Lottery is a form of gambling where people purchase tickets for a chance to win a prize. The prizes can be cash, goods, services or even other people. In modern times, lottery is used in a variety of situations, including filling a sports team among equally competing players, school or university placements and more. This process is often considered a fair way to make choices because everyone has the same opportunity to win, even though the odds are very low.
In the seventeenth century, it was quite common for the Dutch to organize lotteries in order to collect money for the poor or raise funds for a wide range of public usages. These lotteries were hailed as a painless form of taxation. The word “lottery” derives from the Dutch noun lot (“fate”) and is a calque of Middle French loterie, which in turn is a calque on Latin loteria, meaning the action of drawing lots.
The first thing that you should note about this story is that it takes place in a small community of people that are very close to one another. The characters are very well known to the reader, and the setting is one that has been characterized by a sense of family loyalty and an absence of violence. The events in the story reflect these traits and are, thus, very unsettling to the reader.
The story begins in the town square, where the villagers are gathered to participate in the lottery. The participants are very happy, chatting with one another and exchanging gossip. This scene is a stark contrast to the events that are to come, and it is in this juxtaposition that Shirley Jackson shows the reader the deceitfulness of human nature. The fact that these bad things are done in such a normal setting is what makes them all the more difficult to accept.
When the lottery was introduced in America, it was a popular source of funding for both private and public ventures. In addition to financing roads, libraries and churches, it also helped to finance the settlement of the continent. Harvard, Yale and Princeton were all financed in this manner. It also helped to fund the Continental Congress during the Revolutionary War.
Although there were a number of problems with the lottery, it proved remarkably successful in raising money. The aversion to taxation in colonial America made it a particularly appealing alternative. The fact that the prizes were so generous added to their appeal.
The wealthy do play the lottery, of course; but they typically buy fewer tickets than the poor, and their purchases represent a smaller percentage of their incomes. According to Bankrate, those earning more than fifty thousand dollars per year spend on average one percent of their incomes on tickets; those making less than thirty thousand per year spend thirteen percent. This discrepancy suggests that the poor are more likely to be tempted by large jackpots than are those in the upper classes.