A Rose For Emily and Other Short Stories
William Faulkner’s View of Refusal and Despair Evident in the Life of Emily as Illustrated in His Book, A Rose For Emily
A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner is a short story of sadness concerning a woman, Emily, who faces a struggle of inability to adapt to the changes in her life and the surrounding thus she results to living in denial and fear within herself. The story is demarcated into five sections with each section offering a specific perspective. Psychoanalytic criticism is a psychology theory that explains the behaviors of people are motivated and even driven by desires, conflicts, needs, and fears of which many they are unaware. We see throughout this story Emily living in denial and grappling with concerns that she is unable to come to terms with, denying to accept the changes within and around her life thus being constantly in isolation and despair.
The story shows Emily living in denial when her father dies. She continues to repress her feelings of grief within her pretending outwardly to be okay. A section of ladies a day his death decides to visit her and to pass their condolences and offer any help. She met them with no semblance of grief on her face and dressed as usual at the door (pg. 4). She even denies that her father is dead. They go to her house for three days pleading with her to allow them to dispose her father’s body to no avail. She only allowed them to take the body just when they were about to use the law. She breaks down at this point and they quickly buried her father understanding her position (pg.4).
Another instance of denial is evident when she murders Homer Barron. The two are seen spending time together on several occasions. Many people think that Emily has finally found a suitor in Homer and that they would marry. Homer is lastly seen entering Emily’s house where she kills him. Her father’s dominance upon her drove away suitors for years by turning them away as unworthy (pg. 5). She feels lonely and thus accepts Homer’s attention. Realizing that he had no firm wedding plans and fearing to lose him, she decides to have total control of him by killing him. She cannot accept the reality of him leaving her and would instead kill him than let him go. For years she sleeps beside the physical remains of her dead lover.
Emily also portrays denial when she refuses to admit that she had taxes in Jefferson. The town leaders sent her notices with no reply. They finally hold a meeting and send a group to visit her at her home. With a dry and cold voice, she declared having no taxes in Jefferson as explained by colonel Sartoris and even dares them to check the records to satisfy themselves (pg.3). Colonel Sartoris had invented a tale exempting their family from paying taxes, a tale which does not satisfy the new generation of town leaders. She even does not realize that the person she is asking them to confirm from is long dead. She fears to cope up with the changing times and thus chooses isolation as the hideout. She continually lives in denial of her surroundings to live her life as she desires with no interference, suppressing her fears and hurts and keeping them to herself.
She denies the fact that she needs help and support of friends to steady her life but instead withdraws to isolation where her health deteriorates, home stinks and even murders her lover. The only person she allows into her company is the Negro manservant who served as the combined gardener and cook. For ten years, nobody else she authorized to enter into that house, and she rarely went out. The ladies were not surprised when a foul smell developed as the Negro man servant according to them could not keep the kitchen properly (pg.4). Unwilling to let go her lover even after murdering her she results to necrophilia and even her health deteriorates.
When she can no longer contain the mental pressure and unable to adapt to the changes both in her life and her surrounding, she succumbs to her sickness. Her father had limited her to understanding only his standard of southern woman and values and so refused to conform with the evolving times. She always lived in isolation and despair with repressed feelings of fear until with no one waiting on her except the doddering Negro man. For a long time, she fell sick and no one even knew she was sick for they had long given up trying to get information concerning her from the Negro (pg4).
Repression of our painful experiences and feelings does not erase them from memory; instead, we unconsciously play them out in our behavior. People also tend to develop defenses within such as denial and fear among others. In this short story, A Rose for Emily, the unconscious and defenses advanced by the narrator illustrate the psychoanalytic criticism.
Comparison of Culture and Transformation As Depicted In A Rose for Emily By William Faulkner
In today’s day and time, it is not as shocking when women become pregnant out of wedlock, people of the same sex get married, and people date out of their race. However, these occurrences used to cause quite a stir before today’s time. Often times when reading literature we fail to realize the role the time period plays in the underlying meaning. This is the case in William Faulkner’s story, A Rose for Emily, which takes place in the late 1800s to the early 1900s in a very southern town in Mississippi. During this time period many things that are acceptable in 2017 were then frowned upon. Reading this story that is set in an era much different from today, it is revealed how much things have changed. William Faulkner uses Emily’s relationship with Homer and the other members of society to reveal the theme of tradition versus change.
Throughout the story it is evident that Emily represents change, while the townspeople embody the established traditional values. The contrast between the two, reveals the effect that societal rules can have on a person. It is mentioned in the beginning of the story that “Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town”(Glaspell 205). Emily Grierson, even when dead, is not seen as a human being with feelings or insides, but is instead simply seen as a fallen monument. Throughout the story her value and reputation to the town is recognized more than the hurt and pain that she endures as a person. Even after her father’s death she is not seen as a grieving human being going through something traumatic, but instead the town is quick to get on her about her taxes. According to Terry Heller, “Emily, as improverished asirsocracy, is somewhat like the former slaves; she becomes a duty, obligation, and care. The Colonel’s apparently charitable action is qualified by his motives, which appear to be based more on the maintenance of a rigid class order then on respectful affection”(Heller). Through context it appears as though the town has more importance and life than the people in it.
It is revealed later in the story that “none of the young men were quite good enough for Miss Emily and such”(Glaspell 207). This brings up another aspect of Emily’s relationship with the townspeople: the societal views on women. Although it may be briefly discussed in History Class, the societal views on women during the Victorian era is most thoroughly revealed through literature such as “A Rose for Emily.” The way the townspeople go about in a gossiping uproar due to Emily’s lack of a husband and kids, shows the emphasis that society has on family. During this era, women were expected to be married mid 20s and to have already started working on kids. Therefore, Emily being 30 years old and without neither a husband nor kids, goes against the established tradition of the town. William Faulkner’s use of Emily’s lack of a family, shows that rules are meant to be broken and tradition is meant to be changed. He does not use Emily to represent a woman who does not want to start a family, but instead, he uses her to represent a woman who wants to go about starting a family on her own terms. She is a character who wants what she wants and will stop at nothing to get it, even if it means breaking the tradition that she once represented before her father’s death.
Emily Grierson refuses to confide with the townspeople and their set traditions, but instead completely goes against them when her affair with Homer begins. The relationship between Emily, a wealthy white woman, and Homer, a poor black man, symbolize the glorious pre-war between the north and the south. During this time, blacks were not seen as anything more than slaves even those like Homer, who were from up north. It is when their relationship is first mentioned that the phrase, “poor Emily” begins appearing in the text. Emily’s affection toward Homer is seen as nothing more than her settling for whatever she can get, but her actual love for him is not taken into consideration because it is not what societal rules say is acceptable. Faulkner throws in a curve ball when he begins to address Emily’s purchase of rat poisoning, which leaves the readers guessing the purpose of it. It is through the gossip of the townspeople that we discover that Homer is in fact, gay, but this statement is pushed aside when it is revealed that Emily bought a man’s toilet seat and men’s clothing, which somehow signifies her marriage to Homer. The surprising thing is that after assuming Emily’s marriage to Homer, the townspeople respond with, “We were glad. We were really glad because the two female cousins were even more Grierson than Miss Emily had ever been” (Glaspell 209). This gladness found in the townspeople shows their disapproval and therefore, removal of Emily. Her previous breaking of their tradition which dents her reputation, is finally set off the edge due to her assumed marriage to a black man. It is then that other people are seen more as a Grierson, a prized tradition, than she is herself.
It is toward the end of the story that we discover the true story behind Emily and Homer, which leaves a gruesome feeling. Emily’s anger fueled from Homer’s confession of his sexuality, leads her to kill him. However, not only does she kill him using their rat poisoning she previously purchased, but she still goes along as if they get married and sleeps with his dead body until she dies herself. Although this plot twist of an ending leaves a reader feeling overwhelmed and somewhat taken back, it is the underlying symbolism that strikes a cord. In Homer, Emily found someone she could marry and start a family with, someone who would finally give her what a woman was supposed to have. However, Homer’s sexuality deprives her of these things and thus, robs her of her womanhood. The traditions bestowed upon her, leaves her so set on achieving society’s perception of womanhood, that she loses her sanity along the way. According to, Emily spent most of the time of her life through isolation both mentally and physically. It seems that Emily started fading with time” (Mohsin 3). Another symbolic meaning to the gruesome tale is Emily’s inability to cope with death. When her father died it was from natural causes, which left Emily with nothing to do about it. However, with Homer, by killing him, she gave herself control over his death. By sleeping with his corpse, she was able to keep him near her even in death, which was something she could not do with her father. Emily’s death plays a very significant role in the story because it leaves the townspeople without a say in the matter of Homer. Throughout the entire story we are told the townspeople’s reactions and gossip to Emily’s entire life, but due to her death, they are unable to say anything about Homer. They finally shut up.
The title itself, “A Rose for Emily,” reveals the theme of tradition verses change, because traditionally we would not applaud Emily for what she did to Homer or recognize it in an honorable way. However, William Faulkner looks deeper into the real reason why she did what she did, and presents her a rose to give her the happy ending she truly deserves. The rose that the author figuratively bestows upon Emily, is the final and well-awaited recognition of her as a human. It is through the title that Emily is finally humanized.
Standing Alone Together: an Analysis of Fear and Independence in William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” and Louise Erdrich’s “Fleur”
What is it to be ostracised? “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner and “Fleur” by Louise Erdrich, are tales that encompass the idea of social exclusion. The characters in these stories sit upon a precipice of social isolation, destitute to be ostracised by their communities. Fleur and Emily both challenged societal ideals invoking fear within their compatriots and were consequentially ostracised and treated with aggression when perceived as a threat. Both women retaliated against their stereotypical confinements based on gender, age, race, and class. Fleur and Emily defied the traditional concepts of socially accepted gendered behaviours, and even dared defy gender normativity. Fleur was ill perceived. She displayed raw masculinity throughout the entirety of her story. She was first perceived as masculine through the clothes she wore. She was described as being “dressed like a man” (Erdrich 803).
This concept of her unfiltered masculinity was again represented by her having a man like strength (Erdrich 804) when she worked at the butcher’s shop. This uncompromised masculinity flared once more in her ability to play cards. She was thought to be abnormal because a co-worker named Lily could not believe, “that a woman could be smart enough to play cards” (Erdrich 806). These displays of masculine traits were not accepted and were even feared by the relative community. Fleur was a strong, uncompromised woman and therefore uncomprehensive and threatening. Her skill at cards, while once seen as impressive, quickly turned into a suspicious trait (Erdrich 806). These traditionally masculine traits forced Fleur from the gendered role of dainty and meek, which resulted in her inability to be traditional, controlled and defined. Emily was seen in the same regards as defying her perceived gendered behaviour. Emily openly fought men and disregarded their attempted superiority (Faulkner 1).
When gentlemen went to Emily to collect her taxes, she openly disregarded them and asked them to leave (Faulkner 1). She also defied the gender normal ideals on the presentation of a woman’s appearance because she cut her hair off (Faulkner 1). Emily further defiedher gender expectations through her relations with the other women in her community. Within this era, it was perceived that women were supposed to be polite and follow certain cultural behaviours (Faulkner 3). Emily defied this idea, and even went as far as to be individualistic and ignore the ideals of polite femininity (Faulkner 3). Fleur and Emily were bold when they chose to step outside the traditional gendered roles. These actions bonded them together in defying societal expectations but added to their ostracization from their respective communities and ultimately aided in the societies’ fear and abandonment of these women. As well as gender roles, class and race formed another point of contention for Fleur and Emily. These two components within society dictated how their relationships and actions were supposed to be performed. Fleur was a young Indigenous woman, and even within her society, was clearly a lower ranked individual. Within her own community she was cast down to the association with animals instead of people, being describe as a bear (Erdrich 803), or having “grinned the white wolf grin” (Erdrich 805).
When Fleur left her town to seek refuge elsewhere, she was still classed as a lowly Indigenous female. Yet even with this detrimental classing system, Fleur was fiercely independent. Fleur chose to ignore the idea that she owed people anything. She ignored the words of the elders and lived her life according to her own ideas (Erdrich 803). Fleur was not phased by the advancements of gentlemen who where viewed superior to her in the era (Erdrich 805-808). Emily, much like Fleur, defied her class label. Emily was supposed to be demure, but often opposed that concept. She was described as strong willed and in defiance of her class identity. It was said that, “she vanquished them” (Faulkner 2), when discussing men. Further her interaction with the druggist demonstrated her incapacity to fulfill the suspected role. When she went to collect poison, she stared down and intimidated the male druggist into giving her what she wanted without the traditional protocol (Faulkner 4-5).
Emily also refuted the idea of staying within her class for relationships, she instead defied it and was involved with a man beneath her class(Faulkner 5). Emily and Fleur were defiant in nature. They would act outside the realms of social propriety, class, and of course gender, ultimately posing them as threat to the community. The community within both, “Fleur” and “A Rose for Emily”, had intensive beliefs about women. The communities did not accept the women, predominately because of their intensive rejection of societal expectations. Fleur broke the predetermined and undiscussed rules of the community by dressing as man (Erdrich 803), acting animalistic (Erdrich 803-806), and defying the rules of class (Erdrich 803-808). She did not allow the social barricades to control her actions, she instead was freed. This forced her into being viewed as evil and therefore a threat. The upmost desire to extinguish this threat can be seen in the violent act of letting her drown (Erdrich 802). It was stated that, “the next time she fell in the lake Fleur Pillager was twenty years old and no one touched her” (Erdrich 802). The town did not accept Fleur for who she was. In fact, she was so despised and feared that people would rather let her drown or try to run her out of town (Erdrich 803). Fleur again was feared by the gentlemen that she worked with (Erdrich 805-810). They did not understand her abilities or attitude, and this was shown through the medium of cards (Erdrich 805-810).
In retaliation for this she was punished through rape (Erdrich 809). Emily was seen less of a threat solely because of age. She was from a generation that was protected and therefore she was a burden (Faulkner 1). Her punishment for defying rules was less violent. People disregarded her, gossiped and ultimately isolated her (Faulkner 1-7). She was isolated so badly that she kept a body in her house for years and no one knew until she died (Faulkner 7). The women were punished and feared because they were in defiance of the different social rules. To defy the socially constructed rules is to challenge the beliefs of one’s compatriots. Fleur and Emily both challenged the constructs and functions in their own realms. This ultimately led their communities to fear and punish them for their social defiance.
While both women were punished with ostracization and isolation, Fleur was also punished in drastic and violent ways. These women sharedcommonalities in bravery. To be strong and to defy unjust rules, is to evoke fear from their societies that have lost all control and therefore resolve to violent actions. Emily and Fleur were impressively strong women that demonstrated the pain and suffering that accompanied a defiance in the rules; and yet both women remained outcasts as opposed to reforming their behaviours and mold to societal expectations. Fleur and Emily, while their stories ended differently, and their punishments varied, proved undeniably that to be strong and to be feared is still a choice over diminishing their individualism.
The Life of Miss Emily Grierson in a Rose for Emily, a Short Story by William Faulkner
In the short story A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner, Emily Grierson is the protagonist, and the whole story revolves around her. The story begins with a large funeral of Miss Emily and unfolds her life. Miss Emily Grierson is described to be a fat woman living in a modernized town which was full of people who rather saw her as a distant woman, very cold and a woman who lived in her past. (Nichols 150)
Miss Emily is referred by the town people as a duty, care, and tradition. She is portrayed to be very stubborn, mean and old woman before her story unfolds. Later as her story unfolds, she is portrayed by people as a sympathetic character whose story cannot be full. Understood .The title of the story A Rose for Emily also portrays Miss Emily as the protagonist of the story. All that is reflected in the story is about the life of Miss Emily, it starts by her funnel and narrates the life story of Miss Emily after her father`s death and the life after she started dating Homer Barron. (Faulkner 170)
She is stuck in both space and time and does not involve her views in the changing interactions with the society. Emily is a brave woman, in one of the most prominent events in life she refused to pay taxes. Other instances include her slow acceptance to her father`s passing and by her rejecting to have a mailbox put up. She enforces her sense of conduct and law when she refuses numbers to be attached to her house. Her dismissal of the law, however, takes some more sinister consequences, and she takes the life of the man. Despite Emily`s mental instability, she portrays herself as a strong woman.
Miss Emily as described by the narrator in the story lives in an isolated house together with her servant. It took for people from the community to visit her house. At one point in time, some tax collectors came to visit her and noticed a mysterious smell was coming from her house. The smell came two weeks after Miss Emily’s father had died and after her boy boyfriend had left her. The town later came to realize that Miss Emily`s father had died two weeks ago and they gave Miss Emily some condolences. His father was everything to her, and his death brought poverty in her life. After Mr. Grierson dies, however, Miss Emily controls herself by refusing to give up his body. Doctors and preacher visited Miss Emily, talked to her, and finally, she agreed to give out the body of his father. People in the town though she was insane for denial of his father’s body. (Nichols 160)
All that is reflected in the short story is about the life of Miss Emily , it starts by her funnel and narrates the life story of Miss Emily after her father`s death and the life after she started dating Homer Barron.
The Long Life Story of Emily Grierson in A Rose for Emily, a Short Story by William Faulkner
In Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily”, the narrator tells the story of Emily Grierson, a woman who lived an incredibly long life and was known to everyone throughout the town. The story also tells the reader of Emily’s mental deterioration as time goes on was not known or acknowledged by the townspeople. Mental illness, especially in the South, was masked by eccentricities and a tolerant attitude toward those who were socially consider high class (Phelan 188).
The first part of this short story describes Ms. Emily Grierson as a popular woman in the town, mostly because she had been around for so long. “When Miss Emily Grierson died our whole town went to her funeral: the men went through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one had seen save an old man-servant-had seen in the last ten years” (Faulkner 299). In the story, she was tax exempt by Colonel Sartoris after the death of her father in the year 1894. There was no written record of this however, and the newer generation of elected officials tried to send her a notification that her taxes were due. The first sign we see of her mental illness comes when the city authorities arrive to collect her taxes, and she repeatedly states that they need to see Colonel Sartoris, who at that time had been dead for nearly a decade. For Emily, the passage of time doesn’t seem to matter at all as she has spent many years of her life hidden away in her home.
Part two takes place approximately two years after Emily’s father died, and just a short time after she was abandoned by her would be husband. At this point in the story we see further deterioration of Emily’s mental state as she is rarely seen outside of her home. “After her father’s death she went out very little; after her sweetheart went away, people hardly saw her at all” (Faulkner 301). As time passes a horrible smell begins to be emitted from Emily’s house. Many of the citizens complained about it. Eventually Judge Stevens says he refuses to accuse a lady of smelling bad, so four men snuck onto Emily’s property at night and sprinkled lime around the house to prevent the foul odor. The reader later finds out that Emily had pretended everything was normal, as if her father hadn’t died for three days before she finally allowed the body could be disposed of. The reader then realizes that if the smell wasn’t coming from her father where could it be coming from? No one in the town thought she was having serious mental health issues; They thought it was her father had driven away many men from her and seemed to be overprotective. “We remembered all the men her father had driven away, and we knew that with nothing left, she would cling to that which had robbed her, as people will” (Faulkner 302).
During part three of the story, Emily was sick for a long time and makes a reappearance with short hair making her look tragic and serene (Faulkner 302). The town had hired contractors to repair the sidewalks. Homer Barron, the foreman of the labor operation, soon became a well-liked man around town, as he seemed to bring laughter to everyone. Shortly after coming into town, he was seen riding around with Miss Emily in a buggy. Everyone in the town seemed thrilled that she had found someone to make her happy at last. Many of the older people in the town recalled that no one had come to her father’s funeral and felt sorry for Emily, about what had happened and how she had reacted to her father’s death. This further proves that mental illness was not something talked about in the open during this time. At the end of this part of the story the reader finds Emily at the drug store for rat poison.
In part four, the people of the town began to suspect that Emily is going to commit suicide because Homer Barron, was homosexual and was often seen drinking with younger men at the Elks club in town. The ladies of the town eventually forced a Baptist minister to call upon Emily. The residents of the town were sure there would be a wedding now, as Emily had ordered men’s toiletries and gifts from the jeweler. After this, Miss Emily seems to develop severe agoraphobia; the fear of leaving one’s home, and is only seen in windows, having grown obese and grey. The only person who came and went from the home was the servant. She continued to receive tax notices that remained unclaimed. At this point, Emily has completely lost her mind, “She was only occasionally seen in the downstairs window looking through people” (Faulkner 305).
The final part of the story takes the reader to the opening of Emily’s house after over ten years of only the servant being inside. After the servant opened the house, he was never seen or heard from again. He just ran away indicating that he felt shame for what he had been hiding for all the years he had worked for Emily. He also may have left for fear of being blamed for the murder of Homer Barron, because as previously stated mental illness in the early 1900’s was very taboo, especially for a woman. The room above the stairs in Emily’s home, was a very mysterious place for the townsfolk as is hadn’t been opened in over forty years. The room was furnished as a bridal suite, and inside the toiletries of Homer Barron laid near a folded suit and shoes. The townspeople then found Homer Barron’s body lying in the bed rotted to the point where he couldn’t be removed from the mattress, “The man himself lay in the bed” (Faulkner 306). Next to him, on the recently laid upon pillow was an iron gray hair. This is the final showing of Miss Emily’s illness; she seems to have suffered from delusions and agoraphobia, as she spent forty years sleeping next to a man that she had killed.
After reading this story closely the reader comes to realize, that while the individual events on their own do not seem to out of the ordinary, looking at the big picture with all the events in order we see the slow progression of Miss Emily towards a complete mental breakdown.
Writing Process Summation
I chose this short story, because I felt it was the easiest for me to understand. I arrived at my understanding of the story after reading it a few times. I realized that the story seemed to be about the decline of Miss Emily’s mental health. I made the points that mental illnesses and degeneration were widely ignored and feared in the early 1900’s. I revised the thesis of my essay to be more definitive. I want the reader to see that mental issues were not always as widely accepted as they are today. While there are still problems with accepting them, people seem far more tolerant now than in the past.
The Significance of Dust and Decay Metaphors in Faulkner Works
Aubrey Binder’s “Uncovering the Past: The Role of Dust Imagery in a Rose For Emily’” explains that the motifs of dust and decay are very important and prominent in Faulkner’s story. Binder’s arguments for the motifs are strong, especially for the motif of dust. However, her article provides very little literary evidence for the motif of decay. While I agree with Binder’s motif of dust, I don’t agree with her arguments for the motif of decay, and I believe that the motif of pity would better fit the text.
Binder’s motif of dust is heavily supported in the text. She believes that the dust covering the objects and people in Emily’s home represents the obscuring of past events. She makes it very apparent that the dust does not change or erode the past, it simply hides it. (Binder 5) The dust provides ambiguity which helps to keep the townspeople clueless about what’s really going on inside Emily’s home. To support this statement, Binder points out that Homer Barron’s body was covered in an “even coating of the patient and biding dust.” This quote exemplifies how the dust really conceals parts of Emily’s life from the townspeople. When the townspeople found Homer’s body, it’s like the dust was being brushed away, revealing the truth of the past. The dust shows how events from the past are sometimes discovered, so the dust does not make Emily invincible from outside presence. The dust is brushed away and the past is revealed, altering Miss Emily’s life several times throughout the text. Binder provides an example of this when the government officials come to Miss Emily and tell her that she owes taxes to the town. When the officials enter Miss Emily’s home, they disturb the dust and uncover the fact that Emily does owe taxes to the town. However, Emily, disliking change, held onto Colonel Sartoris’ involved story that made her exempt from taxes.
Binder also states that other elements that aren’t actual events in the story also are affected by the dust. Binder uses the example of the continuous influence of Emily’s father even after his death. “The house filled with dust and shadows…” is a quote from the text that shows how Emily’s father influenced her life. He left her with a very small amount of money, and no husband because of his strict standards. Emily’s father made her unavailable to be wed, Binder links the psychological damage that her father inflicted on her to Homer’s murder. Emily murdered Homer so that he could never leave her. This idea was supported by the following quote from the text, “…and we all knew that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will.” Emily clinged onto Homer because he was the only thing she had left.
Binder claims that decay is a strong motif in this short story,however she hardly even mentions decay in her review. Binder states that, “The reader finds descriptions of decay in the slow degrading of the town, Emily’s inherited home, and even in the aging Emily herself.” After she describes how decay could be a motif, she goes on to explain the motif of dust but never revisits decay. The rest of Binder’s review is about how dust affected “A Rose for Emily.” Binder makes the very common literary mistake of not providing enough evidence from the text. She jumps to the conclusion that because Miss Emily and her house seem to be decaying that decay a major motif of this story. When really, the decay is more of a description about the setting and Miss Emily herself rather than a motif.
A possible motif that is well supported by literary evidence is the motif of pity and it actually plays an important role in this story. Binder touches on the topic of how the townspeople feel sorry for Emily, but she is doesn’t talk about how very important their pity is. The townspeople were always slightly pitious to the Grierson’s because of how highly they believed themselves to be, when in reality they were not. The townspeople really pitied Emily after her father died. “At last they could pity Miss Emily. Being left alone, and a pauper, she had become humanized…” When her father died, she refused to give the body up the until they threatened to use force. “We did not say she was crazy then. We believed she had to do that.” The townspeople didn’t believe that she was crazy because they knew that her relationship with her father was the only real relationship she had, so when she lost her father the townspeople felt sorry for her. After her father’s death, the town officials remitted her taxes, but to evade the obvious charity of the act, Colonel Sartoris created a story about how Emily’s father loaned money to the town and that remitting Emily’s taxes was the town’s way of repaying the loan. Another example to support the motif of pity is when Emily visits the druggist to buy some arsenic, claiming it was for killing rats. Many of the townspeople suspected that Emily was going to use the poison to kill herself, but they thought it would be ‘the best thing.”
Binder’s article, “Uncovering the Past: The Role of Dust Imagery in a ‘Rose For Emily’” is very well thought out and really captures the story, “A Rose for Emily.” Her motif of dust is supported with textual evidence and is crucial to the story. The dust in Faulkner’s story symbolizes the secrecy of Emily’s life and the unveiling of those secrets. I disagree about her arguments for decay. The element of decay is only a description in the story, however, the motif of pity is well supported by literary evidence and is a crucial element to the story.
Binder, Aubrey. “Uncovering The Past: The Role Of Dust Imagery In A ROSE FOR EMILY.” Explicator 70.1 (2012): 5-7. MasterFILE Elite. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.
Evaluation of the Topic of Transformation in William Faulkner’s Books, A Rose for Emily and Barn Burning
William Faulkner is the author of two remarkable stories, “A Rose for Emily” and “Barn Burning.” This essay is going to analyze the two novels and give a comparison on the theme of change in the two novels.
The two stories “Barn Burning” and “A Rose for Emily” are symbolic of changes in a rapidly changing society. The characters from both novels seem to be adapting from changes that are as a result of industrialization. Abner’s father and Emily have a difficult time acknowledging and dealing with with the changes that have occurred in society. As a result of them refusing to accept change, it results in friction with their neighbors.
In “A Rose for Emily,” Emily Grierson the main character is symbolic of the old views. She refuses to accept that the world she has been brought up has changed, some past traditions no longer bind it. She represents the individuals in the south who refuse to accept that change has occurred. Emily in the story cannot accept that her father is dead and this causes a lot of tensions in the community. Emily refuses to accept even natural and normal things. After the demise of Colonel Sartoris, Emily refuses to accept that he is dead. Sartoris used to exempt her from paying taxes, after his death, he still refuses to pay taxes. Just like Abner in Barn Burning, she kills the individual representing a new world order and locks herself in a room. The room is timeless, as the objects in its wall remain untouched.
In conclusion, in both stories, it is the resistance of change that gives birth to the conflict. Emily and Abner’s reluctance to accommodate other peoples opinion and rigidity makes resolution of their conflicts difficult. William Faulkner uses two individuals, one who is rich and the other poor can resist change and commit murder to maintain the status quo.
The Role Of Setting In A Rose For Emily By William Faulkner
According to Thomas C. Foster, setting plays a significant role in the structure of a narrative. Its utility is evident through the ways authors use it to lay the foundation that establishes the environment that their characters occupy. In “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner, the author takes a different perspective as his character and setting is the same thing. The exploration of this setting gives the reader a window into the character’s personality. Emily is her house as her memories and emotions are connected to the experience she has had in this house.
In A Rose for Emily Faulkner’s main protagonist is portrayed as a woman who defined herself through her earthly possessions. Faulkner narrows the view of this character as the reader encounters this character after her death. Therefore, the only way one can understand this character is through the items she lives behind after her demise. Her death opens her house to this community that is curious as they try to peel back the veil that she lived in. The exploration of this house gives these people a chance to understand this eccentric neighbor. The investigation of this house would answer the questions that these people had about Emily. Faulkner makes Emily and her house the same thing and this facilitate the deduction that she is an individual who is stuck in the past. This dedication is facilitated architecture of her house that is representative of the reality she occupied.
Faulkner narrows the view of his reader as Emily death restricts the reader from understanding Emily through her actions. The reader is forced to know Emily through her house. It’s up to the reader to use Emily’s possessions to interpret her character and personality. Emily is closed off from the community, and only after her death does they get a chance to know how she was by exploring her house. She had cut off ties from everyone after the death of her father. She became a hermit who increased her distance from this community. Miss Emily was stuck in the past when her family used to have a significant role over the functions of this town. She sees no reason to pay taxes as her father basically founded this town. Emily’s reality is affected by inability to cope with the death of her father. Therefore, her house represents this era when she had control over her life.
In A Rose for Emily William Faulkner creates a narrative that requires the reader to go on a quest in this house to understand the main protagonists. This Victorian-era house exhibits Emily’s character as Emily Grison is described as a stereotypical Southern. This house identifies the wealth and privilege that Emily enjoyed before the civil war that changed her reality. Emily becomes an outsider by refusing to accept her reality, and the location of her house exemplified her isolation from this community. Emily uses her house as a barrier from reality and the state of this house represents the state of her mind as she is stuck in the past. This house is described as dusty, dark, and shuttered, recognizing how much this isolation affected her. She is described as socially awkward and is dependent on her servant. Emily’s identity is connected to her house, the Victorian era house represents the Southern era when her father was alive, and she had an active life.
Emily’s setting is representative of what she holds, dear. She is determined to preserve the house the way it was when life made sense to her. Her house was a connection to her father, who was a man who held his family at high regards above everyone else. She lives under the standards that her father set when he was alive. Her father set standards that did not help her socialize with this community. Her abandonment issues were magnified when her boyfriend, who ran away, severing her connection to the world. Emily is seen as a shell of her former self, and this is evident through the dilapidated state of this Victorian-era house. The death of her father led to her depression and denial that made her cut all ties with this community. Therefore, an exploration of the house is an exploration of Emily.
According to Daniel Miller, our possessions are extensions of ourselves. These possessions signify our character and personality. Our possessions identify what we hold dear in our existence. Society determines our worth through our possessions that represent our social and economic status. The aspect of Consumerism is based in this process of socialization that puts meaning to our possessions. We learn to associate our possessions with the positions we occupy in our society. Consumerism gives logic to the need for personalization of one’s possessions. These possessions are uses to bring sense to ones existence as our belongings bring a sense identity and meaning. Advertisers have seen the potential that consumerism gives their trade. It has given their adverts senses as our shoes, watches, phones; clothes have become an extension of our personality.
Our belongings are associated with a sense of where we come from and who we are. Hence, our houses represent the different individuals who occupy them. It is clear that our rooms differ from the parents and children as these rooms represent our interests and motivations in life. It is evident through the manner we personalize our apartments to represent our personalities and characters. Our apartments represent our state of mind as we tend to be tidy and untidy concerning our mood and motivation. Our choices are affected by our different demographics; therefore, a lectures room will differ from doctors. Our belongings are an extension of who we are as they represent what we value in our lives.
In conclusion, as seen from the analysis in this essay, Faulkner’s narrative in A Rose for Emily represents a scenario where the exploration of the setting is an exploration of the protagonist. Emily and her house have become one as her setting is representative of her physical and psychological nature. She is determined to preserve the memory of her father though her existence. It leads to her been defined as a vestige of the Southern aristocracy that was erased by the industrial age.
- Charters, A (2015) The story and its writer: An introduction to short fiction (9th ed.) Bedford
- Faulkner W (2013) A Rose For Emily: Short Story, Harper Perennial Classics
- Foster, T. C., (2014). How to read literature like a professor. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers
- Miller D (2001) Consumption: Theory and issues in the study of consumption
- Volume 1 of Consumption: Critical Concepts in the Social Sciences, Daniel Miller, ISBN 0415242665, 9780415242660
The Psychological Criticism Of Emily In William Faulkner’s A Rose For Emily
Psychological criticism is an approach to literary criticism that interprets writings, authors, and readers through a psychological lens. This essay will perform a psychological criticism of the main protagonist from A Rose for Emily.
William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily”, Emily Grierson is a lonely old woman faced with death and her actions to satisfy her immense desire to retain her ‘love’ shows psychological issues. The story is broken into five different sections in which in each point the narrator switches point of view. The chronological order of the story deceives the reader’s perception of Emily, which enhances the horror of Emily once the truth is revealed.
Emily is at first depicted as a sad lonely old woman who has trouble after dealing with the death of her father. In the first part of the story Miss Emily has died. The funeral is taking place at her home and many people come to pay their respects and are also are curious to see the inside of the house. No one had seen the inside of the house besides the manservant for 10 years. Throughout the story we see the struggles a woman has with loneliness, depression and even necrophilia. Miss Emily’s character has many mental problems and is often compared to a woman Ms. Wyatt, who was known to be crazy. Ms. Wyatt is referenced to let it be known that psychological issues are present in the family.
We see further into the story that Emily has psychological problems when her father dies, and she tells the townspeople he is not dead. For three days his body sits in the house and only when the townspeople threaten to bring the authorities does, she let them in to retrieve the body. Emily becomes an introvert after her father’s death, until she meets Homer. He comes into her life and the townspeople are concerned about them getting married which they think is going to happen, then he suddenly disappears. Emily goes and buys arsenic and will not tell the druggist for what. Then finally at the end of the story, Homer’s body is found upstairs dead with Emily’s grey hair found on a pillow beside him. Homer was known to be gay and to not be the kind of man to marry. Emily was scared to lose Homer and killing him was her own way to retain his love forever. This is shown in the way that she still slept with him, she never lost him.
The point of view that “A Rose for Emily” is written in is very acentric. The chronology that the story is written in is very deceiving to the reader. “The chronology deliberately manipulates and delays the reader’s final judgement of Emily Grierson by altering the evidence.” “The one element that Nebeker’s study appears to ignore is motive — not Emily’s motive for killing and hiding Homer, which has been variously explored over the years through psychological, psychosexual, historical, metaphorical, and other various critical methods, but rather the narrator’s motive for presenting a text in which the clues, as Nebeker states, “are all there as early as the second section” but are presented in such a way that when we reconstruct the timeline, we can easily predict for ourselves what seems to have surprised the “we” narrator. That is, while exploring the effects of chronology on interpretation, or untangling the chronology, or setting the chronology into stylistic context, neither Nebeker’s nor any other scholar’s extant criticisms attend to why the tale is told in the chronologically convoluted way that it is.” The chronological order that the narrator uses delays the information that Emily is a killer. What is the reasoning for this, did the author want us to feel sympathetic for the lonely old woman before we learned she was a murderer? As an audience we were naïve because clues were revealed so early, such as the stench in the house. The chronological order this story is told in, sells the story, as the narrator leads up to the horrific truth the clues lead us along the way.
Another interesting and different aspect to the point of view in “A Rose for Emily” is that the narrator never truly picks a position in the story. The story is rendered in the first-person plural creating ambiguity about the identity of the narrator. The narrator could be the voice of the community as he often uses the personal pronoun “we”. He also differentiates between “we” and “they” are suggesting that its collective identity might only represent a part of the local society. This may also mean that the narrator is in fact just one person, who associates himself with the opinion and knowledge of part of the community, but not all. “Nebeker examines the complicated use of pronouns in light of the story’s timeline. As she notes, “the truth of the Miss Emily episode lies … in the identity of the narrator,” which is textually comprised of the pronouns “our” and “we,” with references to “they. Faulkner here affects one of his most ingenious narrative innovations: a first-person-plural narrator. But the narrative voice makes nothing simple: as Nebecker further notes, within all five sections, we note a continual shifting of person, from our to they to we…. Thus, in the first two sections, we have ambiguously but definably presented before us three groups — the general townspeople of the inclusive our; the they of a contemporary society functioning when Mis Emily was in her late 50s or early 60s and to whom she refuses to pay taxes; and the they of an earlier group.”
“A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner is a short story with the main character Emily who has psychological issues with the loss of her father. The chronological order of the story eventually reveals that she secretly murders her lover, so that she will never lose him. She sleeps by his skeletal corpse until her own death. The chronological order and the ambiguity of the narrator makes the story even more interesting. The way the story is told severely changes the interpretation of Emily.
- Getty, Laura J. “Faulkner’s a Rose for Emily” The Explicator. 64.3 (2005): 230. Gale. Web. 3 Oct. 2011
- https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00144940509596951. n.d.
- Melczarek, Nick. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00144940903250144?scroll=top&needAccess=true. 2009. 2019.
- Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily.” Literature: Reading Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Ed. Robert DiYanni. 6th ed. New York: McGraw Hill, 2008. 79-84. Print.
Comparative Analysis Of Barn Burning And A Rose Of Emily By William Faulkner
William Faulkner stands out as one of the remarkable authors in the contemporary society with a focus on short stories as well as novels. Some of his pieces that almost every English student likes is “A Rose of Emily” as well as the “Barn Burning.” The thematic aspect of these articles being the social life depicted by the southern people. Also, there is the struggle they undergo at different instances. The use of a dramatic context in the stories is vital in fostering empathy. The ability to create the feeling makes it possible for the audience to place themselves in the shoes of the southern town. The ability to develop a sense of sympathy in both stories brings a greater understanding of correlation. Moreover, there exist similarities and differences in the stories regarding their contexts. Ideally, the aspects make them unique as well as entertaining.
The first thing under consideration is the social life of those in the Southern. That is inclusive of the struggle depicted in the two pieces. According to the “Barn Burning,” the use of Yaknapatawpha, which is a town in Mississippi is imaginary in illustrating major concepts relating to the struggle. On the other side, there is the utilization of Jefferson township, which is the center of focus in “A Rose for Emily.” In the “Barn Burning,” there exists a small boy more of in a dilemma striving to express loyalty to the community and the family. On the other hand, there is a feeling of unpleasantness, sympathy as well as awkwardness during the discovery of a longtime residence in Jefferson town. The fact that Emily kept sleeping with dead bodies is threatening and represent an aspect of a cult.
The stories present a significant aspect, whereby people with different lives can work together to solve the problems. There exists a sort of algorithm in sorting these issues, leading to the element of communism. At one instance, people will strive to create their world to solve some challenges. The process is never appealing and might make individuals lose the societal ties. The old, as well as the new industrial periods, experienced a wide range of transformation and the two stories act an accurate representation. Abner, as well as Emily’s father, can undoubtedly attest the challenges in the society, and they had to use all the possible means to adapt and survive in such environments. In the two stores, the protagonists strive to resist change, and the end is always murder as well as the destruction of property. Even though the plot might be the same in specific ways, there is also a lot of dissimilarity in the aspect that Abner was from a humble background. Emily was from the different side of the financial edge. Even though these characters were divergent on the element of social class, they still had the same problems, and their ways of solving such issues also remained the same to some extent. Symbolisms is an aspect that dominates “A Rose for Emily.” The use of Grierson was to depict the old views dominating the story. It is evident that she constantly disagrees with the old age of life as well as the restrictions that result due to the old tradition. The elements of the old South `keep dragging civilization, and that limits success in some ways’.
The North presented a commendable pace and the use of “A Rose for Emily” denotes all the struggles that people from the south experience while trying to cope and implement modernization. The society dictates some things, and the two stories outline the influence of the father. Emily could not date, and that resulted for the thirst for love as well as security. The death of Emily’s father signified freedom. Meeting Homer Barron seemed the end of life for her. On the contrary, there was Sarty father. Continually burning down other people properties proves lack of loyalty. However, the son later embraces the community and was willing to use all the available resources to give back to the society. From the analogy, it is evident that Barron symbolized the new generation. The ability to remain rigid is the reason for his death. Men should marry at a particular instance, a fact that Homer failed to embrace. That resulted to his untimely death.
In conclusion, William managed to provide a systematic plot for the two stories. Still, there is the symbolic significance regarding people’s thoughts in times of danger as well as other natural calamities. The use of Abner and Emily presents a clear analogy of the two paradigms of life. Emily was from a wealthy family and managed to share problems with a person from a humble background. Even though the issues had a different scope, they led to use similar ways in solving their problems. The only daunting aspect is the problem-solving techniques that proved ineffective. Any problem-solving technique should offer a better solution. To the contrary, the methods depicted by Abner as well as Emily adds more misery. That is not how a problem-solving solve emerge. Still, the society should be dynamic and embrace change for the sake of the future generation.