The short story “A rose for Emily” published in 1930 by William Faulkner focuses on the life of Emily Grierson, a woman who is from a rich family and, now has to deal with her loneliness after her father’s death. Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” is a complex and dark story that keeps readers guessing and intrigued by Faulkner’s abundant use of literally elements. Faulkner’s use of symbolism in the story is used to enhance the plot and create meaning. The point of view by the use of the unnamed narrator in “A Rose for Emily” makes readers question the identity of the speaker.
A Rose for Emily” recalls the terms of Southern gothic literature that sets the tone of the story as gloomy and grotesque. In the story “A Rose for Emily” Faulkner uses unconventional symbols. Symbols give readers a greater understanding of the setting and help define Miss Emily’s character. The use of symbolism plays a important role in revealing the story’s theme. The main character Miss Emily Grierson is devastated after her father’s death. The townspeople fell sorry for Miss Emily in the beginning of the story. She meets a man Homer Barron shortly after her father’s death and everyone disapproves of this relationship.
Miss Emily’s house is a main symbol in the “A Rose for Emily”. Faulkner compares Emily to her house in many ways “Miss Emily’s house represents “stubborn and coquettish decay” above new generations and traditions, “an eyesore among eyesores” (Faulkner, 666). Faulkner is making a comparison between Miss Emily and the house saying both have had constant neglect. Emily wanted a house she could love someone in and be her own person. She thought she might have this with Homer Barron but later in the story we find out that they house had become Emily’s prison ith Homer Barron’s rotting corpse inside the house. “The house has been closed to the public for ten years. It “smelled of dust and disuse – a closed, dank smell”, and when visitors were seated a “faint dust” rose “sluggishly about their thighs” (Faulkner, 667) “A Rose for Emily” is written in first person. The unnamed narrator seems to be the townspeople collective voice. The narrator makes readers wonder how much they know, and who he or she really is. At the end of the story, when the townspeople discover Homer’s body the narrator states “Already we knew that there was a bedroom had been sealed up.
We the readers never get find out how the narrator knows about the room or who the narrator is Melczarek describes hes is fustratued by this unnamed narrator. “Emily and the narrator get away with their respective “it”s and leave readers in an impossible moral quandary in which the nuances and subtlety exceed the boundaries described by “horror”: we know, but we cannot act based on the evidence. “( Melczarek). Another disadvantage to the unnamed narrator is readers don’t get to know the true thoughts of Miss Emily. Readers of this story often question if Miss Emily is insane.
Werlcok states “If Miss Emily is crazy (and most critics agree that she is), Faulkner implies that she has been made so by the constrictions of a father who refused to let her marry and by the conventions of a society that eagerly filled the void at his death. Numerous critics have suggested that behind the gothic horror of necrophilia and insanity in this classic story, Miss Emily Grierson is the oddly modern hero”. (Werlock, Abby H. P. “A Rose for Emily’). We will never know some answers to this story. Using the objective narrator, Faulkner is able to maintain the suspense throughout the story.
Gothic literature presents the same themes such as love lost, hidden secrets, love and death hand in hand, beauty, youth, grotesque characters. “A Rose for Emily” is a Southern Gothic story since the themes of murder and death are present. Throughout the story, the Faulkner describes Emily as lonely. “She looked bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water, and of that pallid hue. Her eyes, lost in the fatty ridges of her face, looked like two small pieces of coal pressed into a lump of dough. “(Faulkner).
When Emily goes into the store and buys poison this leads the readers to believe that something bad is going to happen. The ending of the story also makes it Gothic. Emily secret is revealed that she has had a dead corpse in her house for several years. Emily also slept with the corpse a long grey hair was found next to Homers decaying body. The Gothic elements help give this story a gloomy and creepy tone. “A Rose for Emily” is a story with many different literally devices. Faulkner’s story is very complex and strange. The use of symbolism, point of view and Southern Gothic literature helps the story.