“A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner

Table of Contents

When one man wants to intrude into the life of another man there appears a disclosure of the statement that trying to oppress one will definitely feel oppression in his/her own life.


A short story by William Faulkner is a great manifestation of how the ability of a writer to depict the reality by means of supported symbols and ominous pictures, so that to transform it into the inner description of peoples’ souls. Such implementation of grotesque and vivid characterization provides an incessant process of thinking over the real destination of a man in life. A humane approach is appropriate here due to a claim that people, first of all, should follow the calling of their good side of hearts. Moreover, this point goes without saying when living in the society with its cruel and harsh rule which promote the principles in people close to a well-known proverb ‘dog eat dog’. This paper deals with the analysis of Faulkner’s short story in terms of the implementation of social problems throughout the attitudes of people. In this respect the destiny of Miss Emily with her soulful and societal struggles is at the core of the analysis. Her mutual connection to Jefferson and to its inhabitants is a field of great interest, meaning the dynamic flow of actions which happens in this town. All in all, the story is full of images and symbolic coloring which are used by the writer to make it more expressive and touching for a reader.

Structurally the story consists of five small parts in which the direction of actions grows from the evaluation of Miss Emily’s life and her house along with so thrilling everyone in the district smell until her death and disclosure of the secret of her life. In this case one should admit that the story is not lack of the use of expressive means and stylistic devices. Composition of the story is built in a narrative key with glimpses of mere breakdown of time framework, which was appropriate for Faulkner and for the Modernist stream on the whole. Moreover, the traits of Freudian theory are felt as well in the story. Henry Claridge admits in his observation of the story: “As Faulkner himself has simplified, it is a story of a woman victimized and betrayed by the system of sexual politics, who, nevertheless, has discovered within the structures that victimized her, sources of power for herself” (51).


‘A Rose for Emily’ comprises in its content many episodes which testify various moments concerned with the intentions of the society and people living in Jefferson to make all possible efforts, so that to intrude into her personal life. Board of Aldermen, Judge and people inhabiting the district near the house of Miss Emily are the main characters which provide a reader with a grotesque and ironical implementation of actions throughout the whole flow of the story. The description of Miss Emily promotes the sorrow of hers after the influence of social system and violence from the side of a men power. She seems to be a man-made product, where the main struggle of hers is incorporated in the fact that she is called like ‘Miss’:

They rose when she entered–a small, fat woman in black, with a thin gold chain descending to her waist and vanishing into her belt, leaning on an ebony cane with a tarnished gold head. Her skeleton was small and spare; perhaps that was why what would have been merely plumpness in another was obesity in her (Faulkner Chapter I).

In fact, she never opens the door of her house, as a symbol of her confidentiality and right for personal hopes and amenities in life: “When her father died, it got about that the house was all that was left to her; and in a way, people were glad” (Faulkner Chapter II). It is amazing that the crowd, as a mainstream lack of spirituality, promotes a forced “movement” on her life without even hiding their real intentions to exult. One of the characters, the druggist, does not even notes that the inner intention of Miss Emily Grierson is to die, when he sells poison for her. It is a logical act which proved her desire to be near her dead father and out of those cruel and disingenuous people. What is more, the climax of the story falls at the scene of Miss Emily’s death where all curious people are happy to open their house. This in turn promotes the decline of morale in people who are mercantile in order to pay attention more on details than on the essence of a man’s life with all his/her peculiarities.


To sum up, one should point out that the idea of the short story ‘A Rose for Emily’ is embodied in the concept of a woman’s violation and oppression which she experiences in life. This tension is growing every now and then, and Miss Emily has nothing to do about how to get out of such cage. Furthermore, this story once more demonstrates that peoples’ characters have no changes in all times and this tendency invokes no surprise nowadays when morality seems to be totally trite.

Works cited

Claridge, Henry. William Faulkner: critical assessments. London: Taylor & Francis, 1999.

Faulkner, William. A Rose for Emily. Web.

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