Literary Analysis with 7 sources on William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily

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The representation of death and decay, involving the house, the town, and Emily herself are shown through her relationships with the male characters of the story. Emily symbolizes the victimized generation in South America after the civil war. She also stands as a metaphor of changes in womanhood and the society. This paper is a critical appreciation of the story. The central character in the story, Emily Grierson, stands as a symbol, representing a tradition. She is given the responsibility of upholding that tradition. The unknown narrator in the story calls her a fallen monument. Faulkner deliberately takes a woman to represent a fading tradition. Her emotions are shaped by her community which is responsible for creating such female victims. As Abby H. P. Weslock has written in her brief note on feminism, A feminist critique, however, reveals Emily as a casualty of patriarchy and literally of her own father and lover (Abby 245). She is both an idol and a victim because she is admired for keeping the tradition and also victimized for doing her duty. At the surface level, the story is about death, murder, and the changes in the social conditions during a transition period in America. However, at the bottom level, the theme is love and passion. Emily very desperately needs a man. Her passions were suppressed by the conventions of her society in which she lived, and she had absolutely no control over the situations. The narrator comments that even with insanity in the family she wouldn’t have turned down all of her chances if they had really materialized (Faulkner). The only white light in her life is seen when Baron steps in, but that too does not last. The denial of this only chance drives her into insanity, turning her into a murderer. We remembered all the young men her father had driven away, points out the narrator (Faulkner). Emily, therefore, lives as a representative of those who made her pace between social obligations and physical passion. She is a fine example showing how one’s passions turn into psychic illness. In short, her case is that of necrophilia. The attitudes of the people in the town serves as a contrast to Emily’s options in her life: she is a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town (Faulkner). In other words, the attitudes of the people are patriarchal. Emily lives an isolated life, no visitor had passed since she ceased giving china-painting lessons eight or ten years earlier (Faulkner). It is important to note that her miseries are not the result of her actions in life. In fact, she has no choice to act. The imagery used by the narrator to show the quantum of her isolation is: She looked bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water (Faulkner). The story can, therefore, be called a sexist text, because, basically it deals with the victimization of female sex. However, the narrator remains neutral to the old and new attitudes, leaving the readers to decide who wins, whether man or Emily. Robert Crosman observes that If there is a battle between the sexes in A Rose for Emily, the reader must decide who wins (Robert 361). Faulkner thus very cleverly involves the readers too with his skilful narrative techniques for judging Emily’s actions in the old mansion. A second closer look at how the tradition of patriarchy has made her insane is imperative. The story, A Rose for Emily