The Tell Tale Heart and The Lottery: Two short stories with heavy literary technique

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Two stories that are heavy in literary technique are “Tell Tale Heart,” by Edgar Allen Poe and “The Lottery,” by Shirley Jackson. These short stories were written exactly 105 years apart; Poe’s short story was written in 1843 while Jackson’s was written in 1948. “Tell Tale Heart,” Poe develops the plot and creates a mood through symbolism and imagery. Edgar Allan Poe has a unique way of writing as he uses very dark language and he provides an eery type feeling for the reader. Poe uses very descriptive language to allow the reader to perceive different aspects of the story on their own. Similarly, Jackson’s primary reasoning behind writing “The Lottery,” was to darkly express how humanity follows traditions and acts ignorant to the rationality behind that tradition. Poe’s short story doesn’t entail actual pictures, however, the pictures are vividly visualized in one’s own imagination while Poe incorporates imagery to define the mood of the story. The short story, “The Lottery,” by Shirley Jackson makes use of several literary techniques, but the one that really holds emphasis in the story is symbolism. Shirley Jackson uses symbolism to show relevance behind numbers, names and objects in the story.

Symbolism in “Tell Tale Heart,” exists through two different symbols that speak so much to the narrators thought and feeling. The eye and the heart are symbols that align the narrator’s relationship to the old man. The eye represented awareness in terms of being able to see and perception in terms being able to think based up upon what you see. In the story the narrator said that the old man’s eye was, “ A vulture’s eye, whenever it fell upon me my blood ran cold,” which would symbolically associate the old man’s eye with death because vultures are associates of death along with the feeling the narrator felt. At the very same time, the heart symbolically represents emotion and feeling in the story. The two strongest feelings, perception and emotion placed the narrator in an internal struggle between thought and sentiment. Because of this internal struggle the narrator found himself able to understand the rationality and feeling behind why he has to kill this old man which leads to the technique of imagery. The old man’s pale blue eye is the focus of The Tell-Tale Heart as every night that the man didn’t open his eye he was alive but the one night that he woke up and that blue eye was examined by the narrator something came over him to have to kill the man.

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The Lottery also uses symbolism as a focal point behind conveying the message that Shirley Jackson is trying to send. Everything in the story is symbolically represented with some specific reason as to why it is important. The lottery itself is a major symbol as it has become a tradition that happens every year in this particular village even though others have stopped but a relevant character Old Man Warner believes it should continue. The lottery represents pointless traditions society has and follows just because it has always been done so we should still do it even though its foolish. The black box that is battered is representative of death because whatever name that is picked is killed and it has no good reasoning behind it except for death. The black box seems so meaningless because of its rugged shape and condition but it presents society as a community that will keep something around even though it is overused and worn out. The battered black box serves as a metaphor for death and the lottery in terms of how it needs to be done and exempt from a societal norm. The last symbolic object are the stones. Stones were used in human earlier stages as tools to create other tools but they were also used to kill and smash things. The use of stones in the story are the presentation of this community going back to earth’s earliest inhabitants and traditionally stoning people as a way to kill someone in a treacherous way. Symbolism is a common technique used in The Lottery, however, the deeper meaning is written in between the lines.

Literary techniques of all sort used by authors provides context to the content that the reader is reading. The Lottery and Tell Tale Heart were both short stories that contained a heart amount of symbolism behind objects that would seem so pointless, but these objects held so much meaning. Without literary technique in short stories or literature in general reading would be difficult to understand and it would be hard to interpret the sentiment or lessons behind the literature.

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The Tell Tale Heart and The Lottery: Two short stories with heavy literary technique. (2021, Oct 22). Retrieved from

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