The Possibility of Evil: Advice Is Not Always Helpful

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`In the short story “The Possibility of Evil” by Shirley Jackson, the readers are reminded through Miss Strangeworth’s character that even though one’s intentions may be to help another person, their advice is not always appreciated.

Miss Strangeworth is a very well respected person in the small town she lives in. She is always happy and willing to talk to everyone. Throughout the short story, she sends anonymous letters to people with advice in hope to make the town a peaceful place. One of the letters is sent to Mr. Lewis, claiming that his grandson is stealing money from the family run store register (Jackson 5). Her intention is to help Mr. Lewis realize that someone might be taking money from the store’s register and she simply wants to make him aware of the theft taking place in the store. She is trying to diminish the evil in the town by offering her advice to and knowledge to Mr. Lewis about things which might be going on in the store; she has a positive intention to help the people in her town. She also writes a letter to Linda Stewart’s parents telling them about Linda’s possible relationship with Harris (Jackson 5). Her intention is to get Linda’s parents aware of what is going on in Linda’s life and how Harris may not be a good influence in their daughter’s life, her purpose for sending these letters are good. Another letter in which she is trying to be helpful is sent to Helen Crane, telling her how there might be something wrong with her child (Jackson 5). Again, Miss Strangworth is just trying to be helpful by offering advice to a worried mother who is concerned about her child. This again proves that Miss Strangworth has good intentions behind her letters because she is trying to solve all the problems which exist in the town. She does not think about the problems which she may create because of the letters she sends.

Even though Miss Strangeworth is giving advice to the people in her town, her advice is more harmful than helpful, which shows...
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