A rose for Emily Essay

William Faulkner, who belonged to a southern family, was born in 1897 and grew up in Mississippi. He was associated to air force during the First World War. Later on he worked for news for a while but found the pleasure of writing in his short stories and novels.(William.) Faulkner is considered as the most renowned author of southern tales throughout America. He is considered as one of the accomplished writer of twentieth century. His books got recognition through his famous tale “The sound and the fury”. Though he published his books since the year 1919 but in the year 1949 he received Noble Prize and gained the worldwide publicity. He also won the Pulitzer Prize for “Fable” and “The Reivers”. Faulkner started writing for material gains as he did not belong to a wealthy family he struggled his way through hard work and voracious reading. Skills of writing can be learnt but ways to pore your thoughts into words can be a gift from God. Faulkner depicted the social and moral connections between present and past. Most of his stories have an element of southern culture or link themselves to ethical aspects. As he was a survivor, witness and victim of world war, he portrayed his stories with the background of civil war and slavery. His books always had a flare of southern element in them. Faulkner stories contained the tragic part more sturdily than the adequate ending. He was a firm believer of southern values. Due to change in socio economical conditions people began to adapt them. Faulkner however wasn’t convinced to see the fall of those values exchanged by the new ones. The passion and never ending energy through which Faulkner wrote without financial security in the era of depressing war, his series of achievements contain As I lay dying, Light in August, Absalom, Absalom.(John)

A rose for Emily, written by William Faulkner, tells the life story of a woman who had gone through complicated phases of life which she had to endure.(William) She showed acceptance in her youth to accept norms and customs taught by his father but after maturity she practiced the same values showing none flexible attitude to change and to accept change as large. Emily represented the resistance of decayingold southern values. The story mainly revolves around one character Emily Grierson, a young lady who lived all her life with her father. Her father was a proud man who believed that he was higher in status and superior to all the people in town, endowing the same beliefs to his daughter. The world of Emily revolved around her father and she was shattered when he died and she went into solitude. The town people felt sorry for her after the death of her father. They were curious about her way of living and they kept a close watch on Emily.

“When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one save an old man-servant—a combined gardener and cook—had seen in at least ten years.”(Faulkner.)

She again suffered a major blow when she got close to a newcomer in town known as Homer Borron who refused to marry her. But she found out her own way to deal with the situation and poisoned him and kept his body with her for thirty years. This was discovered in the end when she died and his body was found in her house. This shows her psychologically disturbed inclination towards past and the dead. Even if her father overpowering control over her beliefs and ideology or her isolation after his death causes this inclination, it was clearly a pathological scenario.The story “A Rose for Emily” presents Emily as a very stubborn lady who lives her life in her own way and finds her own ways to deal with situations. She constructs her own modes and methods to lead her life and does not care about the restrictions of society. This can be seen when Emily refuses to pay the taxes

“Her voice was dry and cold. “I have no taxes in Jefferson. Colonel Sartoris explained it to me. Perhaps one of you can gain access to the city records and satisfy yourselves.””

“But we have. We are the city authorities, Miss Emily. Didn’t you get a notice from the sheriff, signed by him?”


“I received a , yes,” Miss Emily said. “Perhaps he considers himself the sheriff . . . I have no taxes in Jefferson.”(Volpe)

And the stubbornness she shows towards the pharmacist when she asks for arsenic without a prescription and does not abide by the rules. She also poisons Homer Barron when he refuses to marry her to keep him with her. This is against the norms of the society but she has her own way of living. Emily refuses to move forward in life but wanted to stop the time or preferred to move backwards which was very unnatural and the author shows the extent of her theory by her gruesome bridal chamber which also required the sacrifice of a human life. Emily defies the idea of death by exerting power on the dead. She preserves the body of her beloved in order to keep him near her. Just like her after her father who was still alive in her mind in the form of his lurid ideas and she clings completely and intensely on those beliefs. Author tries to fuse both life and death in her character. Emily was actually in love with her dead past (Volpe,2004). Author suggested that the rose in the story was actually Homer, who just like a rose was present in a book, was the relic and reminder of Emily past.(Faulkner.)

Emily also refuses to install metallic numbers outside her house when the town receives modern mail service. Isolation is a theme which can be found in his stories of William Faulkner. Same is the case with Emily who has been living in isolation because she was never allowed to interact with the people living in the town. The character underwent a change because of the isolation she was living in and couldn’t withstand the isolation after a time period. Even her house had the stagnant state of disuse and dust as if time has stopped in her house as well and the dust of deep regrets and sorrows remain where they lay.

The character is stubborn in her language and can be witnessed in her actions respectively. The story was based in the southern region and revolves somewhat around the traditions(Kobler). A rose for Emily is a story revolving around the past. Emily was always secluded from other people and she believed in traditions as taught to her by her father. She manages to resist and rejects the modernization taking place around her and nurtures the old ideas and believes which many of the people around her considered bizarre(Burton.). None of them actually knew her and all of their ideas were based on gossips and mere theories. But actual nature of Emily was hidden in a kind of mysterious dust. Even after her father death she does not interact much with the people of the town. She rejects all the ideologies of the modern world and lived by her own will. It is clearly seen in the story that Emily is against modern techniques when she rejects to have a mailbox outside her house. She believed in the past and the traditions lay down by her father and ancestors. Emily father can be blamed for the stubbornness found in Emily. The discrimination brought to her by her father had a negative impact on her whole life. But the courage shown by Emily in the story can be highly acknowledged as she showed bravery to cope up with the unfairness brought to her by life.

William Faulkner puts the theme of the fall of old south and the emergence of new south in all of his stories with different circumstances. It is seen that many characters in the story are trying to either withdraw the old southern values or to adapt the new southern values and traits. Some of them are however are successful while some are not. Similarly Emily is also not able to change and with her rejection from Homer because of which she decides to kill him the stories has a theme of some what unwanted isolation and lack of flexibility to adapt change which helps one to understand the characters well. William Faulkner sets the story on the lives of the southern people who were facing from civil war dilemma and trying to act according to reduce hurdles through adapting change in the society.William Faulkner portrayed the distinguishing qualities of south through various characters of the story. Thus believing in the old traditions and traits, it seems like he wished to save them. Respect of women by men in olden times, is his message to all. Faulkner believed men should take care of women thus negating the concept of new south which persisted on the concept that women should work equally. Circumstances play vital role in developing a negative personality which affects society in large. A rose for Emily shows the decay of town, house and Emily herself. (Nebeker,1970)

Work Cited:

Helen E. Nebeker. The Bulletin of the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association

Vol. 24, No. 1 (Mar., 1970), pp. 3-13 

(article consists of 11 pages)


Anya.”Association of young journalist and writers”

http://www.ayjw.org/articles.php?id=533920Burton R. Pollin Cuny.2006

http://naesten.dyndns.org:8080/college/2006/research-/faulkners-rose.pdfKobler, J. F., FAULKNER’S A ROSE FOR EMILY ,Explicator 32:8 (1974:Apr.) p.0

Kobler J. F.,North Texas State University, 1974: AprilWilliam Faulkner – Biography.” Nobelprize.org. Web. 22 May 2011.

http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1949/faulkner-bio.htmlTop of Form

Volpe, Edmond L. A Reader’s Guide to William Faulkner: The Short Stories. Syracuse, N.Y: Syracuse University Press, 2004. Print.John B. Padget . ” The Missippi Writers Page”, William Faulkner on the Web

http://www.olemiss.edu/mwp/dir/faulkner_william/William Faulkner.” A Rose for Emily”. Story

http://xroads.virginia.edu/~drbr/wf_rose.htmlVideo interview sources:



W Bottom of Form

here did you get this interview? Where is it used in the research ?

Q: why was Miss Emily “described as a fallen monument”?

Ans: Emily is described as a woman who induced death upon herself even when she was living. She defied death when she had a life and slowly gave into it when she got frustrated of the tiresome solitude all around her. She is not considered as a noble lady while living but after her death when Homer body was found she is even considered senile or a gruesome character.

Q: what is “the rose” symbolizing in a rose for Emily?

Ans: Author has given many hidden indications and meaning by naming the story “A rose for Emily”

It could be either taken as “sub rosa” which literally means under the rose but it is taken as the symbol of secrecy for example in some of the private meetings rose is hung on the door or walls to indicate the privacy of the meeting . As in case of “A rose for Emily “, a rose might indicate the secretive nature of the Emily, she was the gossip of the town because she was mysterious not sinister, at least not until they knew the darkest secret f her life” a skeleton in the closet”.the other meaning rose can give is Homer himself might be the dead dried rose in one of rose books and he might be the actual rose the author was referring while naming the story.

Q: In your opinion was Emily realy a victim of psychological disorder or she was just a very proud lady ditched by the society?

Ans: even we talk about extreme human reactions out of jealousy or anger , in no way murdering the other person can be justified by stating it as “a reaction”it is a very serious consequence, even if the person justifies his logic by showing love or care to the corpse. That ridiculous but not in anyway logical

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