The Possibility of Evil Essay

When one believes so intently in their cause, they neglect how it may influence others. Shirley Jackson advocates in her short story, “The Possibility of Evil”, behind a good moral are unacceptable methods. The protagonist, Miss Strangeworth, shares that she aspires to avert her town from evil. However, the methods that she appoints to employ highlights more evil than they abolish.
Miss Strangeworth “never spent more than a day” outside of her town. Her grandfather “built the first house” on Pleasant Street. The town is and always will be Miss Strangeworth’s home. As such, she views it as her responsibility to “alert” the town that “belonged to her” from corruption. Unfortunately, the way in which Miss Strangeworth chooses to inform her town of evil does nothing to remove it, only presenting for all to view.
One of the things that Miss Strangeworth enjoys to do in her spare time is to write letters. These letters, despise dealing only with “negotiable stuff of suspicion”, is Miss Strangeworth’s way to “alert” her town of “evil” that was “unchecked”. These letters do make the townspeople perceptive of the evil but it only brings out fear and paranoia. After a stroll through her town, Miss Strangeworth noted that “many people seemed disturbed recently”. Later, when the townspeople discover who is culpable for the heinous letters, they take drastic measures. Because of her actions, Miss Strangeworth drove the peaceful, caring, friendly townspeople to perform such an extrinsic action, destroying her beloved roses.

In the end, Miss Strangeworth views herself as a good person. She sees nothing erroneous with anything that she had done. Comparable to many antagonists in stories, she views that she is in the right and that she is making the world a better place. However, catastrophe hides itself within good intentions. Ultimately, Miss Strangeworth tried take on a burden that was far greater than she could handle, ended up creating harm to her friends and…

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