“A Bizarre Domestic Metamorphosis”: Gender Roles, Power Relations and Threatened Homes in Shirley Jackson’s Like Mother Used to Make

Gustavo Vargas Cohen


American writer Shirley Jackson (1916-1965) inserted cryptic thematic-elements in her stories, thus creating a mythology inherent to her literary cosmos. The present concern is to analyze how these inconspicuous elements contribute to a better understanding of the short story Like Mother Used to Make (featured in the 1948 collection The Lottery and Other Stories). The intention is to decode some of these recondite elements and discuss their contribution to the interpretation of this tale. To aid in the analysis, an informal method was devised taking into consideration two hypothetical readers, namely a “novice Jackson reader” and an “experienced Jackson reader”. This system intends to service as an example of how pervasive these cryptic elements can be. In the study of Like Mother Used to Make, special attention was devoted to the (frustrated) expectations regarding gender roles and power relations between the three main characters: the meek David Turner, his loud neighbor Marcia (for whom he is romantically attracted to) and an ill-timed visitor (who will offer unexpected danger, considering that David’s home will be threatened by the presence of this mysterious third party, a figure who inhabits the depths of Shirley Jackson’s Lore, the malignant demon James Harris.


Shirley Jackson; papéis de gênero; relações de poder.

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