Essay, Research Paper: Lottery And Rose For Emily

Literature: William Faulkner

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Evil and charm are considered by many people to be very different things. It is
not often that it is thought that evil and charm coexist together. Evil is
defined to be; morally bad, or wicked, while charms definition is; a trait that
fascinates, allures or delights. According to British author Brian Masters
“evil is something you recognize immediately you see it: it works through
charm.” Masters’ argument can be backed up through two pieces of literature,
Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and William Faulkner’s “A Rose For
Emily.” Both stories display evil and charm coexisting together in a society
through setting, character’s attitudes and symbolism. “The Lottery” is a
somewhat sick, twisted story that sets the reader up with the right and then
pops them one with the left. To begin, the setting makes the reader feel all
warm and good inside, and gives the reader the feeling that the story is going
to be a cheerful one. “The morning of June 27 was clear and sunny, with the
fresh warmth of a full summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the
grass was richly green.” (Jackson 229) Here, the author shows that summer is
just beginning, and that with summer, life is just beginning. The flowers are
blossoming, the grass is a rich shade of green, and the town’s people are
gathering in the square between the post office and the bank. The descriptions
of the town are very misleading to the reader in terms of what is taking place.
The charm of the town delights the reader at the start and gives the reader a
comforting feeling about what is going to happen. The evil of the town is hidden
behind a mask of charm. The characters in “The Lottery” are very misleading
to the reader in terms of character traits. The characters attitudes towards the
lottery are very upbeat and display that the characters have no problem with the
fact that they are attending a lottery. The fact that a lottery is taking place
leads many to believe that there is a chance to win money for free. Where in
this case it is the chance to kill someone by stoning him or her to death.
Throughout the whole story the town’s peoples attitudes are lackadaisical;
they don’t care about the lottery, and seem to only want it over with. “The
whole lottery took less than two hours, so it could begin at ten o’clock in
the morning and still be through in time to allow the villagers to get home for
noon diner.” (Jackson 229) Here it is seen that the lottery something
insignificant and meaningless to the towns people. Evil is definitely displayed
here, as the event that is being organized and will take place is considered to
be morally bad. The charm of the people involved shines through brightly in
character traits that are displayed. It is displayed that the persons involved
in the event are excited to be there and delightful towards the fact that they
are about to kill a person. Another example of “The Lottery” displaying evil
and charm coexisting together is the symbolism that is used in the story. The
black box is the central idea or theme in the story. It symbolizes at first some
type of mystery, but reading further into the story it is realized that it is
synonymous with doom. The box is symbolic of the towns people’s fear of
change, it is old and splintered showing that the people of the town would
rather cling to what is familiar rather than change, symbolizing the traditions
of the community. No one in the town questions the box, but accept it as a part
of their lives. The box considered by the towns people to be charming, but has a
direct link to the evil in the town as it determines who will be sacrificed in
order for the people to be happy. Another story in which evil and charm coexist
is “A Rose For Emily” written by William Faulkner. “A Rose for Emily” is
told by a nameless narrator describing the life of a pathetic woman, Emily. The
setting of the story is seen through the view of the narrator, which seems to be
the voice of the town. Emily’s house is the main focus throughout the story,
as the narrator constantly talks about what may be going on inside the house.
The house seems to fascinate the town, the numerous remarks that arise
throughout the story lead the reader to believe that the whole town knows about
Emily’s house. “Only Miss Emily’s house was left, lifting its stubborn and
coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps—and eyesore
among eyesores.” (Faulkner 27) Emily’s house is the evil part of the town as
seen by the people in the town because it has become and eyesore in the
community and but yet they are all drawn to the house, always wondering what is
going on inside and what Emily is up to. The attitude of the narrator displays
to the reader that the town is drawn to the life of Emily. The whole town has an
idea on what type of life Emily led, but their image of Emily is created through
gossip and assumptions that were made as a result of the lack of time Emily
spent out in the public. The town assumes that Emily has a problem with
maintaining a clean house and assume that the stench coming from here house can
just be covered up, so that is what they do. “They broke open the cellar door
and sprinkled lime there, and in all the out buildings…they crept quietly
across the lawn and into the shadow of the locust that lined the street. After a
week or two the smell went away.” (Faulkner 28) The attitude of the town
displayed her demonstrates that the people of the town feel that Emily has a
evil aura to here as they are to afraid to knock on her front door and ask her
what the smell is coming from her house. Instead the town decides to cover up
the smell most likely because they are to fascinated with Emily to actually talk
to her. This characteristic of the town results in the town being somewhat evil
in terms that the people of the town cannot even speak to someone that delights
them. As a result the town would rather make up stories about Emily than find
out the truth. Symbolism is another method that shows how evil and charm coexist
in “A Rose for Emily.” The people of the town believed that Emily was a
flower lover and that she loved to have them around. Especially roses. But the
roses that Emily adored were just a symbol to confuse the town of her desire.
The symbol of the rose is used to represent the preservation of roses. When
preserving them they must be dried out. Emily has done exactly this, but not
with roses, with her love, Homer. “For a long while we just stood there,
looking down at the profound and fleshless grin. The body had apparently once
lain in the attitude of and embrace, but now the long sleep that outlasts love,
that conquers even the grimace of love, had cuckold him.” (Faulkner 33) Emily
had preserved Homer much like one does a dried out rose. The town’s people are
shocked at this as they realize that Emily’s charm was a disguise for the evil
that she possessed. In both Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and William
Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” evil occurs but is masked by charm. Setting,
characters, and symbols help to display this and reinforce that Brian Masters
was correct in arguing that “evil is something you recognize immediately you
see it; it works through charm.”
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