William Faulkner’s a Rose for Emily– a Gothic Scary Tale
William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily– A Gothic horror Tale William Faulkner is widely thought about to be one of the terrific American authors of the twentieth century. Although his greatest works are identified with a specific area and time (Mississippi in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries), the styles he explores are universal. He was likewise a very accomplished author in a technical sense. Books such as The Noise and the Fury and Absalom, Absalom! function vibrant experimentation with shifts in time and narrative.
Several of his short stories are favorites of anthologists, including “A Rose for Emily.” This weird story of love, fixation, and death is a favorite among both readers and critics. The narrator, promoting the town of Jefferson in Faulkner’s imaginary Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, tells a series of stories about the town’s reclusive spinster, Miss Emily Grierson. The stories develop to a gruesome revelation after Miss Emily’s funeral. She obviously poisoned her lover, Homer Barron, and kept his remains in an attic bedroom for over forty years.
It is a common vital cliche to say that a story “exists on lots of levels.” When it comes to “A Rose for Emily”, this is the fact. Critic Frank A. Littler, in an essay released in Notes on Mississippi Writers relating to the chronology of the story, composes that “A Rose for Emily” has read otherwise as “… a Gothic scary tale, a study in abnormal psychology, an allegory of the relations in between North and South, a meditation on the nature of time, and a disaster with Emily as a sort of terrible heroine.” These different interpretations work as an excellent starting point for discussion of the story.
The Gothic horror tale is a literary form going back to 1764 with the very first novel identified with the category, Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Ontralto. Gothicism includes an atomosphere of horror and dread: bleak castles or estates, ominous characters, and inexplicable phenomena. Gothic novels and stories also frequently include unnatural combinations of sex and death. In a lecture to students documented by Frederick L. Gwynn and Joseph L. Blotner in Faulkner in the University: Class Conferences at the University of Virginia 1957-1958, Faulkner himself claimed that “A Rose for Emily” is a “ghost story. In reality, Faulkner is considered by numerous to be the progenitor of a sub-genre, the Southern gothic. The Southern gothic style integrates the aspects of timeless Gothicism with particular Southern archetypes (the reclusive spinster, for example) and puts them in a Southern scene. Faulkner’s novels and stories about the South consist of dark, taboo subjects such as murder, suicide, and incest. James M. Mellard, in The Faulkner Journal, argues that “A Rose for Emily” is a “retrospective Gothic;” that is, the reader is uninformed that the story is Gothic up until the ending when Homer Barron’s corpse is found.
He points out that the narrator’s tone is almost whimsical. He also keeps in mind that because the storyteller’s flashbacks are not provided in an ordinary consecutive order, readers who are really unfamiliar with the story do not put all the pieces together until the end. Nevertheless, a genuinely cautious first reading should start to reveal the Gothic aspects early in the story. Emily is quickly established as a strange character when the aldermen enter her decrepit parlor in an useless attempt to gather her taxes. She is referred to as looking “… puffed up, like a body long submerged in stationary water, and of that pallid hue. She firmly insists that the aldermen discuss the tax scenario with a man who has been dead for a years. If she is not yet a sinister character, she is certainly strange. In section 2 of the story, the unexplained odor originating from her house, the odd relationship she has with her dad, and the tip that insanity may run in her family by the recommendation to her “crazy” great-aunt, old woman Wyatt, are elements that, at the very least, mean the Gothic nature of the story. Emily’s purchase of arsenic must leave no doubt at that point that the story is causing a Gothic conclusion.
It would seem that a reader would need to be extremely naive not to suspect that something dreadful is going to occur at the end of the story. It is Emily’s horrible deed that continues to mesmerize readers. Why would she do something so ghastly? How could she kill a male and bed his corpse? This line of questioning leads to a psychological assessment of Emily’s character. David Minter, in William Faulkner: His Life and Work, keeps in mind in numerous different passages the substantial influence that Sigmund Freud, the father of modern-day psychoanalysis, had on Faulkner’s fiction.
Freud thought that repression, especially if it is sexual in nature, frequently leads to mental problem. In the story, Emily’s overprotective, self-important daddy rejects her a regular relationship with the opposite sex by chasing away any possible mates. Since her father is the only guy with whom she has had a close relationship, she denies his death and keeps his remains in her house till she breaks down 3 days later on when the doctors insist she let them take the body.
Later in the story, the women of the town and her 2 female cousins from Alabama work to undermine her relationship with Homer Barron. Of course, the storyteller recommends that Homer himself may not precisely be enthusiastic about marrying Emily. However, it is left to the reader to picture the precise circumstances causing Homer’s denoument. Lastly, Emily takes the offensive by poisoning Homer so he can’t desert her. The discovery of a strand of her hair on the pillow beside the rotting remains suggests that she slept with the cadaver or, even worse, made love with it.
Emily’s repressive life for that reason contributes to her (rather serious) mental problem: necrophilia. Some readers have interpreted the story as an allegory of the relations between the North and the South. This is apparently because the character of Homer Barron is a Yankee and Emily kills him. Nevertheless, it would be difficult to argue that Emily’s motivation in dating Homer is to kill him because he is a Northerner. The most obvious explanation for her determination to date a male outside of her social caste would be that she is just a very lonely lady.
A less obvious, however nonetheless sensible, explanation for her relationship with Homer would be that is her method of rebelling against her dead daddy. Throughout his life time, her father prevented her from having an “appropriate” suitor. Therefore, she rebels by connecting with a man her dad would have considered a pariah: a Yankee day-laborer. There is actually little to recommend that the story is an allegory of the Civil War other than the reality that a Yankee is eliminated by a Southerner. Faulkner himself, in his lecture on the story at the University of Virginia, denies such an analysis.
He stated that he thought that a writer is “… too hectic trying to create flesh-and-blood individuals that will stand and cast a shadow to have time to be concious of all the significance that he may take into what he does or what individuals might check out into it.” One can more with confidence argue that “A Rose for Emily” is a meditation on the nature of time. Although the story is just a couple of pages long, it covers approximately three-quarters of a century. Faulkner skillfully constructed the story to reveal the elusive nature of time and memory. A number of critics have composed papers in efforts to develop a chronology for the story.
It would definitely please Faulkner that few of these chronologies follow each other. In “A Rose for Emily, he is not interested in actual dates. He is more interested in the conflict between time as a subjective experience and time as a force of physics. For example, in section 5 of the story, the storyteller describes the very old men gathered at Emily’s funeral The old males, some who battled in the Civil War, erroneously think that Emily was a modern of theirs when in reality Emily was born at some point around the Civil War. The old guys have confused “… ime with its mathematical development, as the old do, to whom all the past is not a reducing roadway however, instead, a big meadow which no winter ever rather touches, divided from them now by the narrow traffic jam of the most recent years of years.” Here, Faulkner exceptionally and poetically discuss the human need to deny the passage of time and the remarkable capacity of the human mind to use memory in that ultimately useless denial. Emily, obviously, has other methods of rejecting time. Considering that the rejection of time is useless, it is likewise tragic. This is one factor the story can be checked out as a tragedy.
But every tragedy needs a hero or heroine. Can Emily really be thought about a tragic heroine? In the beginning glance, this is a difficult sell. Lots of readers rather reasonably think that Emily is some sort of monster, despite what Freud might have stated. Nevertheless, as lots of critics have actually kept in mind, Faulkner’s title suggests that he might think otherwise. “In his fiction,” notes Minter in his biography of Faulkner, “he typically socializes empathy and judgement. Even his most horrible bad guys … he treats with substantial sympathy.” Emily is such an example.
In truth, the storyteller two times explains Emily as an idol. Although she dedicates a foul crime, Faulkner views Emily as a victim of her situation. Faulkner despised slavery and racism, but he admired much of the chivalry and honor of the old South. Emily is a product of that society and she clings frantically to it as when she refuses to quit her daddy’s body. She likewise becomes a victim of her old society. The one time in her life that she attempts to let the past become a “lessening road,” that is, when she dates Homer, she is mocked, ostracized, shamed, and finally jilted.
Her action is an effort to actually freeze time by poisoning Homer and keeping his corpse in her ghoulish boudoir. Finally, it is a tribute to Faulkner’s talent that this compact yet expansive story provides itself to a lot of interpretations. The conversation above briefly describes the most common interpretations made by readers and critics. However, there is a lot of scholarship, whole volumes, written on “A Rose for Emily.” Numerous critics, including Isaac Rodman in The Faulkner Journal and Milinda Schwab in Research Studies in other words Fiction, have actually presented persuading arguments of the town’s complicity in Homer’s murder.
Lots of critics written interesting papers on literary allusions that they discover in the story; at the same time, lots of critics discover allusions to “A Rose for Emily” in contemporary literature. (A fascinating paper might be composed comparing and contrasting Faulkner’s Emily with the character of Norman Bates, the schizophrenic, homicidal hotel-keeper/amateur taxidermist of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 movie, Psycho.) “A Rose for Emily” stays an exceptional, provocative work no matter the crucial approach.