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A Rose For Emily Symbolism Essay

“A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner is a remarkable tale of Miss Emily Grierson, whose funeral drew the attention of the entire population of Jefferson a small southern town. Miss Emily was raised in the antebellum period before the Civil War in the south. An unnamed narrator, who is considered to be “the town” or at least the collaborative voice of it, aligns key moments in Emily’s life, including the death of her father and her brief relationship with a man from the north named Homer Barron. In short, this story explains Miss Emily’s strict and repetitive ways and the sullen curiosity that the townspeople have shown toward her.

Rising above the literal level of Emily’s narrative, the story basically addresses the symbolic changes in the South after the civil war. Miss Emily’s house symbolizes neglect, and impoverishment in the new times in the town of Jefferson. Beginning with Miss Emily Grierson’s funeral, throughout the story Faulkner foreshadows the ending and suspenseful events in Miss Emily’s life, and Miss Emily’s other impending circumstances. “A Rose for Emily” tells the tale of a young woman who lives and abides by her father’s strict rational. The rampant symbolism and Falkner’s descriptions of the decaying house, coincide with Miss Emily’s physical and emotional decay, and also emphasize her mental degeneration, and further illustrate the outcome of Falkner’s story. Miss Emily’s decaying house, not only lacks genuine love and care, but so douse she in her adult life, but more so during her childhood.

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The pertinence of Miss Emily’s house in relation to her physical appearance is brought on by constant neglect and unappreciation. As an example, the house is situated in what was once a prominent neighbourhood that has now deteriorated. Originally the house was, ” It was a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies”(Falkner 80) of an earlier time, now many of the townspeople see that the house has become “an eyesore among eyesores”.

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Through lack of attention, the house has deteriorated from a beautiful estate to an ugly desolate shack. Similarly, Miss Emily has also become an eyesore in the following various ways. An example, she is first described as a “fallen monument” to suggest her former grandeur and her later ugliness. Miss Emily might have stayed out of the public eye after these two deaths which left her finally alone, something she was not used to. When Miss Emily died Jefferson lost a prominent monument of the Old South. This story by Falkner contains a high rate of symbolism thoroughly distributed and revealed by shady foreshadowing. Just as the house has, Miss Emily has lost her beauty. Once she had been a beautiful woman, who later becomes obese and bloated. In this post-civil war town, the great estate and Miss Emily has suffered the toll of time and neglect.

As the exterior, the interior of the house as well resembles Miss Emily’s increasing decent and the growing sense of sadness that accompanies such a downfall. All that is told of the inside of Miss Emily’s house is a dim hall, where a staircase is mounted into descending darkness, with the house smelling of foul odours. The combined darkness and odour of the house relate with Miss Emily in some of the following ways, with her dry and cold voice as if it were scrappy and dry from disuse just like her house.

The similarity between the inside of the house and Miss Emily extends to the mantel, where there is a portrait of her father and Miss Emily sitting there. Internally and externally, both Miss Emily’s building and her body are in a state of deterioration and tarnishment like a metallic material. An example is when she refused to let the “new guard” attach metal numbers above her door and fasten a mailbox when the town received free mail service. This reflected Miss Emily’s unyielding and stubborn persona caused by and related to her father’s strict treatment of her when she was young.

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In ending, the citizen’s illustrations of both house and its occupant relate a common unattractive presence. As an example, Faulkner expresses a lot of the resident’s opinions towards Emily and her family’s history. The citizens or the narrator mention old lady Wyatt, Miss Emily’s great aunt who had gone completely mad. Most of these opinions seem to result from female citizens of the town because of their nosy and a gossipy approach toward Miss Emily. In one point that Falkner makes, the house is described to be stubborn and unrelenting, as if to ignore the surrounding decay. Similarly, Miss Emily proudly surveys her deteriorating once-grand estate.

Like her father Miss Emily possesses an unrelenting outlook towards life, and she refuses to change. Miss Emily’s father never left her alone, and when he died Homer Barron was a treat that she was never allowed to have and served as a replacement for her father’s love. Miss Emily’s stubborn attitude is definitely attributed to her father’s strict teachings. Miss Emily lies to herself as she denies her father’s death, refuses to discuss or pay taxes, ignores town gossip about her being a fallen woman, and does not reveal to the druggist why she is purchasing arsenic. Both the house and Miss Emily become traps for a representation of the early twentieth century, to which is Homer Barron, laborer, outsider, and confirmed bachelor is the complete paradox. Homer described himself as a man who couldn’t be tied down and is always on the move. This leaves Miss Emily in a terrible position.

As the story winds down, Emily seems to prove Homer wrong. As the town ladies continue to show surmounting sympathy towards Emily, although she never hears of it verbally. She is well aware of the distant whispers that begin when her presence is near. Some of the major contributing factors to Emily’s behaviour are gossip and whispers that may have been the causes for her ghastly behaviour. The theme of Falkner’s story is quite simple, Miss Emily cannot accept the fact that times are changing and society is growing and changing with the times. As this dilemma ensues she isolates herself from civilization, using her butler to run her errands so she doesn’t have to talk much.

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The setting of Falknes story is highly essential because it defines Miss Emily’s tight grasp of antebellum ways and unchanging demeanour. Just as the house seems to reject progress and updating, so does Miss Emily, until both of them become decaying symbols of their dying generation. Through descriptions of the house resemble descriptions of Mss Emily Grierson, “A Rose for Emily” emphasizes the beauty and elegance can become distorted through neglect and lack of love and affection. As the house deteriorates for forty years until it becomes ugly and unappealing, Miss Emily’s physical appearance and emotional well being decay in the same way.

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A Rose For Emily Symbolism Essay. (2021, Feb 04). Retrieved March 27, 2023, from