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Literary Analysis of William Faulkner's 'A Rose for Emily'

0 August 11 2014, 14:16 in Literary Essay

Literary Analysis of William Faulkner’s ‘A Rose for Emily’

William Faulkner’s ‘A Rose for Emily’ is considered one of his famous works and examines the story surrounding the mysterious character of Emily Grierson. Looking closely, the piece is divided into five separate sections, each depicting an important event that happened to either Emily or the Grierson family. Since the story is not written in a linear fashion, readers have to carefully piece the parts together to get a better view of what was happening. Faulkner shows the life of Emily using a limited narrator’s standpoint. He carefully pieces together information based on what the narrator hears and observes from the local townsfolk and the limited interactions that Emily makes with the community (Teen Ink 1). It is through such process that story is able to convey the life of the protagonist and her inability to accept death and change as a reality.

One of the underlying themes depicted in the story corresponds to the death. This remains to be evident in the story both in its real and symbolic nature as Emily tries to respond to the reality of each one. From the perspective of the reality, readers are able to comprehend how she handled the death of Mr. Grierson and her supposed love Homer Barron. It is through such feat that readers are able to recognize the power of death and how Emily chose to accept and fight it, only to succumb to this reality in the end (Getty 231). Equally, it also remains to be symbolic in nature particularly in Emily’s resistance to change. Since their family is the only ones remaining in town who represent the past, it also portrays its inevitable death due to its inability to accept change. Her continued insistence to the old social order left her in the state of loneliness and demise.

The story is also analyzed from the lens of an observer. Since the depiction of Emily’s character is influenced by those who have watched her from afar, there clearly are differing opinions about her personality and actions. During her life, she had eluded people and lived in seclusion which further aroused the suspicion of the people surrounding her background and life (Faulkner 1). That is why it can be argued that during Emily’s death, the local townsfolk who visited her did not only seek to show respect but also uncover the true secret behind her personality and what mysteries is the woman trying to hid in all of her life. It is only through then that local townsfolk and readers are able to make sense of what happened.

Faulkner also utilizes symbolisms in order to convey the story to readers. In particular, the strand of hair at the end of the story is a powerful way to showcase that amidst her continuing resistance to accept the change that happened, she remains to be a woman, who sought to pursue her own choices regardless of opinions and standards bestowed (Teen Ink 1). The strand of hair depicts that there was a period in her life that she pursued what she felt was right and felt no qualms about it. Another symbolism used in the story is the Grierson house. Aside from the fact that it serves as remains of the past, it can also portray alienation and man’s fascination to objects. Such reality then provides the justification as to why the house remains to be considered as a mystery by the local towns’ folk.

Overall, ‘A Rose for Emily’ remains to be one of Faulkner’s well known works because of the numerous underlying symbolisms and meaning offered by the story. Even if at first the story appears to be mysterious and eerie, the ability of Faulkner to expose it all in the end demonstrates the struggle of the woman to hang on to something she loved so dear. It is through such reason that the title befits her name since her exploits, though eventually led to her isolation and demise, deserves to be given a rose.

Works Cited

Faulkner, William. ‘A Rose for Emily’ FJU.edu.1930. Web. Accessed 18 July 2014.

Getty, Laura. ‘Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily’ The Explicator. 63.4(2005): 230-234.

Teen Ink. Critical Analysis of "A Rose for Emily” 2012. Web. Accessed 18 July 2014.


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