The Possibility of Evil by Shirley Jackson

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What is the significance of the title in "The Possibility of Evil"?

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The title of the story "The Possibility of Evil" is a double entendre. Miss Strangeworth is obsessed with the possibility of evil in the citizens of "her town." Yet she doesn't realize that she has the possibility of evil in herself and brings it out in others. In fact, the story suggests that every one of us harbors the possibility of evil.

When Don Crane destroys all of Miss Strangeworth's precious rose bushes he is admittedly doing an evil deed--but she has brought it out in him. If a nice, ordinary guy and loving father like Don Crane can do such evil things, and if a nice old lady like Miss Strangeworth can do such evil things--than the assumption is pretty obvious that every human being has that evil potential which in most of us is suppressed but could come out under the right circumstances. 

The thesis of "The Possibility of Evil" is not much different from that of Shirley Jackson's story "The Lottery ." In that notorious short story we see the sadistic natures of some three...

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