Miss Adela Strangeworth In The Possibility Of Evil By Shirley Jackson

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For most people, the words evil and harsh are not the typical traits used to describe an elderly woman. However, in the short story “The Possibility of Evil” by Shirley Jackson, the 71 year old character Miss Adela Strangeworth, has a dark predatory nature hiding behind her highly respectable and sweet exterior. She preys upon her peers by misleading them into thinking everything is fine, only to subsequently tear them down. She accomplishes this by concealing her cruel, deceitful and perfectionist personality by maintaining an honourable reputation within her town. Miss Strangeworth shows no mercy when she anonymously reveals secrets about the family and lives of people in her community. She has the option to politely confront people and gently tell them anything she deems necessary however, she chooses to write cruel, insensitive letters in secret. She demonstrates …show more content…

She acts in a caring manner to everyone’s face, but when she is alone, she becomes a heartless woman, determined to reveal what she knows. Miss Strangeworth is the one causing the distress in her community, yet she acts oblivious as to what is bothering everyone. She shows her extreme deceitfulness by attempting to ease Helen Crane’s concern about her child by saying “Nonsense… some of them develop… more quickly than others” (Jackson, 1941, p. 167). This is deceitful because she is aware that there is something different about the child and instead of voicing that, she consoles the mother, only to subsequently shatter her in an anonymous letter. Additionally, Miss Strangeworth cleverly utilizes the most common paper and envelops all townspeople use for her letters. This, and the fact that she mails them late in the evening is her devious way of avoiding being caught. She has plenty of cunning ways of avoiding suspicion, making deceitful the perfect word to describe

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