Shelly Moy N. ReganENG122ALSeptember 19, 2002“Evil:A Host of Happiness”In the short stories “A Rose For Emily,” by William Faulkner and “The Possibility of Evil,” by Shirley Jackson both authors create similar characters and settings that illustrate daring images of evil.
Both Emily Grierson and Adela Strangeworth are women who share similar characteristics yet pose completely different motives.Their stories take place in close-knit towns, which play essential roles in their motives for evil.Emily Grierson and Adela Strangeworth demonstrate similarities and differences that develop their actions, revealing the possibility of evil within them. Both towns that Emily Grierson and Adela Strangeworth exist in are important settings for their actions.Without their towns both women may not have faced their disastrous conclusions.
Emily Grierson’s position in her town was not chosen, it was handed down to her by her father as an aristocrat of her small town.Her town alienated her and placed her under the high expectations of a classic southern aristocrat.They treated Emily as “a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation” (FAULKNER 89).
Her town’s nosiness kept her from the man she loved and ultimately alienated her from all parts of the town.Emily Grierson’s role in her town was chosen for her. However, Adela Strangeworth’s role was one she chose herself.Adela Strangeworth’s position was the exact opposite of Emily Grierson’s.Adela Strangeworth was involved with everyone’s business, “This was, after all, her town, and these were her people; if one of them was in trouble, she ought to know about it” (JACKSON 469).She wrote them secret, mean and hateful letters in reciprocation to their evil actions, which began to ruin their lives.Her nosiness, not the towns, drove her to her final fate.Both towns played an essential role in developing the women’s evil actions.Emily Grierson and Adela Strangeworth both resort to evil actions in order to gain control over that which they desired.Did Adela Strangeworth demonstrate a greater sense of evil for invading her town’s privacy, or was Emily Grierson more evil as she committed murder?The American Heritage Dictionary defines evil as “morally bad or wrong; love in public esteem” (DICTIONARY 249).Adela Strangeworth’s decision to disrupt her town’s privacy was bad and Emily Grierson’s decision to murder Homer Barron was wrong.However in examining the second part of this definition, Adela Strangeworth appears more evil than Emily Grierson.The second part of the definition, “low in public esteem,” creates an area of contrast for the two women.“Her letters all dealt with the more negotiable stuff of suspicion” (JACKSON 467), the letters she writes are all assumptions, lacking evidence and facts for such accusations.Adela Strangeworth’s acts were so cruel in the public’s eye that they destroy her rose bushes.Emily’s public, however, does not maintain her at a low esteem.They actually idolize her as a “fallen monument” (FAULKNER 87) to their town’s history.Throughout her story and even after the townspeople discover the murder of Homer Barron, the town consistently feels bad for Emily.By reexamining the definition provided by the American Heritage Dictionary Adela’s actions.