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Possibility of Evil By: Shirley Jackson
Transcript of Possibility of Evil By: Shirley Jackson
The text reveals her thoughts and emotions Point of View Atmosphere The short story, The Possibility of Evil by Shirley Jackson shows that evil lurks beneath even the most charming and unexpected exterior. This is illustrated through design elements such as symbols, atmosphere, irony and conflict. Many desire a relationship with a person of good intentions and a pure heart, although, these partnerships never seem to last as one person always brings an ill-fated ending. The story, The Possibility of Evil, discusses the life of Miss Adela Strangeworth
Shes lives on Pleasant Street in a small town where she is well known
Miss Strangeworth’s life revolves around her town which she has grown to love and care for.
Shes strives to maintain strong relationships with the people of her town
Her family name is a legacy well known to the town's people.
She takes deep pleasure in tending the roses her grandfather planted when he built the first house in town.
Further into the story we discover a twist about her seemingly perfect life.
She sent cruel letters to the citizens of her town outlining problems and flaws that she observed and felt obligated to tell them.
One day, a few teenagers noticed that Miss Strangeworth had dropped a note as she was placing it into the mailbox to send to her next victim. As considerate children, they delivered the note to whom it was addressed to and notified him that it was from Miss Strangeworth.
The next morning, Miss Strangeworth found a note addressed to her, which read, “LOOK OUT AT WHAT USED TO BE YOUR ROSES.”
In the end, she was faced with the consequences of her poorly planned actions. Miss Strangeworth is known in her town as a 71-year old, kind-hearted lady who carries on her family's legacy through nurturing her roses. She was well respected and had close relationships to every one of her town. Complication She believed that citizens of her town should obtain the same values and ethics as her. She thought that her standards would create the perfect town. Conflict She chose to write anonymous letters to the people of her town in order for these individuals to better themselves, though she did not realize her negative actions. Rising Action She unknowingly drops one of her letters while innocently placing it in the mailbox. Crisis A group of children noticed that Miss Strangeworth dropped a note. They call after her but it was too late and she was out of reach. Climax The children deliver the note to the individual who it was addressed to. Falling Action People were surely surprised that the note came from the responsible and kind woman, Miss Strageworth. The next morning, Miss Strangeworth wakes up to a note that informs her that someone had destroyed her roses. Irony • Miss Strageworth exclaims to Helen Crane, "Nonsense. All babies are different. Some of them develop much more quickly than others" (Jackson 3)
• Miss Strangeworth directs a note to the Crane family that read, "DIDN'T YOU EVER SEE AN IDIOT CHILD BEFORE? SOME PEOPLE JUST SHOULDN'T HAVE CHILDREN, SHOULD THEY?"( Jackson 5) Setting Symbol Point
•Sometimes you must look beyond a person’s appearance to see what kind of a person they really are
•Never judge something by its outward appearance
•“The sun was shining, the air was fresh and clear after the night's heavy rain, and everything in Miss Strangeworth's little town looked washed and bright.” (Jackson 1)
•At the beginning of the story it is sunny, nice, carefree, beautiful and a friendly town
•It sets the vibe of the story as Miss Strangeworth has a gentle and kind personality
•In the end, it was an act to get to know people better so that she could find their flaws and fix them anonymously
•The roses in the story represent the respect by those around her, when the roses die, the respect by those around her die
•The story takes place in an old-fashioned town
•It’s very clean and well kept
•In the town there is a grocery store, a park, police station, post office and Miss Strangeworth’s house
•The length of the story is placed over the period of two days during the summer-time
•The time period is around the 1950’s because of roller skaters skating around the post office and penny candy
•Penny candy was introduced during the 1950s, as almost all the candies back then were a penny a piece Old Fashioned House Penny Candy-1950's Point:
The main conflict within the story is between character vs. self. Miss Strangeworth struggles on a day-to-day basis to make her life the way she desires.
She has a strong attachment to her town and wishes for everything to be in a well organized manner.
The reality of life is nothing can be absolutely perfect but Miss Strangeworth just doesn't seem to understand this idea.
Like any other human being, the people in her town also have their flaws and Miss Strangeworth feels obligated to make them aware of these through anonymous notes.
Her attempt to eliminate the flaws of others is essentially revealing the imperfections she has within herself.
Her constant struggle to reach perfection is only leading to greater problems arising.
Miss Strangeworth tries to bring peace upon the town with the methods she thinks are most suitable, but in the end, she deals with the consequences of her poorly thought-out actions. THE END Third person - Limited Omniscient Verbal Irony Dramatic Irony • Readers know that Miss Strangeworth is sending the anonymous letters, while the characters (towns people) in the story are unaware. Proof: "When she made a mistake, as she sometimes did, or when the letters were not spaced nicely on the page, she had to take the discarded page to the kitchen stove and burn it at once. Miss Strangeworth never delayed when things had to be done." (Jackson 5) Conflict Analysis:
This quote gives an excellent example of Miss Strangeworth's constant need for perfection.
Not only does she worry about the way her town is functioning but even smaller troubles that would normally not be a concern to others.
Any small mistake is seen as a disturbance to Miss Strangeworth and in her eyes, mistakes are not tolerable.
She will go to whatever extent to correct all the mistakes in her life, even if it involves sending harshly-written anonymous notes to the people of her own town.
You can also characterize Miss Strangeworth as an extremist. When she found an error in her note she had to take it to the oven and burn it as oppose to throwing it out in the trash like an ordinary person would.
Miss Strangeworth struggles to control her actions and has a constant need for everything to live up to her standards.
Point: Roses represent the Strangeworth family legacy as well as the respect and title Miss Strangeworth holds in her town. Proof: "Tourists who sometimes passed through the town and stopped to admire her roses" (Jackson 1).
"My grandmother planted these roses, and my mother tended to them, just as I do" (Jackson 1).
"My grandfather built the first house on Pleasant Street" (Jackson 1).
"She began to cry silently for the wickdness of the world when she read the words: LOOK OUT AT WHAT USED TO BE YOUR ROSES" (Jackson 9). Analysis: Miss Strangeworth carries on the family name by taking care of her roses that is why she is very proud of them. In town her identity is represented by the roses. At the end of the story when her roses are destroyed it demonstrates how her family legacy and identity is destroyed. As in she has brought shame on her family name and lost respect in the eyes of the town's people. Her family legacy has a tremendous impact on the town and that is why she is greatly respected by the citizens of the town. Point: The author chose a rose to represent Miss Strangeworth because roses reflect her character. Proof: "My grandfather built the first house on Pleasant Street, she would say, opening her blue eyes wide with the wonder of it" (Jackson 1). "She was seventy-one, Miss Strangeworth told the tourists, with a pretty little dimple showing by her lip..."(Jackson 1). "I suppose you've got young Don all upset about the fact that his daughter is already six months old and hasn't yet begun to learn to dance?" (Miss Strangeworth to Helen Crane, Jackson 3). "DIDN'T YOU EVER SEE AN IDIOT CHILD BEFORE? SOME PEOPLE JUST SHOULDN'T HAVE CHILDREN SHOULD THEY?" (Miss Strangeworth writing an anonymous letter to Helen Crance, Jackson 5) Analysis: A rose seems fragile and delicate when you look at it however, most people often forget that roses have thorns until they get cut by them. The same way people look at Miss Strangeworth and see an innocent old lady they don’t even look past her appearance in order to make an impression of her in return though they never realize that she is the one sending the letters. Conflict