Condemnation & Violence in Jackson’s “The Lottery”


The concept of capital punishment is a highly controversial and widely discussed subject. The article discusses the topics of atavism, arbitrary condemnation, and sanctioned violence. The author makes an attempt to argue that capital punishment can be abused in someone’s interest because the victim will no longer have a chance to prove that he or she was innocent. Thus, the idea of the death penalty is a barbaric and uncivilized practice, which should be used only in rare cases or be avoided at all.

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The given article tries to explain and argue that the concept of capital punishment on a lottery basis is dangerous. The main reason is that it can be used mistakenly or someone’s interest to fully eliminate an individual. The author argues that the practice is associated with arbitrary condemnation, which justifies or even promotes sanctioned violence (Shields 411). In addition, the given concepts are tightly linked with the process of scapegoating and ritual cleansing, because a person is not able to prove that he or she is innocent after being sentenced to capital punishment. Therefore, some parties can use the flaws of the justice system, which possesses capital punishment, to eradicate some people by framing or false accusations (Shields 415). The active practice of these ideas makes society more barbaric because it embraces the atavistic practice of savagery.


In conclusion, it highly important to note that the author’s main point is to discuss and analyze the concept of capital punishment and how it would work in a society, which actively practices it on a lottery basis. It can lead to the availability of scapegoating, arbitrary condemnation, and ritual cleansing, where the death penalty becomes somewhat a show. Thus, the author makes clear that the idea of capital punishment requires a highly functional justice system, which is not present today.

Work Cited

Shields, Patrick J. “Arbitrary Condemnation and Sanctioned Violence in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery””. Contemporary Justice Review, vol. 7, no. 4, 2004, pp. 411-419.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Condemnation & Violence in Jackson’s “The Lottery”'. 7 June.

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