Essay, Research Paper: Rose For Emily

Literature: Charles Dickens

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Thesis: As any reader can see, “A Rose for Emily” is one of the most
authentic short stories by Faulkner. His use of characterization, narration,
foreshadowing, and symbolism are four key factors to why Faulkner’s work is
idealistic to all readers. Introduction Short biographical description. William
Faulkner “A Rose for Emily” Characterization Emily as the protagonist. The
townspeople. Comparison to Mrs. Havisham. Narration Narrator as an observer.
Effects on story. Effects on reader. Point of View. Importance of narrator.
Foreshadowing Homer Barron. Mood. Effects of foreshadowing in story. Symbolism
Emily. “Rose” in title. Other characters in story. Conclusion The works of
William Faulkner have had positive effects on readers throughout his career.
Local legends and gossip trigger the main focus of his stories. Considering that
Faulkner grew up in Mississippi, he was very familiar with the ways of the
South. This award winning author has been praised by many critics for his
ability and unique style of writing. One of Faulkner’s most popular works,
which also was his first short story nationally published in 1930, “A Rose for
Emily” is one of the most authentic short stories by Faulkner (Pierce 849). By
writing about the political and social ways of the South, Faulkner was able to
create an illusion of the New south as being what we know today as mainstream
America. His use of characterization, narration, foreshadowing, and symbolism
are four key factors to why Faulkner’s work is idealistic to all readers. The
use of characterization in “A Rose for Emily” is clearly important to the
story. It is obvious to all readers that Miss Emily Grierson is the protagonist,
or the principal character. According to a prominent critic, Elizabeth Sabiston,
Emily is a gothic character (142). Sabiston is referring to Emily that way
because of the fact that she slept with the skeleton of her lover for forty
years. Miss Emily added a mystical tone the mood of the story due to her
incapability of being able to live in reality (Watson 180). She was awfully
stubborn to the townspeople. This stubbornness also ties in with Emily’s
ability to live in reality. After she refuses to Nichols 2 pay her taxes,
directly to the mayor, she tells them to go and see Colonel Satoris, who has
been dead for ten years. This portrays that Emily’s illusion of reality was
greatly distorted (Brooks and Warren 158). Arthur Voss, a notable critic
compares Miss Emily Grierson to the outstanding Mrs. Havisham of the famous
story by Dickens, “Great Expectations.” Both are motivated by their lovers,
isolate themselves in old decaying houses, and refuse to recognize that time has
passed. Both characters are proud, disdainful, and independent (Voss 249). This
comparison shows the importance of characterization. Without these characters,
the story would be radically changed. By understanding Emily, the reader may get
a clearer view of the actions that go on during the story (West 149). Several
other characters in “A Rose for Emily” are set in opposition to Emily.
Faulkner’s use of characterization proves to be positive way to exemplify the
readers’ feelings about certain characters and the tribulations they
experience. Another prime example of Faulkner’s effective writing is his use
of narration. Of course, in most stories the narrator is a key asset. In “ A
Rose for Emily” Faulkner uses the narrator not only as a story teller, but as
an observer from the crowd as well. The narrator’s point of view, which is
third person, had a positive effect on the way a reader views the story (Lee
47). Through out the story the narrator uses “we” instead of “I”,
revealing to us the way the townspeople judge Emily. The narrator thinks back in
time throughout the story remembering particular events that occurred in past
time. Nichols 3 This is important to the reader in that it helps aid the
understanding of how the townspeople viewed Emily. The narrator also reveals to
the reader that there was once a very distorted view of ideas in the Old South.
After revealing these views, he confronts the fact that most of these views were
terribly wrong (Watson 180). If the story had been narrated by anyone else, it
may not have been as easy for the reader to completely understand. With this
spectator as the narrator, describing the events of the story through his eyes,
one can detect a general impression of Emily (Madden 1987). The view of the
narrator is beneficial in understanding the things that Emily goes through.
Also, towards the end of the story the narrator gives the reader a feeling of
sorrow and pity for Emily (Lee 48). It is apparent that Faulkner’s use of
narration enhances and clarifies the stories effectiveness. Another example of
Faulkner’s unprecedented style is his use of foreshadowing. By using this
technique, Faulkner forces the reader to notice or feel the intensity of the
feeling s and sights given off by the story. An artistic nature is vividly
exhibited by the use of foreshadowing (Madden 1989). A prime example of this is
Homer Barron, who is Miss Emily’s lover. Homer is casually mentioned at first,
and he seems to have little or no significance to the story’s direct meaning
(Phillips 452). However after looking back over the story, the reader can see
that homer did display an important role in the theme of the story. The theme of
Emily Nichols 4 being unhappy and basically leading a sheltered life foreshadows
that Faulkner was bringing across that it was wrong for the townspeople to
gossip and assume things about Emily (Pierce 852). By using Homer as the
antagonist , one can see that because he had disagreed with Emily and was going
to quit her as her father did, the unhappiness drove her to committing murder.
Faulkner also used the mood as a foreshadowing tool. Instead of the mood
developing as a result of the story, the story actually develops as a result of
the mood. This throws the reader off a bit considering that this occurrence is
rare (Seyppel 73). The type of foreshadowing that Faulkner uses represents the
past and present generations and how they have progressed. As the generations
progressed in the story, Miss Emily still represented and stood for the beliefs
of the Old South while the New south generation stood back and allowed her to
bask in this illusion (Madden 1986). One final example of Faulkner’s
intellectual writing is his ability to incorporate symbolism into his writing.
In “A Rose for Emily” Miss Emily actually symbolized a remembrance of values
and sins of the townspeople’s fathers in past generations. Some considered
Miss Emily a decadent and perverse relic of the South’s ante-bellum past
(Pierce 849). Miss Emily was definitely a complex character in that her
character stood for the beliefs that she believed from the Old South. In the
title “ A Rose for Emily” many have ask “ What does the rose stand for?”
According to the distinguished critic David Madden, “the rose is a symbol of
the age of romance in Nichols 5 which the aristocracy were obsessed with
delusions of grandeur, pure women being a symbol of the ideal in every phase of
life.” In other words, the story is ,in a way, a “rose” to Miss Emily for
standing up for the things that she believed and died believing them (Pierce
849). Other characters also symbolized other things in the story. Colonel
Satoris, the old Negro servant, and the older generation of the Board of
Alderman symbolized the Old South. The unnamed narrator, the new generation of
the Board of Alderman, and the attitude of Homer Barron toward the Grierson’s
and the Old South symbolized the feelings of the New South (West 148). Most
people will agree that William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” has an effect
on those who read it. An entire novel could be written from this single short
story due to the fact that it had so many components intertwined within (Madden
1989). Through the use of characterization, narration, foreshadowing, and
symbolism, the reader will gather a clearer understanding of the point that
Faulkner is trying to get across. The point that Faulkner is trying to get
across is that gossip is not always true, and that no one should attempt to base
facts on what they hear from word of mouth. Finally, the effect of “ A Rose
for Emily” is one that is positive and enjoyable. “ A Rose for Emily” is
and will continue to be a definite success in the works of William Faulkner. The
story has been enjoyed by many readers and sure to be enjoyed by many others who
will read it in further generations yet to come.
Bibliography
Brooks, Clieanth, and Robert Penn Warren. Short Story Criticism. Laurie
Lanzen Harris and Sheila Fitzgerald, eds. Detriot; Gale Research Company, 1988.
Lee, Mary. “High School Students and the Great American Joke.” English
Journal 78 (1989): 46-48. Madden, David. A Rose for Emily, vol. 5 of Masterplots
II; Short Story Series (Pasadena: Salem Press, 1986), 1986-1989. Phillips, Loise.
“Answering Faulkner,” America: 160 (1989): 452-453. Pierce, Constance.
William Faulkner, vol. 3 of Critical Survey of Short Fiction (Pasadena: Salem
Press: 19930, 848-857. Sabiston, Elizabeth. Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol
52. Daniel G. Marowski and Roger Matuz, eds. Detroit: Gale Research Company,
1989. Seyppel, Joachin. William Faulkner. NewYork: Frederick Ungar Publishing
Company,1971. Voss, Arthur. The American Short Story. University of Oklahoma
Press: 1975. Watson, Jay. Forensic Fictions: The Lawyer Figure in Faulkner,
(Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1993). West, Ray B. Jr. Short Story
Criticism. Laurie Lanzen Harris and Sheila Fitzgerald,eds. Detroit: Gale
Research Company, 1988.
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