A Rose for Emily: A Character Analysis
Nobel Laureate William Faulkner’s short story centers on a distinct character– Emily Grierson mirrored in the fish -eye vision of the townsfolk of Jefferson. Miss Emily was a star in her own right, with her sense of haughty lineage and her strange closeted life. “Alive, Miss Emily had been a custom, a task, and a care; a sort of hereditary commitment upon the town” (Faulkner, 1970, p. 9).
The author’s method of story-telling to and fro on the rails of time helps the reader look Emily from varied angles at different ages. The last direct exposure of the corpse in your home offers an insight into the disrupted psychological state of her mind.
Physically, Emily has distinguishing characteristics– “a small, fat woman in black, with a thin gold chain coming down to her waist and disappearing into her belt, leaning on an ebony cane with a tainted gold head. Her skeleton was small and spare; … She looked puffed up, like a body long immersed in stationary water, and of that pallid hue. Her eyes, lost in the fatty ridges of her face, appeared like 2 small pieces of coal pushed into a lump of dough …” (Faulkner, 1970, p. 10).
She was a living testimony to the bygone days of honorable rule, and even the decayed depressing house reflected her spirit.
The daddy’s horse-whip dominance and limitations obliged her to slowly turn away from the world: even his demise failed to liberate her from the caged lonely existence. Later she proclaimed her sovereignty by cutting her hair short like a woman and having a secret affair with the Yankee foreman Homer Barron.
There is a stream of subtle insinuations about her mental state– “insane” (Faulkner, 1970, p. 11), “ill” (Faulkner, 1970, p. 12), resistant. When she purchased the arsenic, her eyes looked like the haunted viewing look of the lighthouse– keeper.
Emily was placed on a pedestal of wonder and prestige, interest and suspense by the townspeople. She maintained that image of cold hauteur throughout her life, dismissing the bureaucratic authorities along with gossiping public alike. New guidelines of post or tax did not permeate her world. “Emily is identified by her ability to comprehend and use the power that accrues to her from the reality that men do not see her but rather their principle of her” (Staton, 1987, p. 274).
Desperate for love and enthusiasm she claimed belongings of this inefficient love permanently by killing him- as the broken down body was found, with all the product valuables, in a pose of welcome, and the shocking evidence of her iron-gray hair on the adjoining pillow. Her life time magnificence paralleled with the gruesome proof of her necrophilia and self-imposed singular imprisonment makes her a distinct character of Faulkner’s innovative creativity.
Faulkner, William.( 1970 ). A Rose for Emily. In M. Thomas Inge (Ed.), An increased for Emily (pp. 9 -17). Columbus: Charles E. Merrill Publishing Business
Staton, Shirley F. (1987 ). Literary theories in praxis. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.