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A Rose for Emily: Gothic Imagery as a Method of Description


A Rose for Emily: Gothic Images as an Approach of Description

Christopher Gardner English 68 Professor Brackenhoff Tues/ Thurs. 4:45 p. m. A Rose for Emily In Edgar Alan Poe’s, “The Fall of the House of Usher”, Poe states, “Gothic fiction is marked by imagery in settings which develop a sense of gloom, mystery, the supernatural, the irrational, and scary.” Likewise, in “Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner, Faulkner utilizes the primary method of gothic images to produce parallels between Miss Emily’s home, her frame of mind, and her personality. The use of such descriptive language is evident in the very beginning of the story with the description of the facade of Miss Emily’s house.

Faulkner states, “However garages and cotton gins had trespassed and eliminated even the august names of that area; only Miss Emily’s home was left, lifting its persistent and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gas pumps– an eyesore among eyesores.” This uses gothic images to show Miss Emily’s home as a heavy, decaying home that was once brand-new and perfect. This shows Miss Emily in that at one time she was young and typical but now has aged and succumbed to the situations of her childhood.

Faulkner’s gothic descriptions continue with the description of the within Miss Emily’s house. When members of the Board of Aldermen concern her home to inquire about her taxes they are enabled access to the dark, cavern like interior of Miss Emily’s home. “They were admitted by the old Negro into a dim hall from which a stairway installed into still more shadow. It gave off dust and disuse– a close, dank smell.” (Faulkner) The interior of your house is referred to as something rotting and old, dusty and molding from disuse even though both Miss Emily and Tobe live there.

Your house is dusty from absence of cleaning and absence of Company. The furniture parlor is described. It is referred to as being heavy, leather furniture. The image of a darkened space with large, dark furniture occupying its floor area make the reader visualize a confined and decaying space in a space where there should be light and space for business and family The use of gothic imagery is continued with the physical description of Miss Emily. Instead of using the term “frame” to mention Miss Emily’s body the Faulkner uses the term “skeleton. The use of this word together with the description “She looked puffed up, like a body long immersed in still water, and of that pallid hue” (Faulkner) evokes from the reader a picture of a remains that has actually become pale with decay. With this description of Miss Emily Faulkner starts to produce the parallels in between the physical description of Miss Emily and her house. They both are aging and decrepit and beginning to break down around the edges. Faulkner utilizes gothic imagery as an approach of description in “A Rose for Emily” to set an environment of a dark, scary old house.

Throughout the story the reader is offered all of the dark details but it is not until the conclusion of the story that the reader can fully use those details. The reader is provided the sense of something ominous however does not understand why until it is revealed that Homer Barron has been poisoned by Miss Emily and that she has kept his corpse in a room in her home for the previous thirty years. Faulkner succeeds in his attempt to project the image of the dark and threatening house and of Miss Emily’s mind. He makes the reader uncomfortable throughout the story all while keeping the secret of why for the very end of the story.

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