The lottery is a form of gambling where players pay to enter a draw with the aim of winning a prize. The prizes in lotteries are typically money or goods. The idea of giving away a prize in this way is a long-standing one, dating back to the ancient world. Lotteries have also been used as a method of raising funds for public works, such as the construction of town fortifications or aiding the poor. The first European lotteries in the modern sense of the word emerged in the fifteenth century, when towns began holding them to raise funds for wars and for local charity. In England, Queen Elizabeth I chartered the nation’s first lotto in 1567 and designated its profits for “reparation of the Havens and strength of the Realme.”
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, lottery play became increasingly popular in America as states adopted it to meet their budgetary needs. Lottery revenues climbed steadily, and states began to offer bigger and more elaborate jackpots, which fueled the growth of the industry. By the late twentieth century, lottery sales accounted for almost sixty per cent of all state-government revenue.
Yet despite the enormous popularity of lottery games, they aren’t without their critics. Many of the same concerns that plague other addictive products—including cigarettes and video games—apply to lotteries. Like those other products, lottery tickets are often cheap and highly addictive. They also tend to be marketed in ways that encourage addiction, and the math behind the odds is designed to keep people buying tickets.
Moreover, lottery participants often feel compelled to spend more than they can afford to win, even though they know the odds of winning are slim. This is particularly true when it comes to the big jackpots offered by Powerball and Mega Millions, which can be as high as a billion dollars. The high costs and addictive nature of the lottery mean that it’s no surprise that some people who win large sums find themselves worse off than before.
Jackson uses characterization methods to emphasize the deceitful and corrupt character of the villagers in his story, “Lottery.” His setting also suggests that human evilness is present in the villagers, as shown by their behavior toward each other throughout the story. They greet each other informally and exchange gossip, while handling each other with cruelty and hypocrisy. In fact, the villagers don’t seem to realize how wicked they are until it’s too late. In the end, it’s a tragic reminder that the world is full of cruel and deceitful people. This is what makes Jackson’s story so terrifying and relevant today.