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‘A Rose for Emily’ by William Faulkner is a Southern Gothic type of literature. Some gothic works are concerned with horror while others deal with romance. The writers of Southern Gothic literature use spoiled characters to improve their tales, and show the deeper highlights concerning the unlikable characteristics of the southern people. The characters are frequently separated from the other people within the society as an outcome of their physical, social, or mental disabilities. Nevertheless, not every characteristic of the characters are awful. There are cases where the characters have both evil and convenient features in the majority of the performers. These writers of the narratives do reveal virtuous qualities of the major character, and this makes the reader sympathize and understand the character.
William Faulkner’s story ‘A Rose for Emily’ is an excellent example of a southern gothic literature since it consists of some feature of this literature, such as death, crazy miss, old, dark mansion, bizarre events, and mystery. The tale took place within a small city in Jefferson Mississippi. The writer narrates a story of a lady called Miss Emily Grierson who lived in that city. It is an extraordinary story which talks about a spinster, Emily Grierson, who is aging and lives in Jefferson. Her passing away and funeral touched the hearts of many people in the whole town. The description of the funeral shows this story is a southern gothic. The story starts with the pronouncement of Miss Emily’s death, who is a spinster alienated by the other residence in the south in the early twentieth or late nineteenth century. The narrator, speaks using the ‘we’ voice and is seen representing the residents of the town, narrates the story that talks about the life of Emily as an impoverished and lonely woman who was left without money by the father, who chased off suitors from his daughter due to his overprotective nature. When the father died, he left Emily with a big, dilapidated house in which the residents of the town were never invited, and when they finally manage to go into the house after the death of Emily, they get shocking news that they did not know before. They discover the whole truth concerning Emily’s problems that she had been keeping her lover’s body, Homer Barron, a Northerner, sheltered in the bedroom because she had killed him some years before her death.
‘Faulkner’s story, ‘A Rose for Emily’, represents the feature of evoking chilling gloom and terror by exploiting horror and mystery. The story ends with the residents of the town exploring the house of Emily after she died, “One of us raised a little bit from it, and inclining forward, that faded and imperceptible dust dry and pungent in the nostrils, we saw a long filament of iron-gray hair” (Faulkner 292). The author intentionally wrote this in order the readers to understand that it was meant to horrify them. Additionally, Emily was sleeping beside the corpse for more than thirty years. The body was reeking and rotting, and all the nights she slept beside him. In addition to this, Emily had killed him. Therefore, the mystery of the story is why one would sleep beside a dead body of a husband that one killed many years ago.
The story also shows the hidden and dark side of situations regarding Emily who is the outstanding character in this story. Emily, who was left by her father while she was little after his death, had become depressed. The people in the town sympathized with her since she was a lonely, but a polite person. The author describes her as “…still a slender lady, though thinner than normal, with cold, conceited black eyes in an expression the flesh of which was strained athwart the temples and about the eye sockets as you picture a lighthouse-keeper’s face should seem to be” ( Faulkner 289). Soon Emily was in love with Homer Barron, a youthful guy, who after some time disappeared. The entire sundry understood that the youthful guy left her, and they sympathized with Emily because of the loss. This was especially because she could not even leave her house. However, as the story ends, the people in the town shortly discovered that she always stayed in the house especially in her bedroom. The author adds that when the residents of the town realized what Emily had been hiding for many years, they all stood for a long time gazing at the fleshless carcass. They discovered that Emily who was the quiet, sad, old lady was the killer of the young guy many years ago, and that she still slept beside his carcass. The people in the town finally saw all the wickedness and the dark side regarding Miss Emily. This revealed all stereotypes and indeed proves a genuine place where hidden secrets and lies were running around.
The story shows how it tips stereotypes on the side that they are, and kicks them inside the gut. Charming southern belles appear to be greedy and crafty, courteous people. They are tricky and wicked, and the righteous preachers are seen as evil and manipulative. Emily is seen as a sweet, aged lady living in the south. She gives the impression of suspicion. The stereotype given to people, who appear as aged as Miss Emily, is that, they are entirely innocent and sweet. However, this is totally different in Emily’s case. She kills the husband since she disagrees with his idea of leaving her. Emily ends up lying on the bed with the rotting carcass with the arms of the carcass enclosed around her. This is seen when the author notes that, ‘The body had according to the grapevine once lain in the position of an hug, now the long slumber that lives longer than love, that surmounts even the contortion of love, had cuckolded him”. (Faulkner 292). This implies that Emily had hidden secrets that no one knew about, and she was not the person that people thought she was. Each and every person thinks she is a blameless woman without secrets. However, this is finally proven wrong by the people in her town.
There has been the perception that Faulkner’s work was incomplete or rather ambiguous. Some critics believe that the author may have intended to indicate that Homer was a gay man. As a result, it could have been the possible reason why he refused to marry Miss. Emily. Eventually, Miss. Emily ends up killing Homer due to the fact that she cannot accept denial by the love of her life (Judith 196). The author has also used symbols in the id to convey a message to the reader. For instance, the strand of hair that the neighbors see in Miss. Emily’s house is symbolic. It symbolizes the love lost. It is an illustration of the lengths that people are willing to go in the name of love. The strand of hair is extremely significant as it leads the neighbors to uncovering the secret that Miss Emily had been keeping all that time. The author’s choice of the symbol is strategic in narrating the unfolding events in the short story. It keeps the reader glued to the book in order to grasp what each symbolic feature stands for in relation to the story.
The prevailing theme in the short story is the power of death. Right from the beginning, the author takes the reader through experience that Emily had to go through after the death of her father. Left in their huge house, she sought the companion of a young man. However, this did not relieve her of the pain that one could see due to the desperation of her father’s death. She remained weak and withdrawn fro the rest of society. Later, her lover dies. She holds onto his dead body for a long time. This was because she was in denial and could not accept the fact that she had no one to turn to during these times. It is only when she dies that the neighbors uncover her secret. This is an indication that death had made the secrets of Emily be known to her neighbors. The author explores the power of death in the sense that it is the only thing that can bring to bizarre behavior like that of Miss Emily.
In conclusion, it is evident that the short story A rose for Emily is a representation of the people of the south. From the analysis, the short story fits the features of a southern gothic type of literature. The author manages to keep the reader interested in reading the story. He manages to achieve the purpose of passing on his message to the readers. The short story is a must read. It clearly represents the notions of a society gone soar due to the constant alienation that the people practice. It teaches the readers to work together as one in order to help each other when faced with problems.
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