Both “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson and “The Landlady” by Roald Dahl, relay the message to readers that perceptions and expectations developed from the events in the world could turn out to be a completely diverted reality. Both stories end in unexpected plot twists that bring a great wave of shock to readers. The atmosphere in the beginning of both stories showcase a positive atmosphere that can immediately turn dark once the security blanket is taken off. Though the world is filled with tons of people living their routinely lives, there are always several in their masks who can deceive perspectives of their character and capabilities.
As one begins reading “The Lottery,” the town is depicted as any other normal town, running an event for the community on a pleasant summer day. This event is a lottery, which occurs annually. Generally, when readers think of a lottery, it gives the assumption that there will be a winner who will receive a grand prize. But when it comes to this town in particular, that is not the case. To set the scene, the text states that, “The people of the village began to gather in the square… around ten o’clock; in some towns there were so many people that the lottery took two days and had to be started on June 20th, but in this village, where there were only about three hundred people” (Jackson, 1). By stating that there were an estimated amount of three hundred people present in this community, it lets readers to infer that these townspeople have a tight-knit relationship and that this lottery was very special and highly anticipated among them. This all changes as the narrative progresses. What was once a clear bright sunny day image in our minds all of a sudden turns muggy and dismal. To further explain, the story goes on stating that, “Soon the men began to gather, surveying their own children, speaking of planting and rain, tractors and taxes. They stood together, away from the pile of stones in the corner, and their jokes were quiet and they smiled rather than laughed.” (Jackson, 1). This quote entails how the environment of the whole village gathering together for the lottery turns out to be very tense based on how they steer away from the stones as much as possible.
This implication that the stones mean harm demonstrates Jackson’s usage of foreshadowing. The townspeople seem to know what will happen, yet they act as if everything is just the way it should be. One begins to realize that the lottery is not a laughing matter. Granted that this drawing fixture is going rather smoothly, the ironic undertone that Jackson puts forward reveals to readers that this lottery is not all fun and games, but alternatively, it is a game of life or death. To end this analysis, the story declares that Tessie Hutchinson has “won” the lottery. Unfortunately, she must encounter the face of death, “Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box, they still remembered to use stones… ‘It isn’t fair, it isn’t right,’ Mrs. Hutchinson screamed, and then they were upon her.” (Jackson, 7) Readers are hit by an epidemic of sympathy towards Hutchinson for her fate. This gives the rest of the townspeople room for judgement by readers. The inhumane and barbarous actions that were intended from the beginning of the story displays how this town had a lack of common sense for this death ritual, considering that all ages were exposed to this practice, the lottery was clearly just another day for many. One can manifest from “The Lottery” that the whole story must be read before giving proper judgement towards it.
When reading the beginning of “The Landlady,” seventeen year old Billy Weaver is welcomed by a compassionate and charitable lady into her motel. One would think that these two characters would develop a mutual relationship during the stay. Though this idea is presented throughout the course of the story, the tone and mood of what the story originally was, is shifted as the story continues. As delivered in Weaver’s perspective, the story expresses that the lady, “…seemed terribly nice. She looked exactly like the mother of one’s best school friend welcoming one into the house to stay for the Christmas holidays” (Dahl, L. 161-164). Dahl’s usage of imagery in this description of the lady acknowledges Weaver’s belief that he will truly divulge in the comfort of the motel and the presence of the lady’s kindheartedness. The term “terribly nice” also sets an example as an oxymoron which emphasizes the positive outlook Weaver had on the lady. As the story advances, things begin to get unsettling due to the lady’s uncouth actions towards Weaver. When they both were drinking tea at the living room, the lady’s true character starts to hint at readers. The text illustrates that, “For half a minute or so, neither of them spoke. But Billy knew that she was looking at him. Her body was half-turned towards him, and he could feel her eyes resting on his face, watching him over the rim of her teacup” (Dahl, L. 397). The silence in the room was broken in a way when she stared at him for the longest time. Readers start to realize the lady’s creepy vibe and can suspect that she may not be innocent at the slightest. After reading the entirety of “The Landlady,” it opens up one’s eyes to the corrupt lifestyle that can be present in the midst of the morality one thought they were surrounded by.
The common saying that “everything is not always what it seems” is a simple and memorable reminder that must be applied in one’s life. This applies to making friends, trusting a stranger and countless other scenarios that can be stumbled upon. From the evidence gathered after reading both “The Lottery” and “The Landlady,” it can be concluded that plot twists enter the nonfiction and fictional worlds in diverse ways. There is always a probability that one’s perspective or impression of someone can turn out to be completely different. Coming to light of the main issues occuring around the world is like entering an event of a masquerade, daily. There are always shadows casted that coats over the true darkness within. No one truly knows the level of authenticity brought upon them. It is not commutative at anyone’s convenience. Right at this moment, one can be laying their loyalty upon someone untrustworthy and dishonest. Unfortunately, in the real world, it sometimes is too late to know the danger that has overtaken one’s life. Therefore, this explains the brutal deaths the characters encounter whilst having no clue that they are carressing their disastrous fates in the end.