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Shirley Jackson’s Constant Battle of Self Satisfaction

Powerful Essays
Noted by Darryl Hattenhauer, Shirley Jackson, an American gothic author, "ranked among America's most highly regarded fiction writers" during the "1940s, 1950s, and 1960s" (1). Jackson argued that “a good story must engage its reader, persuade him that he wants to belong in the story for as long as it lasts,” and if the author fails to provide such experience then they can consider their work a failure (Hall 113). The idea of authors providing an experience of enjoyment by involving them in the story, made Jackson a successful writer. She also believed that if an author is asked where their ideas come from they would simply “find [themselves] telling over, in some detail, the story of [their] life”, another reason why Jackson was a great writer (Hall 117). Jackson’s continuous refusal to agree with her mother’s beliefs about how women should portray themselves, repeated struggle against depression, and life as a wife/mother, influenced many of her stories.

Many of Jackson’s stories were influenced by the continuous refusal to agree with her mother’s beliefs about how women should portray themselves. Jackson’s mother always wanted her to be the typical woman, a beautiful house wife. Her mother, from the day Jackson was born, wished that her daughter could be “a fool, a beautiful fool, the best thing a girl could be in this life” (Oppenheimer 11). Despite her mother’s wishes, Jackson was anything but a beautiful fool. The constant struggle against her mother’s negative feedback towards the person she wanted Jackson to be, influenced the view she had about women being capable to do more with their lives.

Most of the characters in Jackson’s stories are, not surprisingly, women. It's been argued that Jackson created women characters...

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...nheimer, Judy. "Chapter 1." Private Demons: The Life of Shirley Jackson. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1988. 11. Print.

Oppenheimer, Judy. "Chapter 3." Private Demons: The Life of Shirley Jackson. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1988. 36. Print.

Oppenheimer, Judy. "Chapter 7." Private Demons: The Life of Shirley Jackson. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1988. 62. Print.

Oppenheimer, Judy. "Chapter 22." Private Demons: The Life of Shirley Jackson. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1988. 249. Print.

Oppenheimer, Judy. "Chapter 22." Private Demons: The Life of Shirley Jackson. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1988. 260-261. Print.

"Shirley Hardie Jackson." Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1981. Biography in Context. Web. 5 May 2014.

"Shirley Jackson." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2007. Literature Resource Center. Web. 6 May 2014.
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