“The Possibility of Evil” by Shirley Jackson

In Shirley Jackson’s “The Possibility of Evil” the theme is obvious in the title. There is always the possibility of evil in any person. Jackson expresses this theme through symbolism, foreshadowing, and repetition. The roses in the story are a great item for expressing all of the elements. Miss Strangeworth’s garden is referenced to many times throughout the story. The roses are a great symbolism to Miss Strangeworth herself.

Just like a rose’s soft, pretty petals, Miss Strangeworth appears to be a nice, elderly woman. Just like a rose secretly has sharp thorns, Miss Strangeworth has her pointed side as well. The roses are also a parallel to Miss Strangeworth in the end. Those being destroyed just like her reputation in the town is. The foreshadowing starts in the very beginning with the title. It makes the reader assume there is going to be some sort of evil in the story.

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The main character’s name is also a form of foreshadowing. Miss Strangeworth is quite an interesting name and gives away some insight to the character as a person. The way Miss Strangeworth talked about her roses and how much they were referenced would make one think the roses were going to play some role in the story. Repetition is a good way to show importance of an object, character, or idea. In “The Possibility of Evil” Jackson uses to show some of the symbolism in Miss Strangeworth’s life.

It was first apparent with the constant references to the roses. They had the most symbolism in the story and at some points, it seemed as though the roses themselves, were a character. After reading “The Possibility of Evil” by Shirley Jackson, one can learn that it doesn’t take a dark mysterious figure to be malicious. Even a nice, old woman can be vicious. It’s something we can all learn from, a lesson that will never change. Everyone has the ability to malevolent.

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