The Possibility of Evil by Shirley Jackson

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Why does Miss Strangeworth secretly warn people of the possibility of evil in "The Possibility of Evil"?

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Miss Strangeworth has been writing her anonymous poison-pen letters for about one year and is getting a lot of enjoyment out of her new hobby. It would seem that she does not understand her true motives for writing these letters or how much anxiety and discord she is causing in her little community. She tells herself that it is her civic duty because she is the oldest surviving member of the town's founding family. This seems like a rationalization. This sweet little old lady has a strong desire to be important. 

Yes, we all crave attention. We want to be important, immortal. We want to do things that will make people exclaim, “Isn’t he wonderful?”

The urge to be outstanding is a fundamental necessity in our lives. All of us, at all times, crave attention. Self-consciousness, even reclusiveness, springs from the desire to be important.   
--Lajos Egri 

Etiam sapientibus cupido gloriae novissima exuitur.
“The thirst for fame is the last thing of all to be laid aside by wise men.”

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

It can also be seen from the letters and the people to whom they are addressed that Miss Strangeworth is filled with envy and jealousy. She is an old maid who has never been loved and never had her dream of being a mother fulfilled. She is really a pitiful case, in spite of the fact that she is a busybody and a troublemaker. She has written several letters to Helen Crane hinting that the six-month-old daughter who is the light of her life may be mentally retarded. On the day of the story she is writing a similar...

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