Robert Browning vs Shirley Jackson

My understanding of the short story The Lottery by Shirley Jackson has been greatly enriched by my reading of the two other texts; My Last Duchess, a poem by Robert Browning and A Streetcar Named Desire, a play by Tennessee Williams. By comparing the three texts I could see how Shirley Jackson uses narrative conventions to present strong ideas about gender roles. Reinforced by the other texts, the issue of the repression of women and what happens to them when they defy the norms dictated by their society is an issue raised in all three texts. All three texts use the narrative convention of fate to highlight how women are treated in patriarchal societies as unjust and unfair. A Streetcar Named Desire and The Lottery use the narrative convention of paired characters and their interactions to demonstrate the male dominance over women present in the texts. Both texts are set in post-world war II United States which was a time of highly patriarchal societies. My Last Duchess uses symbolism to reinforce the idea of women as objects and the ‘carnal sin’ of a woman who has multiple sexual interactions. This is an idea that permeates the play A Streetcar Named Desire and is alluded to in The Lottery. The texts A Streetcar Named Desire and My Last Duchess have both greatly enriched my feminist reading of The Lottery through their use of conventions and symbolism.

The institutionalisation of women as inferior to men can be dated back to the arrival of agriculture in human society. The concept today is still more present in rural and agrarian settings such as that in the text The Lottery. The origin of women being inferior to men was with agricultural work, replacing the foraging or hunting that each gender specialised in, agricultural work relied more on strength, hard labour that men are genetically more predisposed to than women. Shirley Jackson, the author of the text The Lottery is one based in a post-world war II setting of rural United States.