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Analysis Of Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived In The Castle

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The inner workings of the mind are always wired to be apprehensive towards deceit, especially when this deceit is coming from the mind of a murderer. Shirley Jackson’s gothic novel We Have Always Lived in the Castle revolves around the obscure life of a deceitful 18 year-old girl, Mary Katherine Blackwood. Mary Katherine, nicknamed Merricat, narrates the novel and lives with her older sister Constance as well as her wheelchair-bound uncle Julian. The novel tells the story of Merricat’s isolated life after the mysterious poisoning of the remaining Blackwoods, and how this “incident” affects character interaction within their household and the rest of their village. The mystery genre structure along with Merricat’s unreliable narration creates the central conflict of the novel, in which readers must look beyond the the information the narrator provides to discover the truth about the foregrounded murders as well as the plot of the novel.
From the beginning of the novel, readers are informed of a murder that took place prior to the novel’s introduction which would become a major point of tension in the story. The entire Blackwood family, including Merricat’s parents died due to an abhorrent poisoning. This poisoning was incited by an unknown suspect who laced sugar with arsenic. The first to provide the inside story about the murder comes from Uncle Julian, the only survivor of the lethal sugar cubes. ‘They arrested [Constance] at once,” uncle Julian said. “It was Constance
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