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The Possibility of Evil - Analysis

The Possibility of Evil

Sharon Nam

on 28 February 2014

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Transcript of The Possibility of Evil - Analysis

Takes place on Pleasant Street on a sunny day.
Miss Strangeworth’s house has a garden of roses.
This story most likely took place around the 1950's. There’s a friendly atmosphere, but it was also quite mysterious.
Miss Strangeworth walks to the grocery store and has seemingly friendly chats with the other citizens of the town.
Initial Incident
After retrieving some information from her conversations, she went home and started to write anonymous, harsh letters to Don Crane, Mrs. Harper, and Mrs. Foster. These letters contained secrets about each of their lives.
Rising Action
As it was getting dark, she sneakily made her way to the post office to deliver the letters. She heard Harris and Linda chatting in the shadows, and decided to eavesdrop on their conversation.
Not being careful, Miss Strangeworth dropped one of her letters on the ground.
Harrison and Linda come across the letter on the ground addressed to Don Crane. Harris tried to return it by calling Miss Strangeworth’s name, but decided to deliver it instead, to help Miss Strangeworth.
Falling Action
Miss Strangeworth received a letter. It was one of her own letters that had been returned to her.
The letter that was returned was previously addressed to Don Crane. It read, “Look out at what used to be your roses.”
She looked out to see that her roses were destroyed.
The Possibility of Evil
Shirley Jackson

Hien Tran, Sharon Nam, Gabby Campos, Diana Dona, Samentha Maraweera & Christie Wong
Foreshadowing starts with the title of the story. It makes the reader assume there is going to be some sort of evil in the story.
The main character’s name is also a form of foreshadowing.
When Miss Strangeworth drops the letter and Harrison picks it up, it can foreshadow that people are going to find out who has sent the anonymous letters around town.
In this short story, suspense is built through foreshadowing.
There is much suspense when Miss Strangeworth drops the letter. This can lead us to believe that something negative may happen.

Man Vs Self
Miss Strangeworth risked her reputation as the innocent, sweet lady. If she were to be found out, the citizens would lose respect for her and perhaps seek revenge. Unfortunately for her, revenge was sought out by means of having her roses destroyed.
Man Vs Society
Miss Strangeworth sees herself as “the one” who keeps the town clean. She believes that she lives in a society where there is evil. She thinks it’s her job to warn others, to keep evil from spreading. Thus, she sends anonymous letters, trying to warn people of certain things.
The main character in this short story.
Round and static character.
We know a lot about her through direct and indirect characterization.
She is a very realistic character.
She seems like a sweet lady, but she is actually a very cold-hearted person.
78 years old and she knew everyone in town.
The name “Strangeworth” can demonstrate that the character is unordinary.
She felt that she had some sort of superiority over the people in town. She saw herself as high and mighty.
1) Things are not always as they seem/looks can
be deceiving
2) There is a bad moral to every good moral/ Sometimes
with good intentions come evil acts
3) Pride
The theme statement for this short story is; things are not always as they seem.
Miss Strangeworth looked like a innocent lady and everyone in town loved her, but looks can be deceiving.
Underneath all the sweet mask however, was a dark secret.
The setting also supports the theme

Author Biography
Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson was born on December 14, 1919 in San Francisco.
Jackson grew up in Burlingame, California and later moved East with her family
After a year, Jackson attended Syracuse University and received her bachelors degree.
She met her husband while working on the school newspaper and they had 4 kids together.
The story that made Jackson the centre of attention was “The Lottery” which was published in 1948 in The New Yorker.
She died at the age of 49 from heart failure. After her death, her husband published many of her novels, including The Possibility of Evil.
Jackson is known as a successful writer of her time, received many awards such as “One of Time’s Ten Best Novels of 1962.”

The story presumably occurs in the 1950s

The story takes places in a small town
Despite the friendly atmosphere of the town, at the same time, anxiety, tension and suspense fill the air.

Symbols and Motifs

When the roses were cut it was as if you were looking beyond the rose’s beauty and seeing it for its thorns (its flaws).
They are related to Ms. Strangeworth’s personality since her outside demeanor can be compared to the beauty of the roses while her thoughts and ways of thinking could be compared to the thorns.
As well, the roses symbolize her family lineage and ancestry. The roses has been tended to by the women in her family for generations. They can be seen as a sort of legacy
Ms. Strangeworth’s house - beautiful and serene but unpredictably evil on the inside since that is where all the rumors and gossip are written on the letters.
“Pleasant Street” - The tourists would see the town as “pleasant” especially after meeting Ms. Strangeworth and her beautiful roses but as we can see from Ms. Strangeworth’s perspective that the town is more than what it appears to be.
The name of the main character tends to be quite ironic since the word strange suggests something unusual and the word worth is defined as good or important enough to justify.
Point of View
This short story is written in third person, omniscient
Full transcript