Rhoda Penmark is a sweet, little girl beloved by all. It is only after the "accidental" drowning of a classmate that Rhoda's mother begins to recall a past series of unfortunate events, events that seemed to always involve Rhoda, with tragic consequences for anyone who crosses her. Is there such a thing as true evil? Is it only a bad environment or bad influences that effect children, or can an individual have inherent tendencies that drive them toward certain evil behavior? Such questions are raised in the play that inspired a film that still causes audiences to shudder.