Insanity in Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily

In the short story “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner the main character Miss Emily, a so-called monument amongst the towns’ people, lives a rather peculiar life. She comes from a well respected family and remains the last living member of noble decent. A woman whose life is restrained to see love because of her father’s strict ways. She was never able to experience the companionship of another besides that of her own father. The silhouette of her father clutching a horsewhip was hung on the wall, as one was to enter the house (31). This represents her father still hovers over her after his death; almost controlling what she does. Emily does not listen to her father’s words of wisdom and appears to fall for a man of lesser stature. With the uncommonness of the relationship along with several other events; it is evident that Miss Emily is up to something. With that said the central theme of Faulkner’s story is madness and insanity and with supporting evidence from the story I will be able to prove my case.

The first case to prove the theme is when her father had dies. She obviously is in great denial of her fathers death: “The day after his death all the ladies prepared to call at the house and offer condolence and aid, as is our custom. Miss Emily met them at the door, dressed as usual and with no trace of grief on her face. She told them that her father was not dead” (31). Understandable Emily doesn’t want to let go of the only person who cares and shows love for her. When the case is such one holds on to a deceased body three days after the death; that’s when we have some serious problems. Who knows how long Emily is preparing to keep this body because it took threats from the law for her to release the body to the ministers (31). When she cuts her hair off to make herself look young again it is apparent that she didn’t want to go through change.

This isn’t the argument of my paper but it does make sense that she isn’t willing to learn or do new things. From paying her taxes to living her life without the restraints of her father; not necessarily a good thing but she didn’t want it to change.

Leave a Comment