Possibility of Evil by Shirley Jackson Analysis Essay
In Shirley Jackson’s, The Possibility of Evil, Miss Strangeworth believes that she is keeping evil out of her community, but in reality, she is the problem. Miss Strangeworth believes that she is above everyone else in her community because of her family name and ancestry. Miss Strangeworths family name has caused her to have a reputation by the people in town and be very respected. Furthermore, she thinks that everyone has evil in them and feels the need to point out everyone’s flaws and voice her opinion. Even though she thinks everyone is evil she excludes herself from having any flaws and tries to find the evil in other people instead of looking at herself. Miss Strangeworth may have no knowledge or information on a certain subject, but she still judges others and thinks she is helping when she is actually hurting the people in her community. For example, her interaction with Don and Helene Crane and how Miss Strangeworth decided to send a sinister letter to the family regarding her opinions on their daughter. The letter states, “DIDN’T YOU EVER SEE AN IDIOT CHILD BEFORE? SOME PEOPLE JUST SHOULDN’T HAVE CHILDREN, SHOULD THEY?” (Jackson 210). This shows that Miss Strangeworth believes she is helping Crane’s and getting rid of their evil when she is actually putting them down and causing harm to their family. Miss Strangeworth has had no children and has no idea what it is like to raise a child, but she still decided to share her opinion because she believes that she has the right to do so because of her family name and legacy. Miss Strangeworth has turned into a bitter old lady who has nothing better to do than point out the evil in everyone else besides herself. Besides, we see how Miss Strangeworth’s actions affect the people of her community. Miss Strangeworth thinks that it is her duty to tell the town about the possible evil, when she sends out her letters, she believes that this is going to help people but after looking at the text in more depth it shows how her letters are taking a toll on some people’s mental health. For example, Ms. Harper was one of the people who received a letter from Miss Strangeworth regarding a possible affair her husband has taken part in. The letter states, “Have you found out yet what they were all laughing about after you left the bridge club on Thursday? Or is the wife really last to know?” (Jackson 210).
Miss Strangeworth is suggesting that Martha Harper’s husband is having an affair and that everyone knows except for her. Miss Strangeworth believes that she is helping Martha, but she is causing damage to her mental health, this is shown through Miss Strangeworth’s view of Martha when she says that she looks unwell (Jackson 207). Proving that the letters being sent out are damaging people's lives, relationships, and in this case health and wellbeing. As was previously stated Miss Strangeworth believing that society is to blame for evil and not herself. This is the mentality she displays throughout the entire story and will continue to show. Even though Miss Strangeworth has been caught and people recognize her evil she has not recognized it herself it is shown when the narrator states, “She began to cry silently for the wickedness of the world when she read the words: LOOK OUT AT WHAT USED TO BE YOUR ROSES.” (Jackson 214). This is proving that she still blames society and its evil instead of looking at her own actions and how it affects the community. Miss Strangeworth continues to believe that society is evil and everyone around her has a piece of evil but now her community will see her for her true personality and be able to truly keep the evil out of her town. In conclusion, Miss Strangeworth is so narcissistic that she does not realize she is the problem; her narcissism has made her believe she is above everyone else causing her actions to be the evil she despises.