The stories ‘The Lottery' by Shirley Jackson and ‘The Most Dangerous Game' by Richard Cornell presents variations of plots, characterization, themes, settings, symbols, and motifs which enable story development and ease of understanding. This paper presents comparisons and contrasts of themes and motifs used in the tow stories.
The story ‘The Lottery' by Shirley Jackson is a case where villagers hold an annual lottery where they have to kill one person who selects the slip marked for killing. It is aimed at maintaining the tradition of the village and preventing a return to the barbaric ways. On the other hand, the story ‘The Most Dangerous Game' by Richard Cornell is a case of two travelers along the coast of Rio de Janeiro, who are affected by a storm and one of them, Rainsford falls into the water and decides to move into the dreaded Ship-Trap Island. He encounters the people under the leadership of Zaroff to be mainly involved in hunting activities. However, he learns that Zaroff has opted to change the hunting rules and participates in the human hunt. He attempts to haunt Rainsford but due to the latter's wit, he manages to finally wrestle Zaroff and explains the exciting experience of sleeping on his bed.
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The main character of the story ‘The Lottery' by Shirley Jackson is Tessie Hutchinson who draws the paper with a black dot in it, Old man Warner who is seventy years old and has been involved in the lottery for the period he has lived, Mr. Summers who conducts the lottery, and Bill Hutchinson who is Tessie's husband. In the case of ‘The Most Dangerous Game' by Richard Cornell, the main characters are Rainsford and Zaroff who are involved in the tussle at the Ship-Trap Island, Whitney who was travelling together with Rainsford in the yatch, and Ivan who is Zaroff's assistant and is involved in managing the captives at the Ship-Trap Island.
The setting for ‘The Lottery' by Shirley Jackson is a village composed of 300 inhabitants while the setting for the story ‘The Most Dangerous Game' by Richard Cornell is the coast of Rio-De Janeiro where a yatch travels and leaves Rainsford who swims to a nearby island called Ship-Trap Island.
The comparison of the themes in ‘The Lottery' by Shirley Jackson and those on ‘The Most Dangerous Game' by Richard Cornell is that of death. There is the theme of killings in either case where the villagers in ‘The Lottery' participate in an annual lottery event where they select an individual at random and kill without conviction (Connell, 2008). The same theme occurs in ‘The Most Dangerous Game' where Rashford is involved in the killing of people rather than animals as is the actual way in which it should be done. The contrast in the themes in ‘The Lottery' by Shirley Jackson and ‘The Most Dangerous Game' by Richard Cornell is the ‘Difference in Interpretations of beliefs'. In ‘The Lottery' by Shirley Jackson, the author explains that the villagers had a general belief that anyone who picked the lottery marked for killing is killed without even the intervention of family members. It is a general belief that the selected person has a trait that is beyond the control of the society.
There is also a contrast in other themes such as the theme of Danger of Blindly Following Traditions in ‘The Lottery' by Shirley Jackson where villagers have been conducting an annual lottery to kill one of them. On the contrary, there is the theme of Reason versus Instinct where Rainsford does not believe that killing of people should be considered as hunting while Zaroff maintains his stance on the idea.
There is a contrast in the themes in that in the case of ‘The Lottery' by Shirley Jackson, the theme of Randomness of persecution is common because the villagers kill one of the person at random without considering the innocence of the person who selects the slip with a black dot. In ‘The Most Dangerous Game' by Richard Cornell, there is the theme of The Effects of War where Zaroff has been affected by his participation in the war and has opted to hunt humans rather than animals.
Point of View
The contrast of the points of views of the stories is that the story ‘The Lottery' by Shirley Jackson is presented according to the point of view of Tessie who believes that the practice of the lottery is unfair while the story ‘The Most Dangerous Game' by Richard Cornell is presented according to the point of view of Rainsford who believes that the practice of hunting people by Zaroff is not suitable, and he should focus on animals only.
There is a comparison of the symbols in the ‘The Lottery' by Shirley Jackson and those on ‘The Most Dangerous Game' by Richard Cornell by the use of darkness as a symbol. The use of the black box in ‘The Lottery’, by Shirley Jackson is similar to darkness in ‘The Most Dangerous Game' by Richard Cornell because it illustrates the blindness of the people towards the need to make reasonable decisions. For instance, the villagers use the black box to make a lottery on the person that needs to be killed without the consideration of having committed no offense. The black color of the box is a symbol of the level of blindness in families and in the community towards prevention of unjustified killings on the perception that it is a form of being loyal to the tradition. This is similar to the case of Rainsford and Zaroff in the Ship-Trap Island where the former experiences darkness while conversing with Whitney on the deck of the ship (Griffin, 1999). After falling overboard, Rainsford is unable to know the direction in which he is swimming because of the darkness that surrounds the sea. This results in him swimming in the direction of the gunshots. The Ship-trap Island is also engulfed in darkness as an indication of the foreboding terror and dementia that has led Zaroff to the practice of hunting people.
The contrast in symbols in the two cases is that that in the case of the ‘The Lottery' by Shirley Jackson the black dot in the slip is used to represent the actual beliefs of the villagers that the person who selects the slip should be killed while in the case of ‘The Most Dangerous Game' by Richard Cornell the symbol of darkness has been used in a number of occasions ranging from the need for Zaroff to use reason in the same manner as other humans to the challenges encountered by Rainsford when the yatch wrecks and he has to fight for his survival from the people in the Ship-Trap Island.
Connell, R. (2008). The Most Dangerous Game (1924). Rockville: Arc Manor .
Griffin, A. A. (1999). Jackson's The Lottery. The Explicator , 58 (1), 44-46.