of violence and its consequences in “The Lottery.”
  32. The lottery as a metaphor for the injustices and cruelties in the real world.
  33. Individual responsibility in a deterministic society as portrayed in “The Lottery.”
  34. The relevance and significance of “The Lottery” in contemporary society.
  35. The transformation of Bill Hutchinson’s character from a passive bystander to a victim.

❓ The Lottery Essay Questions

  1. How does “The Lottery” satirically critique blind adherence to tradition?
  2. What role does symbolism play in “The Lottery,” and how does it enhance the story’s meaning?
  3. Is the lottery ritual in the story a representation of mob mentality, and if so, how?
  4. Does “The Lottery” effectively challenge the concept of a just and fair society?
  5. How does Shirley Jackson use foreshadowing to build suspense in “The Lottery”?
  6. What is the meaning of recurring references to food and feasting in the story?
  7. Is there any significance to the selection of Tessie Hutchinson as the sacrifice in “The Lottery”?
  8. In what ways does “The Lottery” explore the theme of conformity and its dangers?
  9. Is the violence depicted in “The Lottery” necessary for the story’s impact, or could it have been portrayed differently?
  10. What does the ending of “The Lottery” suggest about the human capacity for cruelty?
  11. How does Shirley Jackson use irony to convey her message in “The Lottery”?
  12. Is there any redeeming value to the lottery tradition portrayed in the story, or is it solely a negative portrayal?
  13. Who can be the real audience of “The Lottery,” and how does it affect the understanding of the story?
  14. Why does no one in the town openly resist the lottery?
  15. Is “The Lottery” primarily a critique of societal norms or a commentary on human nature?
  16. What commentary does “The Lottery” make about the arbitrary nature of violence in society?
  17. Are there any sympathetic characters in “The Lottery,” or are they all complicit in the violent tradition?
  18. What does “The Lottery” suggest about the cyclical nature of violence and oppression?
  19. Does “The Lottery” serve as a critique of organized religion and its potential for harm?
  20. How does the public nature of the lottery in the story influence the characters’ participation?
  21. Is there any significance to the fact that the lottery tradition has been passed down through generations?
  22. How does “The Lottery” challenge the notion of the inherent goodness of human beings?
  23. Is “The Lottery” a commentary on the dehumanizing effects of a strict social hierarchy?
  24. What is the significance of the date and time of year the lottery takes place in the story?
  25. How does the fear of punishment influence the characters’ obedience to the lottery tradition?
  26. Do the characters in “The Lottery” have any agency in their participation, or are they merely victims of tradition?
  27. Is “The Lottery” an effective critique of the concept of luck and chance in society?
  28. How does the portrayal of children in “The Lottery” contribute to the story’s tone and message?
  29. What role do the women in “The Lottery” play in upholding the tradition and perpetuating the violence?
  30. Is there a deeper meaning to the significance of the stones as the chosen method of execution in “The Lottery”?
  31. What is the purpose and impact of the seemingly banal conversations and interactions among the characters in the story?
  32. Does “The Lottery” explore the theme of sacrifice and its relevance to societal structures?
  33. How does the use of a small-town setting in “The Lottery” contribute to the story’s overall impact?
  34. Does “The Lottery” suggest that violence and oppression are inherent in human nature, or are they products of societal structures?
  35. How does the character of Tessie Hutchinson challenge or conform to societal expectations in “The Lottery”?
  36. Does “The Lottery” critique the role of gender in enforcing and perpetuating harmful societal traditions?
  37. In what ways does “The Lottery” comment on the dangers of passivity and indifference in the face of injustice?
  38. How does the portrayal of the lottery tradition in “The Lottery” relate to real-world rituals and customs?
  39. How do the names of the characters, such as Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves, contribute to the story’s themes and symbolism?
  40. Why did Jackson decide not to include details about the lottery’s origin and purpose?

✔️ Bonus Essay Topics for The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

  1. The psychological impact of the lottery on the villagers in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.”
  2. The historical context of “The Lottery” and its relevance today.
  3. The paradoxical nature of community in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.”
  4. The significance of Shirley Jackson’s legacy and her impact on modern horror literature through “The Lottery.”
  5. The significance of the title “The Lottery” and its connection to fate.
  6. The use of suspense and surprise endings in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.”
  7. Shirley Jackson’s personal experiences and how they influenced “The Lottery.”
  8. The role of tradition in shaping societal norms in “The Lottery” and its relevance today.
  9. The significance of the date June 27th in “The Lottery.”
  10. The portrayal of mental illness in “The Lottery” and its societal implications.
  11. The role of education in challenging societal norms in “The Lottery.”
  12. The portrayal of masculinity in “The Lottery” and its connection to power dynamics.
  13. Shirley Jackson’s legacy and influence on modern literature.
  14. The impact of “The Lottery” on the literary world and its reception at the time of publication.
  15. The controversy surrounding “The Lottery” and its banning in certain schools and communities.
  16. The portrayal of the elderly in “The Lottery” and their societal marginalization.
  17. The theme of sacrifice and its connection to the American Dream in “The Lottery.”
  18. The role of tradition and ritual in shaping modern society as explored in “The Lottery”.
  19. The significance of the lottery as a form of entertainment in “The Lottery.”
  20. The relevance of “The Lottery” in contemporary conformity and social pressure discussions.

📋 The Lottery by Shirley Jackson: Essay Outline

Do you want to write an A+ essay about “The Lottery”? We’ve prepared a writing guide to help you with this task.

The Lottery Essay Introduction

Your introduction should grab the reader’s attention. To do so, you’ll need to start with a hook — it is a statement or question that captures the reader’s interest and makes them want to keep reading. Look at the example:

Hook: Imagine living in a small town where the annual tradition is choosing who would be stoned to death. Would you participate in such a ritual or rebel against it?

After that, you should provide some context for the topic. Background information helps the readers understand what the paper will be about. Here’s an example of how it might look:

Background information: First published in 1948, the story shocked readers with its portrayal of a seemingly idyllic community that engages in a horrific act of violence.

The last sentence of the introduction should be your thesis statement.

Thesis Statement for The Lottery

A thesis statement is a claim or argument that addresses the prompt or topic of an essay. It should be concise and debatable and provide a roadmap for the rest of the paper. A good thesis statement should also reflect the writer’s position. This sentence is supposed to guide the reader’s understanding of the essay’s main point.

Consider “The Lottery” thesis statement example:

Thesis statement: “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson uses the brutal ritual of a small town’s annual lottery to criticize the dangers of blindly following tradition and highlight the inherent violence and cruelty thriving beneath seemingly peaceful communities.

Essay on The Lottery: Body Paragraphs

When writing body paragraphs, it’s important to focus on one main idea or argument per paragraph.

Each paragraph should start with a topic sentence. It should state the main point and link the paragraph to the previous one. Here’s an example:

Topic sentence: The use of foreshadowing in “The Lottery” creates a sense of unease and tension throughout the story.

A topic sentence is followed by supporting sentences. Each supporting sentence should provide evidence, examples, or analysis to back up the paragraph’s main idea. Use specific details from the story to support your claims and explain how they relate to your argument. Check out this example:

Supporting evidence: From the opening scene, where the villagers gather in the town square, there are hints of something ominous about to happen. The children are gathering stones, and the adults are murmuring uneasily.

The Lottery Essay Conclusion

The conclusion is the final section of an essay that summarizes the main arguments and closes the discussion. To write a good conclusion, restate the thesis statement and summarize the main points. Here’s an example of how a paraphrased thesis might look:

Restated thesis: Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” describes the violent tradition of an annual lottery in a small town to critique the ones conforming to traditions while also bringing attention to violence and brutality that may exist in places that look quiet at first sight.

To end a text, you should wrap up the discussion and provide closure for the reader. You can do it by offering a final thought, insight, or a call to action.

It’s important to avoid introducing new information or arguments in a conclusion. It can confuse or frustrate your audience. Instead, focus on bringing the discussion to a satisfying and meaningful end that leaves a lasting impression.

We hope our list of topics and writing guide have been helpful. You can also try our online topic generator to always have fresh ideas for your paper.

🔗 References

  1. The Lottery: Themes | SparkNotes
  2. Reading and Discussion Questions on Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” | Washington State University
  3. Study Guide to Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” | Kansas State University
  4. The Lottery Themes | Shmoop
  5. Analysis of “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson | ThoughtCo
  6. “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson | University of Hawaii
  7. The Lottery Themes | eNotes
  8. The Symbolism of Jackson’s “The Lottery” Explained | Interesting Literature
  9. The Normalization of Violence in “The Lottery” | The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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