“The Birthmark” by Nathaniel Hawhtorne
Interesting, however instructive. The sort of thing that would be tough to get away with in modern times. Well-constructed, varied, yet formal sentences that make for a smooth and engaging read. As for the meaning, it is summed up by the last line: “The momentary circumstance was too strong for him; he failed to look beyond the shadowy scope of time, and living once for all eternity, to find the perfect future in the present.”
“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson
The fact that we don’t know for sure until the end of the story is what makes this story so good. These townspeople seem pretty normal, but then there’s this feeling throughout the story that there’s something not quite right, and then the bottom falls out. The reader is shocked and provoked because the implication is that a person will go along with just about anything if they are conditioned by social tradition and expectation. Sadly, there’s truth in that.
“Go And Catch A Falling Star” by John Donne
Oh, please. Women are coming into their own, but it’s men who try to insure the continuance of their genetic substance through playing the odds. Perhaps in Donne’s time things were different because women were oppressed and not encouraged to love, but to learn to love the men who were picked for them. That must have been hard to fake. Go and catch a falling star? You whiny poet penis. Was this your excuse for celibacy or buggery? Had you ever even loved a woman?