A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner Essay

A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner Essay
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People are social creatures and live resting upon the norms, rules, and traditions established by the society, which plays a significant role in a person’s development, education and life in general. No matter what society people live in, their actions are always discussed, criticized and even frowned upon by other representatives of this environment. In other words, in the scheme of things, it is mostly the society that shapes a person. Unfortunately, very often, it happens that one cannot cope with the pressure imposed by the environment they live in and, consequently, they become its victim. The opposition of a person vs. the society, with its variation “a woman vs. society”, is one of the main themes explored in literature, with William Faulkner’s short story titled A Rose for Emily being one of the brightest examples of literary pieces written on this theme. In his piece, the author describes the influence of the patriarchal society on the life of the main female character and shows how the society holds her back and forces her into insanity.

The main character of the short story under consideration is Emily Grierson, a representative of an old aristocratic family whose wealth is now declining. As a representative of the patriarchal society the action of the short story takes place in, Emily’s father has a direct and, perhaps, the most significant influence on the main female character’s life. The depiction of how the rest of the society perceives the Grierson is perfect in terms of depicting the relationship between the father and his daughter and the influence Emily’s father has on her. Faulkner writes, “We [people in the town] had long thought of them as a tableau, Miss Emily a slender figure in white in the background, her father a spraddled silhouette in the foreground, his back to her and clutching a horsewhip […]”. In this description, the horsewhip stands for control and power Emily’s father exercises over her, while Emily’s depiction as a girl symbolizes her obedience. In fact, the description is the reflection of the norms and traditions of the society. Many critics agree that on a large scale it is her father’s attitude towards Emily that results in her tragedy and inability to cope with her life properly. In accordance with Kaur, “By separating her completely from the rest of the town, he [father] inculcates in her a way of living that is impossible for her to escape until her death” (45). Her controlling and demanding father’s attitude is one of the reasons why Emily is single even after her father’s death.

Apart from her father, it is the society as a whole that pressures Emily a lot. In fact, the audience gets to know about it almost from the very beginning of the short story from the narrator. In the piece under analysis, the narrator appears to be the representative of the community the Griersons live in. He is also a person who, “from beginning to end, spies on the last member of the Grierson family” with the aim to reveal the minor details of their lives (Outon 41). While analyzing the point of view in the short story, it becomes clear that there is an opposition between Emily and the society: the narrator uses the pronoun ‘we’ while talking about people who live in the town, while Miss Emily stays Miss Emily throughout the story.

Emily’s control is taken away from her even after her father’s death. People in the town do thing they are trying to help her; in the reality, though, they are locking her in her own house. The matter is that the community is obsessed with discussing Emily’s life and interfering with it. By their rumors, people prevent her from leaving the house because she does not want to be the talk of the town. What is more, they even try to examine her house, send a minister to talk to her and write to Emily’s cousins so that they come and see what is happening. It is of no surprise that the main character does not want to leave her house and let somebody in it as well.

Thus Emily appears to be a victim of a patriarchal society. From the very beginning of her life, she is controlled by her father and then, after his death, people in the town adopt his practices. The main character is devoid of the basic right for freedom because the society keeps an eye on all her actions and decision. Being a captive in her own house, Emily goes crazy and dies, while the society lives on.

Works Cited
Faulkner, W. “A Rose for Emily.”. N.p. Web. 26 Feb 2015. .
Kaur, R. “Feminist Undertones in The Mill on the Floss and A Rose for Emily.” International Indexed and Refereed research Journal. 5.51 (2013): 45-47. Print.
Outon, C. B. “The Conflict Between Woman and Community in Two Short Stories by William Faulkner.”. N.p., 1997. Web. 26 Feb 2015. .