Faulkner in his narrative, A Rose for Emily, probes into the hidden miseries behind the curtains of glory. Emily was an outstanding lady with whom all the members of the public assumed a proprietary affiliation to, extolling the icon of a magnificent lady whose family record and status required great reverence. At the same time, the townspeople disapproved of her unusual life and relationship with Homer Barron. Emily is simply depicted as an object of fascination. Most of the people were obligated to protect her, whereas others felt free to scrutinize her every move, floating at the edges of her life. Since she was the last of the Jefferson family, she was highly treasured; yet, after her death, we find out that she had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town (Faulkner, 1). Colonel Sartoris is forced to fabricate a story regarding the payment of Emily's dues, to keep her from the humiliation of accepting donations.
The house, the town and Miss Emily herself, all display the theme of decay in the story. Told by an unknown speaker (who is a resident in Jefferson town), the story begins with the whole city learning of Emily’s demise. The readers are informed of Emily’s association with her father, the town her lover, Homer. The town grows old in correspondence with Emily’s aging. Although Emily had formerly resided in one of the best estates in Jefferson; the area in currently believed to be one of the most awful in the city. It appears that the region had matured and rotten with Miss Emily. When she was younger, Emily and her relatives were esteemed and acknowledged as some of Jefferson's best residents. Since Emily has aged, the town views her in a diverse manner. In her current age she is viewed as a tribute to history that is never witnessed out of her home. All of the admiration that her father had received disappeared with the aged population of the town. The previous traditions of Jefferson town perished and departed with all of the residents who had made the town their dwelling place (Steinbeck 21).
Emily’s house was on one occasion one of the most attractive abodes in the entire city. During Emily's early life the home was constantly maintained. As Miss Emily grew old so did the home she stayed in. The house turned into an ugly thing for the whole city; with dull paint and an untidy back garden it even started to stink after sometime. The males of the aged town would never advise a female that her home reeked; therefore, they alleviated the bad smell themselves. Somehow, Emily and the house had a connection since both of them had aged and lost their beauty. Moreover, they were viewed by the society from a similar perspective; historic monuments. Thus, Miss Emily's house is a significant icon in this narrative. For nearly all of the narrative, we, similar to the town’s inhabitants, merely look at Miss Emily's home from the exterior coming in. Since the house was constructed in the 1870s, we learn that Miss Emily's father should have been doing quite fine for himself subsequent to the Civil War. The home is an enormous image of Miss Emily's separation (Steinbeck 25).
At one point, Emily was one of the most attractive women in the town. When her father was sill living no male attempted to date her. However, she aged and all her looks disappeared as she turned into an elderly plump and gray haired aged lady. In fact, her brain aged and decayed too; putting her in a position of not knowing right and wrong. She had a lover, Homer Barron, who she poisoned and killed, as we later learn at the end of the story. Eventually, Emily is described as not only an economic trouble to the Jefferson, but also a figure of resentment since she disturbs the society's strict social ethics.
A Rose for Emily employs metaphors to portray a theme of demise and decay. These descriptions eventually display the evolution of Ms. Emily to her mental illness and her death. Faulkner employs metaphors to generate this state of disorder in his readers. After smashing and going through the entrance of Ms. Emily’s house, “everybody was left in shock…seeing the intense…fleshless grin” (Faulkner 96). This picture creates an image of a skeleton in the position that has been rotting after a long time. The notion of Ms. Emily being able of murdering someone, particularly a lover, is unbelievable. To the state overly alarming, Emily was consequently desensitized that she reserved the corpse in her house to cuddle and adore it eternally. The writer’s imagery generates this disgusting thought of cuddling a corpse. Faulkner’s tale is basically on the decomposition of the brain, body and community setting.
Death symbolizes this ruthless truth that Emily can no longer be reliant on anybody, and that she is actually by herself and secluded from the entire society. She does not take her father's demise in a good way. She gets into a descending twirl of anguish and madness (Faulkner 93). Emily is in this traumatized condition, to the extent that she still thinks her father is not dead. Although Miss Emily is incapable of gripping the thought of death and undergoes a lot of denial, the truth eventually dawns on her. The theme of decay is gradually tearing away at Emily. She is growing older as the town is growing older. Emily’s father grows older and dies. The old ways of running Jefferson are disappearing as the young folk step up to the plate to run the town and instill new policies and direction. Everything around Emily is decaying including herself. Even her mind is decaying. Faulkner successfully uses imagery to reveal the theme of decay that he intricately placed throughout his story. The successful use of this imagery showed Ms. Emily’s transition from a prominent townsperson to a mentally ill and decrepit person which ultimately led to her demise.
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Being a form of American Gothicism, A Rose for Emily employs powerful description, an exciting ambiguity, and a satirical twirl at each spin. Although the narrative narrated by a particular source, the speaker applies the conjunctive “we” to promote the development of the narrative. Hence, all the people of the town, in their intensely embedded inquisitiveness, function as the central character in this story. Their critical suppositions are powerfully backed by Emily’s strange conduct over the years whilst being communally isolated. Moreover, the story has a deep sense of irony. When studying the tale, it is simple to experience compassion for Emily in all her tests; however, after analyzing the tale, one can scrutinize her dilemmas unemotionally and ascertain the verification as events unfold that confirm her to be psychologically imbalanced. A similar conclusion can be made regarding the residents of the town. Satirically, in their southern courtesy, they are also lost in thought with their individual restrictions of courtesy to awareness (Lawn 1).
The Pocket Watch is also a symbol employed in the story. The fight involving the ancient times and the upcoming events daunts the present activities. Once associates of the Board of Aldermen go Emily’s house to find out about the payment of taxes ten years prior to her demise, they take notice of the ticking of Emily’s pocket watch, concealed somewhere in the tucks of her garments and her body. This is an indication to the readers that for Emily, time is both an inexplicable "indiscernible" power, and one of which she has constantly been intensely conscious. With every second that passes, her opportunity for contentment declines.
An additional icon of time is Emily's hair. The city initially uses her hair to tell time, and afterward when she goes into her residence after her hair has changed to "a strong iron-gray, similar to the hair of a vigorous man" (4.6). After Emily stays in her house for a long time, the town utilizes Tobe's hair, “starring as it changes to grey as well,” to inform us of the many years Emily has hidden in her house. The fiber of Emily's hair noticed on the pillow close to Homer also indicates time, although exactly what time it indicates is difficult to tell. The speaker informs the readers that Homer's tomb had not been unwrapped in 40 years, which is precisely the time Homer had disappeared. Nevertheless, Emily's hair did not change to "iron-gray" until around 1898, a few years subsequent to Homer's demise.
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Lime, an ashen powder applied in corpses to conceal the bad odor, and arsenic, also used for disposing awful smells, are the tale’s most ghostly signs. Satirically, it appears that the lime was scattered unsuccessfully. The stench of the decomposing dead body of Homer Barron stopped dispersing into the locality of its own will. Or perhaps the neighborhood simply got accustomed to the odor. The lime is a sign of a futile effort to conceal something awkward, and scary. It also resembles the manner in which the town, in that era executed things.
Although Faulkner had numerous themes in his book A Rose for Emily, the decay premise was the most rampant in the whole narrative. Jefferson town, the house, and Emily herself, all aged. Miss Emily beauty and brains were all lost. The striking looks of the house vanished owing to old age, while the entire southern town, once beautiful and admirable, became unattractive after many years. Everything actually decayed in William Faulkner’s story. The story demonstrates the manner in which everyone ages and perishes. This book is a significant aspect in literature owing to the analysis of the results of transformation formed in the ancient South (Lawn 2).