A Rose for Emily is a southern gothic short story about an elderly women stuck in her ways. When we are first introduced to Emily it is at her funeral where the entire town has come to falsely pay their respects. The men are only there because they viewed Emily as a fallen monument and the women are there to peer inside a house that has been closed up to the world for decades. Through-out the story the narrator gradually describes Emily’s decent into madness and her unwillingness to accept the change happening around her. The central theme of A Rose for Emily focuses on the never ending battle between tradition and change, which is expertly portrayed by William Faulkner’s use of setting, symbolism and character.
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William Faulkner chose a time period that was crucial for America. During the post-civil war era the fight between tradition and change was still prevalent amongst Americans, especially between the Confederate and Union soldiers. However, the time period isn’t the focus of the setting just the foundation for Emily’s small town in Mississippi where everyone knew each other and gossip was rampant among the people. Emily’s neighborhood and house are two other examples of setting that Faulkner uses to develop his theme. The narrator describes Emily’s neighborhood as once being the selected street to live where all of the august names once lived. However, they died out, leaving only Emily, which turned the once most prestigious neighborhood into a pigsty. Where the rest of the town was advancing and changing Emily refused to accept the changes surrounding her. This can be seen in paragraph 50 where the narrator remarks “When the town got free postal delivery Miss Emily alone refused to let them fasten the metal numbers above her door and attach a mail box it (Faulkner 521).” When it comes to gothic fiction, houses are usually the central focus of setting and Miss Emily’s house is no different. Emily’s house is described as a “big squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires (Faulkner Pg, 516).” The narrator even goes on to say that Emily’s house is “lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps-an eyesore among eyesores (Faulkner, Pg 516).” Emily’s unacceptance of change is shown in these passages by her not keeping up the appearance of her house. While Emily’s house is a great example of setting depicting tradition vs change, it is an even better example of symbolism showcasing the struggle between tradition and change.
Symbolism is artfully crafted throughout A Rose for Emily with Emily’s house, death and Emily herself being the three most prominent examples. Emily’s house symbioses a time capsule, a place forever unchanging and untouched my time. Within her time capsule Emily can live in a timeless, unchanging world where death does not exist. Death is strategically used to as a symbol for change throughout the story from the very beginning at Emily’s funerals to the very end when the townspeople discover Homer Barron’s body in the upstairs bedroom. Death was the only change Emily couldn’t not fight, but that didn’t stop her from accepting its ever present presence in her life. The first become aware of this when Emily initially refuses to admit the death of her over-bearing father. She was stating multiple times to the townspeople who came to console her that her father was not dead. In the end the reader gets a final and a disturbing understanding of Emily’s denial of death with the skeletal body of Emily’s possible suitor Homer Barron lying on a bed dressed in a suit and placed beside him on a people was a single strand of Miss Emily’s hair. Lastly, Emily herself is the living embodiment of tradition. Emily is referred to as a monument in the first paragraph, also, in paragraph three the narrator states, “Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town.” William Faulkner didn’t just use Emily as a symbol of tradition, he also used her character illustrate the constant struggle between those of tradition and those of change.
William Faulkner's A Rose for Emily Essay examples
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William Faulkner's A Rose for Emily
I. Implied author of the story
„A Rose for Emily”, a story of horror first published in 1930, is considered by many scholars one of the most authentic and the best narratives ever written by William Faulkner. It is a story of a woman, Emily Grierson, and her relationships with her father, the man she was in love with and the community of Jefferson, the town she lived in.
While discussing any narrative text it is crucial to mention the implied author of a text. As Wayne C. Booth, the most famous follower of the Chicago School believed, it is possible and acceptable to “interpret and criticize the narrative worlds of literary works without stepping beyond the limits of the text and falling…show more content…
It may be also the symbol of a true, reciprocated love which Emily never experienced, even though she probably dreamt about it for her entire life.
The rose in the title is not the only symbol in the story, though. There are others, which play equally important roles in the narrative, as their task is to let readers get to know the protagonist from the only possible point of view: the external one. This issue will be discussed in more details in the remaining chapters of this work; however it needs to be mentioned that throughout the entire story, readers never come to know Miss Emily Grierson’s thoughts and feelings. They rather come to certain conclusions about her, thanks to the subtle clues which the implied author leaves for them to discover.
Such a clue may be, for example, the crayon portrait of Emily’s father, standing near the fireplace on the day of her funeral, as it stood thirty days earlier, symbolizing Miss Grierson’s unwillingness to let go of the past, to leave the authority of her father behind, to forget about the only man who had such a great influence on her life and to be truly alive for once.
Another symbol providing readers with valid information about the protagonist is the Grierson’s family home. In a very interesting way the reader is presented with an image of a house which immediately brings to mind its occupant, Miss Emily:
“It was a big, squarish frame