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The Possibility of Evil
Transcript of The Possibility of Evil
By Shirley Jackson
The conflict in this story is Person vs. Society because no one intentionally did anything to Miss Strangeworth to cause her to write the nasty letters, she was just overly affected by normal things people did. She wanted to feel a sense of superiority to others so she made them overly conscious of little flaws they had. It was the society she was against. She believed she was "protecting" everyone from evil in the town, when really, she was the one creating it.
The effects of a two faced person.
One person can make a mark on an entire community.
You may think you are doing someone a good deed, when it could be a disservice in their eyes.
She thinks of herself as the "owner" of the town since her family had lived there for generations. Feels superior to others.
Portrayed as a sweet old lady, when she is really rude and judgemental
70 year old woman who wears hats and knitted shirts
Miss Strangeworth does not go through a dramatic change in the story.
All though she could have changed prior to receiving the letter about her roses being ruined.
We know first hand Miss Strangeworth is a cruel-minded, meticulous person because the narrator is herself, so we can see what she is thinking.
The antagonist is society because it is Miss Strangeworth's thoughts against everyone's seemingly happy lives. Nothing anyone can do will please her judgemental mind. She constantly has the feel superior to everyone else, making society the antagonist of this short story.
Mr Lewis: flat and static character
A nice, friendly man who become quiet after receiving Miss Strangeworth's nasty letters
Mrs. Harper: flat and static character
Effected by the letters so she did not want to talk as much. Probably very happy before opening the letters everyone was getting.
Dave: flat and static character
A kind, considerate boy (we can infer this by him offering the deliver the letter to who it was addressed to). He accidentally exposed Miss Strangeworth, telling the recipient who the letter was from.
No longer allowed to date his girlfriend because of the horrible letter Miss Strangeworth sent to her parents about him.
Setting: Pleasant Street
Miss Strangeworth walks around her town and greets everyone she sees. She then goes to the store and speaks with Mr. Lewis and disapproves of a couples parenting
Miss Strangeworth reveals her inner disgust for the problems of others and her "obligation" to personally resolve them
Miss Strangeworth begins to write her latest in advice letters to the townspeople. Miss Strangeworth goes to secretly mail her rude letters at the post office after hours.
Miss Strangeworth dropped one of her letters, which she does not notice, and Dave Harris decides to hand deliver it to the family. He unknowingly tells them who it was from.
Miss Strangeworth goes to bed happy she "helped" her community. She wakes up feeling a little extra peaceful and content with things on Pleasant Street.
Now that people know who has been sending the awful letters, they decide it's Miss Strangeworths turn to get a taste of her own medicine. The destroy her prized roses and send her a letter telling her, similar to the ones she sent to others.
Miss Strangeworth Believes she is doing a good deed by sending people the letters saying "the truth".
She thinks it is eliminating the evil in the town when it is really causing it. (pg. 169)
Point of View: Third person limited
We can see into Miss Strangeworth's thoughts but not anyone else.
She does not believe she is doing anything wrong.
All the people in the town were acting differently because of Miss Strangeworth's letters. (pg. 166)
When Miss Strangeworth gets the letter saying to look outside at her roses, they are destroyed. (pg.175)