The Possibility of Evil by Shirley Jackson

The Possibility of Evil by Shirley Jackson

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The Possibility of Evil by Shirley Jackson
Works Cited Missing


The insight on life can be influenced greatly on past experiences and
those

experiences that one only dreams about. These perceptions are windows
into our

thoughts about life. In the story "The Possibility of Evil" by Shirley
Jackson, Jackson

develops the idea how one perceives the world can have a great impact
on her beliefs and

values. When acted upon these beliefs, they can determine how one may
choose their

destination in life. This has an impact not only on oneself but on
others as well.

Adela Strangeworth perceives the world and as her town full of evil.
She

believes it is her duty to protect her little town and her house on
Pleasant Street

where her ancestors have lived generations earlier. She is seen as an
advisor and

monument of the town because of the contribution her Strangeworth
relations contributed

to her society centuries before. She feels she needs to "create" her
mark, in order to give

her life acceptance, further than being the warden of the Strangeworth
heritage. In turn

Adella is not the only one who gets affected in the small town.

Since Adela holds the Strangeworth legacy, her family had done so much

for the town that she feels that she owns the small town, Pleasant
Street, her roses

and everyone who lives in it. " My Grandfather built the first house
on Pleasant

Street…she sometimes found herself thinking that the town belonged to
her."


(Jackson 211) Adela believes that it is her responsibility to her
citizens of the kind of

evil that exists in her modest town, and that she will help her
neighbors as her ancestors

have done. "The town where she lived had to be kept clean and sweet,
but people

everywhere were lustful and evil and degraded, and needed to be
watched; the world was

so large, and there was only one Strangeworth left in it.

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" (212) She
feels that she owes it

to her ancestors by continuing the tradition and in turn the town
should be grateful to the

Strangeworth's. "They wanted to put up a statue of Ethan Allen… but it
should have been

a statue of my grandfather. There wouldn't have been a town here at
all if it hadn't been

for my grandfather and the lumber mill." (212). To carry on the
Strangeworth tradition

of contributing to the town, she offers her advice to the townsfolk.
"Most of the children

stood back respectfully as Miss Strangeworth passed…. it would have
been most

reprehensible for their parents to permit their children to mock Miss
Strangeworth of

Pleasant Street….no one in town would dare to disturb Miss
Strangeworth during her

afternoon nap." (219,218) She would give advice to her neighbors then
go home and wrie

letters saying the totally opposite. Adela does not see the evil she
is committing when she

writes the anonymous, nasty letters throughout the small town. She
wrote a letter to the

Crane family stating: "After thinking for a minute, although she has
been phrasing the

letter in the back of her mind all the way home, she wrote on a pink
sheet: DIDN'T YOU

EVER SEE AN IDIOT CHILD BEFORE?" (216) She believes that she is
warning

everyone of the evil that is lurking within her town and in turn is
upholding her family

name; although she leaves no clue that she is writing them. "She never
got any answers,

of course, because she never signed her name, Adela Strangeworth, a
name honored in


the town for so many years, did not belong on such trash….when she
felt like writing her

other letters she used a pad of various-colored paper…she used a dull
stub of a

pencil…and she printed them in a childish block print." (217,215,216)

Adela's roses play a symbolic part; they symbolize how she cherishes
her

family's contribution to the society and in hope she wishes to keep
the tradition and play

a significant role just like her ancestors have done. Although she is
living in the fame of

the other Strangeworth's without contributing and leaving her own "
mark" to be

remembered. "This house right here. My family has lived here for
better than a hundred

years. My grandmother planted these roses, and my mother tended them,
just as I

do…..Miss Strangeworth never gave away any of her roses…the roses
belonged on

Pleasant Street, and it bothered Miss Strangeworth to think people
wanted to carry them

away…into strange streets." (212) Her roses were a part of the
Strangeworth's lifestyle.

They belonged only on Pleasant Street, as did her ancestors. "The town
was proud of

Miss Strangeworth and her roses and her house. They had all grown
together." (215)

Adela's thoughts and feelings about the evil in her town was
conclusive

when she received an anonymous letter from a fellow citizen concluding
that she was

caught red handed for writing the letters. "Look out at what used to
be your roses."

(221)When Adela finds out that her roses have been destroyed she
realizes that

she can not destroy the evil in her town and that there is no good in
people. "She began to

cry silently for the wickedness of the world." (221) Her roses were
very important to her

and with them destroyed she realized that people have no respect for
the Strangeworth's

contribution to the small town and her family's legacy.



Adela felt that the town needed to be run by her authority and that
she was always

right. She could not accept other people's point of views or faults.
She could not see how

her strange way of perceiving things were not always best for her town
or the people. To

Adela her way of approaching and handling situations seemed normal but
in turn she was

wrecking the town.
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