Shirley Jackson Response

Topics: Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne, Salem witch trials, The Crucible, Short story / Pages: 3 (544 words) / Published: Oct 11th, 2016
Short Story Response- The Possibility of Evil For the mystery story “The Possibility of Evil” by Shirley Jackson, I will be responding to the validity and development of the theme, and the symbolism used.

Firstly, the theme I find the most prominent within the story is simply that people are not always as they seem. This story revolves around Miss Strangeworth, who is portrayed in the beginning as a lovely old lady who everyone in the town loves dearly. “When she came into the grocery, half a dozen people turned away from shelves and the counters to wave at her or call out good morning”, (Jackson, 223). It is said that all she wants is peace and happiness in the town but in reality, she is not so sweet and sincere
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Miss Strangeworth’s lovely roses are her prized possession and to her, represent the way she wants her town to be- untouchable, perfect, orderly, and free of evil. This is why she is so protective over her roses. “It bothered Miss Strangeworth to think of people wanting to carry them away, to take them into strange towns and down strange streets”, (Jackson, 223). They are put on display, but not to be touched. This is extremely similar to how Miss Strangeworth views her town; she is extremely protective and goes out of her way to prevent any possible harm from occurring. However, the roses have a secondary meaning; they symbolize Miss Strangeworth herself. On the outside, a rose is a beautiful, delicate thing that everyone loves, but on the inside, it has thorns, which are sharp and painful. This is also an accurate representation of how Miss Strangeworth is as a person. On the surface, she is a wonderful, sweet lady but on the inside, she is capable of evil things- her secret letters, for instance. Likewise, at the end the story not only are Miss Strangeworth’s actual roses ruined, but her image as well. “Look out at what used to be your roses”, (Jackson, 228).

In conclusion, the mystery story “The Possibility of Evil” by Shirley Jackson portrays a theme of ‘people aren’t always as they seem’ and demonstrates symbolism through the roses to represent both the idea of a perfect town and Miss Strangeworth

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