A lottery is an arrangement by which prizes are allocated to people by a process which depends wholly on chance. Although making decisions and determining fates by casting lots has a long history in human society (there are several examples of it in the Old Testament, and it was used for municipal repairs in Rome under Augustus Caesar), lotteries are relatively recent, first appearing in England in the early 17th century and then spreading to other countries. Since then, they have been a popular source of government revenue and have become widely accepted.
As is clear from this short story, the main theme of the piece is hypocrisy. It depicts the way that people can be so easily deceived by the act of lottery and how it has become a normal practice in their lives. Nevertheless, they fail to see how this act affects their general well-being. Interestingly, the main character of this short story emerges as a victim of lottery the day she was planning to protest and rebel against it, thus retracting her acts of rebellion.
The setting in the story also portrays the repression of human beings. The characters are forced to conform to the laws of the lottery and not speak their minds. Furthermore, the people in this village are forced to follow a strict set of rules that govern how they must conduct themselves in public and private. This is evident in the fact that they all wear masks at the drawing of their numbers, which shows how much they have been influenced by the act.
While the majority of people do not take this seriously, there is a large group of committed gamblers who do not view it as anything but a game. Consequently, they spend a great deal of their income on tickets. Moreover, the fact that state lotteries are run as businesses puts them at cross-purposes with the broader public interest. Advertisements rely heavily on persuading individuals to purchase lottery tickets, and this necessarily involves promoting gambling.
In the past, some states have tried to make the lottery an instrument of good governance and social welfare by ensuring that lottery proceeds go to social services or education. However, the majority of state lotteries are now essentially business enterprises, and their advertising strategies focus on generating profits. This has led to negative consequences for poor people, problem gamblers, and other vulnerable populations.
Moreover, the state’s role in lottery operations has shifted from a public service to an effort to increase tax revenues. This is in part because lotteries are a classic example of public policy being made piecemeal and incrementally, with little or no oversight. As a result, authority and pressures on lottery officials are fragmented and often do not take the general public interest into account. This is a pattern that has been repeated in other forms of state-run gambling.