William Faulkners A Rose for Emily

William Faulkners A Rose for Emily

The Reason the main character, Emily Grierson, in William Faulkners A Rose for Emily murdered her lover, Homer Barron, was a combined contribution of the society she lived in. The cousins snootiness and high expectations of the Grierson family legacy made it difficult for Emily and Homer to be together as a couple. The two female cousins were more Grierson than Miss Emily had ever been. (5) The cousins would keep Emily in line because they were more aristrocatic, therefore forcing Emily into keeping the family name pure by not eing with a labor worker who often got drunk and liked men.

The cousins had a talk with Emily, which drove Homer out for a short period of time. For fear of Homer leaving her, she ventured to the local pharmacy to purchase arsenic (then used as rat poison) for what she believed might be the only way to keep the man she loved from leaving her. Emilys father scared all her suitors away, believing that she was too good for all of them, which in turn left her single at a very old age. Emilys over-possessive, father traumatized her into believing that she would be alone all of her life.

The Patrimony of a man destroys Emily as her father smothers her with over-protectiveness. He prevents her from courting anymore (Internet 1). Her father never gave her the opportunity of a happy, joyful family life, which every person deserves. Her father never gave her the opportunity of a happy, joyful family life, which every person deserves. When her father died and she found someone she liked, she instantly became attached to this man and was not willing to let him go. Emily decides she will be vindictive, she will have her man(Internet 2).

Emily chose the first man possible in a sort of way to lash back at the father who never allowed her to have what she desired the most, companionship. With her father now deceased, she had complete freedom in choosing and keeping any suitor she found acceptable. Having never had the opportunity, Emily had no concept of how to treat and be a companion to the opposite sex. This would explain the unbreakable attachment to the first man who came along, Homer Barron. In a way she took what she could get at that moment thinking that there might never be nother chance for her again, therefore she settled for Homer Barron.

All of the towns pity, gossip, and assumptions about Emily and her family brought on more stress and insanity about keeping the Grierson name aristocratic and clean. In essence, she was living up to the family standards set by that of her local society. Her father and the townsfolk that see her as an untouchable idol perpetrate this dementia; the loneliness that they force her to endure is maddening (Internet 1). At times the town felt sorrow for her and had thoughts of consoling her but never actually put them into action. They always let her endure everything she was suffering on her own.

Although they no longer had any reason to be, the women of the town still felt a pang of jealousy towards her family aristocracy and history. The women, to satisfy their own consciences, acted as if they actually felt sympathy for Emily, where in all honesty, not a single one cared for her in any way. The town merely wanted to put up a false front. Homer Baron, who was very inconsiderate and casual about her past, contributed to his own murder. Homer Barron was a bi-sexual, Yankee, runk who was going to leave her after he had his way with her.

She knew this from the towns gossip and she was growing more and more insecure about Homer. We can imagine, however the outcome might have been had Homer Barron, who was not the marrying man, succeeded, in the towns eyes, in seducing her and then deserting her. (Short Story criticisms 150) Homer was seen drinking at the bar with men and it was known that he was interested in men. Homer was never really intending to stay long term with Emily. He was just a passer by who was only there for road construction.

And when she lost him she could see that for her that was the end of life, there was nothing left except to grow older, alone, solitary. (Internet 2) The thing she feared the most was being alone with no companion. Emily had endured all of this from her father too long and she was not going to stand for this. Emilys Insanity and loneliness drove her to murder her lover and keep him in a room where she could rest at ease that he would never leave her. Denied a normal Romantic and sexual life, Emily becomes unable to distinguish between reality and illusion (Modern fiction stories 687).

She was to the point where to her having a dead lover was more secure to her than having a live one who might leave her at any moment. She wanted security and she obtained it by killing Homer and sleeping with him every night. She wanted to keep time still. Emily had a problem with time. Emilys small room above the stairs has become that timeless meadow. In it, the living Emily and the dead Homer have remained together not even death could separate them. (Short Story Criticism 150) Even when her father died she was unwilling to accept his departure. She refused to have him buried.

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William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily

William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily

Only when the present has become the past can we reflect on what we could have or should have done. Yet our society is so obsessed with keeping track of time that we spend millions of dollars a year to keep a set of atomic clocks ticking the time. These clocks are so accurate that they must be reset once a year to correct for the earth’s imperfect orbit. Our base-60 measure of time is an abstract idea dating from the Babylonians. All this, and what most human minds intrinsically understand about time is the past, present and future. I say most inds, because not every mind does comprehend these abstract ideas.

Many people are able to survive in the present, but give little or no thought to the future, and these people usually live in the past. Such a mind is the mind of Miss Emily Grierson in William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily. Emily Grierson survives in the present, but lives in the past. The morbid ending is foreshadowed by the story’s opening with Miss Emily Grierson’s death and funeral. The bizarre outcome is further emphasized throughout by the symbolism of the decaying house, which arallels Miss Emily’s physical deterioration and demonstrates her ultimate mental disintegration.

Her life, like the house which decays around her is a direct result of living in the past. Part of living is death, and the future conjures life, the past, and death. Emily’s imbalance of past and present causes her to confuse the living with the dead. Perhaps the most prominent example of Emily’s confusion is the carcass of Homer Barron lying in the honeymoon room of Emily’s house. This division is exemplified by the symbolic imagery of Faulkner. The rose colored room, a color of life, is covered thickly with dust, a symbol of death. Of course, this is not the first time we learn of Emily’s confusion.

Previous to Barron’s discovery, her father dies, and she denies that he is dead. Faulkner gives the reader a taste of this confusion early on when Miss Emily instructs the town tax-collectors to consult with Colonel Sartoris about her taxes, though he had been dead for ten years. At this foreboding point in the story, Emily seems to be a senile old maid; this could not be further from the truth. The external characteristics of Miss Emily’s house parallel her physical appearance to show the transformation brought about by years of neglect.

For example, the house is located in what was once a prominent neighborhood that has deteriorated. Originally white and decorated in “the heavily lightsome style” of an earlier time, the house has become “an eyesore among eyesores”. Through lack of attention, the house has evolved from a beautiful representative of quality to an ugly holdover from another era. Similarly, Miss Emily has become an eyesore; for example, she is first described s a “fallen monument”, to suggest her former grandeur and her later grotesqueness. Like the house, she has lost her beauty.

Once she had been “a slender figure in white”; later she is obese and “bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water with eyes lost in the fatty ridges of her face”. Both house and occupant have suffered the ravages of time and neglect. The interior of the house also parallels Miss Emily’s increasing degeneration and the growing sense of sadness that accompanies such decay. Initially, all that can be seen of the inside of the house is “a dim all from which a staircase mounted into still more shadow” with the house smelling of “dust and disuse”.

The darkness and the smell of the house connect with Miss Emily, “a small, fat woman in black” with a voice that is “dry and cold” as if it were dark and dusty from disuse like the house. The similarity between the inside of the house and Miss Emily extends to the “tarnished gilt easel” with the portrait of her father and Miss Emily “leaning on an ebony cane with a tarnished gold head”. Inside and out, both the building and the body in which Miss Emily live are in a state f deterioration like tarnished metal. Finally, the townspeople’s descriptions of both house and occupant reveal a common intractable arrogance.

At one point the house is described as “stubborn” as if it were ignoring the surrounding decay. Similarly, Miss Emily proudly overlooks the deterioration of her once grand residence. This motif recurs as she denies her father’s death, refuses to discuss or pay taxes, ignores town gossip about her being a “fallen woman,” and does not tell the druggist why she is purchasing arsenic. Both the house and Miss Emily become traps for that strongest epresentative of the twentieth century, Homer Barron, laborer, outsider, confirmed bachelor.

Just as the house seems to reject progress and updating, so does Miss Emily, until both of them become decaying anachronisms. Through descriptions of the house that resemble descriptions of Miss Emily Grierson, “A Rose for Emily” emphasizes the way that beauty and elegance can become grotesquely distorted through neglect and lack of love. In this story, the house deteriorates for forty years until it becomes ugly; Miss Emily’s physical and emotional condition dissipate in a similar manner.


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