The dissertation is a critical study of the fiction of Shirley Jackson. It uses a story published shortly after her death in 1965 to express the key to the main themes and concerns of her fiction: "The Possibility of Evil." It is the thesis of the study that Shirley Jackson's fiction portrays the many incognitoes of evil and the demonic in contemporary life. Through the use of gothic conventions Jackson reveals the contours of human madness and loneliness in a disintegrating world generally bereft of the meliorating power of love and forgiveness.
Each of her six novels is treated fully: The Road Through The Wall (1948); Hangsaman (1951); The Bird's Nest (1954); The Sundial (1958); The Haunting of Hill House (1959); and We Have Always Lived in the Castle (1962). In addition, the study explores her two collections of short stories collected under the titles The Lottery (1949) and Come Along With Me (1968), as well as numerous uncollected stories.
Shirley Jackson's fiction is part of the American tradition of the gothic romance or tale of terror, and her relation to such authors as Poe, Hawthorne, Henry James, and Flannery O'Connor, among others, is shown throughout the study. With these authors she shares a dark view of human nature. But through the use of gothic, terror, and the grotesque, Jackson's fiction not only explores the inner experience of contemporary life, but also suggests that the recognition and confrontation of the evil in man may be the first step in transcending it.
Level of Degree
First Committee Member (Chair)
Joel M. Jones
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Ferenc Morton Szasz
Parks, John Gordon. "The Possibility of Evil: The Fiction of Shirley Jackson." (1973). https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/amst_etds/105