The Psychosis of Emily Grierson in A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner
Through the use of third person point of view and elaborate, repetitive foreshadowing, William Faulkner describes how numerous elements contributed to Miss Emily’s deranged behavior in the short story, ‘A Rose for Emily.’ Not only does Faulkner imply paternal oppression, but there is also a clear indication of insanity that is an inherent pattern in the Grierson family. The shocking conclusion of ‘A Rose for Emily’ could be the result of a number of circumstances, but is most likely due to the years of isolation and the overbearing upbringing Emily experienced with her father.
The first indication Faulkner gives the reader as to Miss Emily?s instability is towards the end of the first section which describes how several members of the Board of Alderman call upon Miss Emily in an effort to collect her taxes. Faulkner points out earlier in the same section that ten years ago in 1894, Colonel Sartoris, the Mayor of Jefferson at the time, remitted Miss Emily?s taxes following the death of her father. The board members are admitted to the Grierson home where, after listening to the reason for their visit, Miss Emily first suggests that they ?. . .gain access to the city records and satisfy yourselves? (89). It is only moments later, after a brief exchange with these city authorities, that Miss Emily further advises them to ?See Colonel Sartoris? (Faulkner 89). The narrator then adds that the colonel has been dead almost ten years, which is Faulkner?s first clue to readers that Miss Emily is perhaps a bit delusional or confused.
The second section alludes to the odor of decaying flesh emanating from Miss Emily?s home. The townspeople explain the sm…
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… murder of Homer Barron by Miss Emily is the result of her father?s oppression, an inherited tendency toward insanity or a combination of factors is unknown. However, Faulkner succeeds in instilling the smallest trace of pity for Miss Emily, not only by acknowledging her thwarted love life at the hands of her father, but also within the title ?A Rose for Emily.? While her actions were clearly of a psychotic nature, consciously planned out and carried through, by murdering Homer Barron, Miss Emily insured that she would finally have a love that would never leave her.
Faulkner, William. ?A Rose for Emily.? Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. Eds. Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell. 4th ed. Orlando: Harcourt, Inc. 2001. 87 ? 94.
?Necrophilia.? Funk & Wagnalls: Standard Encyclopedic Dictionary. Ed. 1972. 435.