A Rose for Emily essay


A Rose for Emily is a very special story written by William Faulkner, an outstanding personality who managed to describe the American South in his stories. In the work under consideration the author touches upon the topics which are of great importance for the age, he describes the race and gender burning points, which were later thoroughly studied and analyzed by literary critics. Faulkner created a mythical town ofJefferson and a character of an eccentric lady who had strange attitude to her father, lover and life on the whole, she hides a secret which later becomes evident. It is considered that William Faulkner’s Emily is an image of his willful mother, who greatly influenced the writer.


According to Celia Rodriguez’s judgment in the story the past is a certain contrast to the present time. Miss Emily somehow lives in the past and tries to take her Colonel and servant to her time. As Barron makes an attempt to run away from her, she kills him to make him stay together with her. Miss Emily is scared; she does not want to be critically discussed by the citizens, as their opinion is important for her dignity, her self-esteem.


To a certain extent, she was a victim of prejudice, gender stereotypes as she is put into position of “lady”. According to Judith Fetterley, the stereotype created by society of the time is used in her own interests, she enjoys her female role as many of her actions are explained by her female nature, from gender differences aspect. The aldermen who came to her concluded that she is not logic in her behavior and can not be sober-minded because she is a lady. That is why Emily refuses to pay taxes, she retorts to the aldermen: “I have no taxes inJefferson. Colonel Sartoris explained it to me”¦see Colonel Sartoris”. She asked them to talk to Sartoris but he had died many years ago. She expresses her female nature as good as possible, plays her part. Concerning the gender peculiarities of the story’s image of the Negro, one may say that the attitude to him is also prejudiced, the narrator points out the reason of untidiness of the house, these words are uttered with reproach by the local ladies: “Just as if a man ”“ any man ”“ could keep a kitchen properly”.


The smell has a symbolic sense in the story; no one gets suspicious about the mysterious reason of that stench. And again gentlemen can not accuse a lady of this because it does not become one to behave like that. So the judge wondered: “Will you accuse a lady to her face of smelling bad?”. Emily had to overcome the death of a person who was dear and close to her, that is how the gentlemen explain her odd manners and the situation with her house on the whole. By the way, after her father’s death “it got about that the house was all that was left to her”.


Eric Knickerbocker mentioned in his article “The Faded Rose of Emily” that Faulkner uses a shadowy language, describes the effects of the time, “the nature of the old and the new”. Faulkner uses characterization and chronology as important literary methods. Though the narrator is not named, he describes every detail of the story in a special chronological order with deep psychological insight into the nature of the phenomenon of time and gender nature.

The narrator’s point of view seems to be the entire point of the town, where Emily lives. He seems to coexist with the last of Grierson, Emily who “had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town”¦”. Narrator tells the story as though everyone knew everything about all citizens of the town. The writer includes here the pronoun “we” which firstly indicates the narrator. He tells of her house which is the best pattern of decay, which contains a definite mystery. The unknown narrator tries to say to the reader that one misfortune leads to another one, that Barron humiliated her and all this is a hard blow for such a tender female nature such as Emily.

Homer Barron “himself had remarked ”“ he liked men”, had a kind of mental disorder and this was a tragedy for “poor Emily”, as she was called several times in the story considered. So she suffers because of her outlook.


Though underlining the female nature of Emily, the narrator points out that still despite the fact she was never seen in the streets, for about half a year, she inherited some father’s traits of character, “her woman’s life so many times had been too virulent and too furious to die”. In Notes on Mississippi Writers Frank A. Littler remarks, that A Rose for Emily  is  read “variously as a Gothic horror tale, a study in abnormal psychology, an allegory of the relations between North and South, a meditation on the nature of time, and a tragedy with Emily as a sort of tragic heroine” (Littler 76).

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