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Essays on Jackson’s Lottery: Dangers of Blind Obedience Exposed

Dangers of Blind Obedience Exposed in The Lottery

Most of us obey every day without a thought. People follow company dress code, state and federal laws and the assumed rules of courtesy. Those who do disobey are usually frowned upon or possibly even reprimanded. But has it even occurred to you that in some cases, disobedience may be the better course to choose? In her speech “Group Minds,” Doris Lessing discusses these dangers of obedience, which are demonstrated in Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery.”

In “The Lottery,” the villagers portray Lessing’s observation that “it is the hardest thing in the world to maintain an individual dissident opinion, as a member of a group” (334). The villagers also show, in a rather dramatic fashion, how being a blind follower of a group can be dangerous. As Lessing points out “the majority will continue to insist and after a period of exasperation the minority will fall into line”(334). This very sentiment is an enormous part of the inherent dangers of obeying a group.

The group behavior in “The Lottery” w…

Melville’s White Jacket as Public Forum on Corporal Punishment

Melville’s White Jacket as Public Forum on Corporal Punishment

Author, Herman Melville utilized many of his literary works as a public forum for politics. Subsequently, the nineteenth century became a time period of great outspokenness among authors who condemned many of societies woes. Authors such as: Thoreau, Longfellow and Emerson all voiced their opposition to these tragedies. Melville wrote openly about slavery, abuse, and many other social injustices. In his novel, White Jacket, Melville wrote against corporal punishment aboard United States Naval Frigates. He cited many instances of flogging, imprisoning sailors, and other humiliating procedures endured by navy men at the hands of commanding officers. Unfortunately, corporal punishment was a legal means of punishment as governed by the Articles of War.

Melville interjected a positive feeling into the narrative, White Jacket, by introducing three humanitarians. These included: Mad Jack, Colbrook, and Jack Chase. Each of these characters spoke out against corporal punishment in the narrative; however, the ultimate decision to punish the men remained in the hands of the unforgiving captains at sea. The main character of the novel occurred as White Jacket. Unfortunately, he committed an unwitting offense and was to be subjected to flogging. In his frantic last moments prior to flogging, White Jacket envisioned himself grabbing Captain Claret and flinging them both over the side to the more forgiving sea. Fortunately, humanitarians, Colbrook and Chase, both stepped forward at great risk to themselves and saved White Jacket from humiliation and abuse. White Jacket’s desperate attempt to elude punishment conveyed to society the drastic measures needed to induce change. In the end, it remained obvious that Melville likened the ship to a working model of society. He observed that naval discipline was not compatible with democratic ideology. Author Eleanor Simpson stated in her essay, “Melville and the Negro,” that Melville attacks all forms of arbitrary government and legalized brutality. Though his immediate target is the military machine as codified in the Articles of War, his whole stance is one of democratic rebellion against the law or act of government, which undermines or simply ignores the dignity and rights of men.

Melville stated, “He knows the same law which impels it-the same law by which the culprits of the day must suffer; that by that very law he also is liable at any time to be judged and condemned.

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