Essay, Research Paper: Rose For Emily

Literature: William Faulkner

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“A Rose for Emily” By William Faulkner Reading this atypical piece of work
entitled “A Rose for Emily”, written by William Faulkner encourages a sense
of thrill and stimulation within. Since Mr. Faulkner resided in Mississippi most
of his writings reflect his home state, as does “A Rose for Emily”. The
first person minor point of view is being told by the townspeople. The main
character, Miss Emily, in this short gothic story that took place during the
early 1900 hundreds demonstrated a conflict she was having with herself. I think
that it is well known that our parents are the backbone to each person’s
existence. Knowing this, William Faulkner managed to include through the events
in the plot an underlining message mixed with a little flowered mockery.
Although, Ms. Emily committed murder, she was a victim of her learned
environment because of her father and the citizens of Jefferson. This story
revolved around one town and one main character. The beginning of this woman’s
well to do life in a poor southern state consisted only of herself and her
domineering father living in the same house until the calling of God summoned
her elsewhere. Miss Emily managed to make it to age thirty still being single
with only the help of her father and “she would... continue to cling to that
which had robbed her"(472). The town’s people assumed that “none of the
young men were quite good enough for Ms. Emily and such”(471). When the only
person in Emily’s life passed on, she stood in denial and refused condolences
an aid to bury her father from the town ladies. The damage that her father had
bestowed upon her by sheltering her from the rest of the world was starting to
emerge at the time of his death. By over-protecting Emily and “clutching a
horsewhip”(471) to control her life, caused her to become hermit-like in the
town she grew up in and knew very well. This creator of Emily must have lead her
life for her in every way, fore when he exited the earth, he managed to take a
big part of her with him. I believe this caused a confused state in which Emily
really didn’t know herself, causing her to be so afraid of being alone that
townspeople were “trying to persuade her to let them dispose of the body...
for three days”(471). Emily came upon and involved herself with a second male
figure that turned out to be her lover. In the end Emily poisons her lover to
keep him from leaving her. The fulfilling plot is retold by the townspeople as
if they were all reflecting upon her life and the things they remembered. By the
author reflecting back, using the whole town, it gave the story a sense of
upcoming purpose. The climax continued to climb starting “when the smell
developed”(470) to Emily purchasing the arsenic and finally the very end when
the realization was put forth by “a long strand of iron-gray hair”(475)
implying that she really killed Homer. The author’s tone carried sympathy for
Emily as stated by the townspeople, when they said “poor Emily”(472) several
times. The characterization of Emily was also provided by the description of her
house that had once been white, decorated with a nice roof, steeple, and
“scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies”(469),
compared to the current portrait given of “an eye sore among eyesores”(469).
The townspeople who “had begun to feel really sorry for her”(471), along
with her father, all provided an external unhealthy motivation that is
responsible for her unthinkable actions of murdering Homer. A mixture of simple
to read sentences along with minor dialog made the story easy to understand. I
felt the style of writing provided a spirited suspense by not letting on that
Homer was dead until the closing paragraphs. For me, stories like that keep me
reading until the very end. A story like this, that took place in the south
during the early 1900 hundreds basically got away with murder. If the setting
for this story would have been present day 2000, it would have upset and
infuriated some readers for the fact that a crime was committed and no one were
prosecuted. The town officials would have carried more of the blame for not
finding out the real cause of that smell. The black servant would have also been
charged for not reporting the murder. Basically, any other time and place would
have caused the story to lose its effectiveness. Looking past all the literary
elements except the theme, which contained the most meaning relating back to
Emily’s surroundings. The death of her father constructed a mental milestone
in her life in which she would continue to build upon in an unhealthy manner.
She carried the haunting presence of father with her, and had always maintained
a love/hate attitude regarding her father and the sheltering life style he
provided for her. The citizens of Jefferson contributed to Emily’s demise by
befriending her in times of need, and whispering about her instead of helping
her. If Emily really meant that much for the whole town to attend her passing
then they should have been there to support and comfort her and not “out of
curiosity to see the inside of her house”(469). If the men really had respect
for her while she was still living then they would have welcomed her to social
gatherings. None of this occurred; in thus, making Emily the town’s laughing
monument during her breathing years. Emily deeply needed to “become
humanized”(471) and love someone and to be loved since the passing of her
father “left her all alone and a pauper”(471). Emily must have known that
the end of her relationship with Homer was drawing near, other wise she would
not have already had the arsenic on hand. Following her unthinkable actions to
finally take control of a situation, she invited the town’s children to her
newly created studio within her home and taught them china painting. This was
Emily’s last attempt to be giving to the community and in turn calm her
loneness. Then “the pupils had grown up.... and did not sent their children to
her.... for china painting lessons so her door closed and remained
closed”(474). Citing this example is another way the town had turned their
back on her. Over the years the word had got out that Emily was a crazy person
and I am sure that is why there were no further students sent to her. The entire
concept of a rose is interesting with possibly two meanings. Roses are beautiful
with a meaning of love and respect along with hope and courage. Even though
roses have such meaning, they also have thorns. Roses and their thorns symbolize
her life as a whole. The petals being her father’s love that protected her,
the thorns being “all the young men her father had driven away”(472) and
comparing it to the affection she had for Homer that he did not carry for her.
It makes sense that Emily lived her life like a rose. Another symbolic item
about the title is that it only states “A Rose”, meaning one. One rose
symbolizes simplicity and the fact that all she really wanted was a normal and
simple life with out loneness. This single rose happens to be Homer and Emily
dries him out and keeps him. The purpose of the story is that life is
unpredictable and we are all products of our environment. Some of us choose not
to let an unfortunate way of life rule us, Miss Emily on the other hand did not
have self-esteem, self-worth and confidence to persuade her otherwise. She had
been ruled by her father, deemed a crazy woman by the town and lost many men
that had come calling her. The one man that she held somewhat of a relationship
with was going to leave her and her only solution in order to hold onto him was
to do the unthinkable and murder him to keep him from leaving like all the rest.
In this day an age, Emily would have been diagnosed with mental disorder, which
would have required her to contend with her separation anxiety behavior that
stemmed from the nucleus of her family, primarily her father. In the beginning
Emily was being controlled and in the end Emily learned to control. Sociology
teaches that everything is a learned behavior, including the environment in
which we are harvested from. I would also like to imply that it is impossible to
kill without creating conditions for your own murder. Miss Emily may have
thought that by administering the rat poison to Homer she would finally get and
keep what she always wanted regardless of a beating heart. But in the end she
was still alone from being victimized by her environment and that added to her
decline.
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