What is Ms. Strangeworth's motivation for writing the letters she does?  

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Miss Strangeworth is obviously somewhat insane. This makes it hard to understand her motivation. She probably does not understand it herself. There are several plausible reasons why she writes her anonymous letters.

  • It makes her feel important to be supervising the people in her town and to be offering suggestions,...

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Miss Strangeworth is obviously somewhat insane. This makes it hard to understand her motivation. She probably does not understand it herself. There are several plausible reasons why she writes her anonymous letters.

  • It makes her feel important to be supervising the people in her town and to be offering suggestions, warnings, and advice. 

    I now perceive an immense omission in my psychology: the deepest principle of human nature is the craving to be appreciated.
    William James

    To be a human being means to possess a feeling of inferiority, which constantly presses towards its own conquest....The greater the feeling of inferiority that has been experienced, the more powerful is the urge for conquest and the more violent the emotional agitation.
    Alfred Adler

    The author Shirley Jackson shows that Miss Strangeworth attaches great importance to her social status. She feels responsible for the morality of the whole community. The problem is that she is really not important at all. She is just a little old lady who is sometimes a busybody and sometimes a nuisance. The way she demands special attention from Mr. Lewis the proprietor of the grocery store shows her need to feel important.
  • She enjoys writing these letters. She enjoys picking out the colors of the sheets and envelopes. She enjoys creating just the right words and tones.
  • She is envious and jealous because she has never been married, never had a baby, never felt loved. She is a little like Emily Grierson in William Faulkner's short story "A Rose for Emily." The victims of Miss Strangeworth's poison-pen letters always have someone to care about and to care about them. Don and Helen Crane have a six-months-old baby girl they adore. Linda Stewart and Dave Harris are high school kids in love. Mrs. Harper has a husband. Mr. Lewis has a grandson. And so on. Assuming Miss Strangeworth is insane, she must have a split personality. One part of her doesn't understand that her letters are causing troubles all over town, while there must be another part of her that knows why she is writing these letters but doesn't like to acknowledge her motives even to herself. The fact that she has to remain anonymous in her letters suggests that she knows she is doing something evil and has to keep her rancor a secret.

 

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