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A Rose for Emily Research Papers

This is an essay on the analysis of A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner. All aspects of literary analysis with be used to compose the research paper. Custom research papers on Faulkner's works such as A Rose for Emily are Paper Masters specialty.

There are many interesting aspects that you can write research on regarding Faulkner's A Rose for Emily:

A Rose for Emily is a Gothic story, but also one depicting prejudice and small-town attitudes in the South a century ago. It is disturbing, but also enlightening, depicting the pettiness of the women of the town and the weakness of the men, a subtle message that belies the popular belief that men ruled the microcosmic world in which they lived.

A Rose for Emily, by William Faulkner, is the tale of a town, the people in it, and their view of the simplistic, yet illusive to the townspeople, character of Emily Grierson.  The story begins by the graveside of Emily Grierson, a widow, the daughter of a wealthy townsman, and the women who had a brief affair with a man named Homer Barron.  The town attempts to understand what goes on behind the doors of the Grierson house, but they are unable to penetrate it.  The theme of the short story is that Emily, denied of life’s chances, becomes victim of a repressive community and she shuts herself away from them in order to save what little is left of herself.  Lonely, stern and reclusive, Faulkner paints a vivid picture of Emily Grierson through the point of view of the townspeople.

A Rose for Emily is at once a social commentary and a revelation of the attitudes of the townspeople toward Miss Emily, a reclusive, yet fascinating person, in their eyes. The story also focuses on Miss Emily’s anachronistic existence in a once-proud neighborhood that had fallen prey to commercial development, with Faulkner portraying her as a feisty and proud woman untouched by progress.

Faulkner is brilliant at using imagery to make his characters tell their point of view of their lives through mere descriptions of characteristics.  Faulkner illustrates his point of view through words of visual artistry such as “dusty”, “dank”, “desolate” to describe the world that Emily lives in.  The one piece of artistry is a “crayon portrait” of her father, long since dead, but still a presence of the house.  Faulkner describes Emily’s dress as being black and as if in a constant state of mourning.  Her eyes were “two small pieces of coal pressed into a lump of dough”.  None of Faulkner’s language suggests anything but a dismal existence for Emily. “She looked like a body long submerged in motionless water, and of that pallid hue.”  The imagery that Faulkner assigns to Emily is that she is alive, yet dead to life, living a mere shell of an existence. 

This shell of existence is driven by moral corruption. Moral corruption is a central theme, as reflected in the town. In “A Rose For Emily”, the moral decay of the entire town is evident throughout. This is most blatantly evident in the exchange between Emily and the storekeeper in her purchase of arsenic:

“I want arsenic.”

The druggist looked down at her. She looked back at him, erect, her face like a strained flag. “Why of course,’ the druggist said. “If that’s what you want. But the law requires you to tell what you are going to use it for.” Miss Emily just stared at him, her head tilted back in order to look him eye for eye, until he looked away and went and got the arsenic and wrapped it up.

 

The druggist’s attitude is directly representative of the entire town’s moral state, it has become so corrupt, even the laws need not be obeyed.
Point of view is quintessential in the townspeople’s impression of Emily’s life.  To the people of Jamestown, she is an idol.  When they suspect her of foul play after the disappearance of her boyfriend, they sneak around her home an peer through the windows.  As they steal away into the night, they see Emily in the window “her upright torso motionless as that of an idol”.  Emily dominates the community, even though she is only a part of it as an image. 

As far the people of the town can tell, the dynamic between the two is clear. Faulkner uses symbolism to illustrate the true nature of the relationship with the example of the portrait of Emily and her father.  “We 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 an clutching a horsewhip, the two of them framed by the backflung front door.”   This is a very important sentence in the story because it reveals three things through the picture.  Firstly, the fact that the town thought of them “as tableau”, which means an ever present statue or scene that stands motionless in time and is to be contemplated.  They stand ever present within the town and are symbols of what they represent to the townspeople.  Secondly, by examining the position and dress of Emily, we note that she is dressed in white, the symbolism of virginity.  She is a barrier to the doorway, which symbolizes that only she blocks the world that her father and she live in and the true nature of their world cannot be known, except through her allowing entrance.  Lastly, her father’s silhouette is a symbol of his presence in her life, always in the background, even after death.  The horsewhip he carries symbolizes the control he had over her, again, in life and in death.

The end of “A Rose for Emily” leaves the reader with a sense of what Faulkner is attempting to convey through point of view.  The picture of Emily in the window and the townspeople never sure if she was looking at them or not, gave Emily a detached control over the people who did not understand or accept her.  As William Faulkner said himself of Emily, she was "a young girl that just wanted to be loved and to love and to have a husband and a family".

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