Analysis of ‘A Rose for Emily’
‘A Rose for Emily’ by William Faulkner is a Gothic tragedy that features the death of an old lady ‘Emily Grierson’ and her story narrated by an ambiguous narrator, which creates both suspense and anxiety required to understand the grief of the Lady life. The story delivers not just sadness but many other emotions like, frustration, shame and confusion.
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Emily is a bizarre character who trapped herself in a world of delusion after the death of her father and especially after the betrayal by Homer Barron, the man who was supposed to marry her. When Emily got withdrawn from the society, the only man remained in her life was her servant Tobe a black, expressionless man who talked nothing about her to the community. Her condition and behavior towards the world may be termed as ‘mental illness’ but it is noticeable that nowhere in the story she is called ‘crazy’ instead she is sympathized by the ladies of her community as ‘poor Emily, which suggest that there was some injustice made to her that caused her described state. (Kelly, 2007)
Change is very essential to anything and everything in life, whether at personal level or in terms of social thoughts past should not become the future. Past should remain in the past. Through the conversation made in the story about Emily, it is derived that her father over protected her from getting engaged to people specially men. That is why even at the elder age she remained unmarried. Her father was a southern man with an old school of thought and he made Emily a victim of his thought leaving her a long in the surrounding of people with the same thoughts as he had.
It is a requirement to move ahead with time, people who do not follow the concept disturb there life themselves, and also affect people related to them. It is not very back in time when the head of the families treated there family as their property just to retain the class they belong to or to protect their so called status.
Every individual has dreams of his future, for example, a girl like Emily growing up may be dreaming of getting married, having her on family. When such dreams are not fulfilled at the right time they cause destruction within. For living not only food and air is important, but a reason to live keeps a person living. And when life has broken dreams it becomes difficult to trust someone. Emily was not close to anyone in the community because of the same reason. Her personality lacks the reason to live. Another effect of the factor is not letting go with you get. Homer Barron came to Emily life as treasure she never let go even after killing him, she did not even let go his dead body, the same way she was not letting go her father. When she seems to realize Homer would not marry her she killed him and locked his dead body in a room. Homer was a northern man with the new school of thought the concept of marriage for such people is of a trap and nothing else.
Here the clash of modern and postmodern tradition also exists. Emily lived her life under the postmodern supervision of her father, who with a fear of being alone did not let her go. She was even more backward then the community she lived in. the isolation she formed around her made her more complex. Then the burden of maintaining the prestige of her father made her even worse. While Homer was a free man who travelled due to his work, his thoughts were very open as compare to Emily. He hang out with her was so very normal to him, but for the women he was time passing was greedy for love and company. For her it was the matter of life and death and she proved it to.
Every human is a slave to his desires, but only a strong head could stay away. In this story by Faulkner every character seems weak at the hand of their desires, whether it Emily, her father, the town ladies or Homer. All want things molding according to what they want.
Not even Emily cousin or other relative seem faithful to her. This is one of the big dilemmas of our society that families don’t support the ones who need them. Considering others at the time of need and not considering them when they need you, lead to such situations. Sometimes even parents betray their children, escaping from the reality, using them at the of race, class and tradition. Every individual have the right to live there own life, feel happy and most importantly independence at least to some extent if not fully.
The concept of gender difference is another issue ‘poor Emily’ as termed in the story may have. If she was a man things would have been different for her, she would have never reached the state she reached to. She was a dependant individual, even when she withdrew from the society
She kept a servant, a strong male. About the servant it is amazing that he was the only one of the three men in her life who did not betray her, did not talked about her and kept her secrets secret.
The mental illness is the cause of uncertainty in life, Emily life was completely uncertain; there was nothing that was normal that ever happen in whatever was said about her. But despite everything her facial expressions were expressed in terms of aging. They seemed more dead than alive. (Fetterley, 1978)
The theme of the story is tragic and frightening; it a lesson for those who try to control other person life making it a tragedy. Whether on individual levels or within the society while protecting self identity, do not let go the identities of those related to you.
The author protects Emily despite killing a man, because of the mental state. She did what she did because of what happened to her. There are many such cases that accuse people without finding out why they have done what they did. A criminal is not born as a criminal, but the happenings around him, the environment that he lived in, the consequences which affected him make him one.
‘A Rose for Emily’ is actually a tribute to her. Through the story the author gives the reason behind the tragedy. He explains what leads people to frustrate to an extent that their lives become meaningless and even regardless to those who do not care.
People talking should never be given importance. The pain one bears only he can get to know what it feels. People talk on the way one lives and they talk on how one died so it hardy matter what they say. One of the reasons Emily isolated herself may be the buzzing of the people around her, also she would have wanted no visitors at her home.
The story clearly indicates the importance of change required at the right time. The world moves on and everyone should move with it, those who stick to the past remain behind teasing those who wants to move on. Traditions should be made and changed according to time, and they should be made for people instead of making people according to traditions. Human should have only one race and class and that is ‘human’. The tragedy of Emily is not only restricted to the story and does not ends here, it provides a school of thought to the reader to understand where is mistake, omit and improve, and let such characters not to be formed.
1. Kelly, J., The Seagull Reader: Stories. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2007.
2. Fetterley, J., The Resisting Reader: A Feminist Approach to American Fiction. U. S: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1978. ‘A Rose for Emily’ PAGE\* MERGEFORMAT 6