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A Rose for Emily

William Faulkner’s story, A Rose for Emily, is an excellent example of the southern Gothic literature since it consists of some features related to this literature, such as death, craziness, old and dark mansion, bizarre events, and mysteries. The tale took place in a small city, in Jefferson, Mississippi. The writer narrates a story of a lady called Miss Emily Grierson living in this city. It is an extraordinary story that tells about a spinster, Emily Grierson, who is aging while living in Jefferson. Her death and funeral touched the hearts of many people in the whole town. The description of the funeral shows this story is as the southern Gothic. This is because the story takes place in a region which lies in the south. Historic events are known to have taken place in the southern Gothic (Faulkner 122).

The story starts with the announcement of Miss Emily’s death; she is a spinster alienated from others in the South, in the early twentieth or late nineteenth century. The narrator speaks using the ‘we’ voice, and it is obvious that he represents the residents of this town. In the novel, Emily is depicted as an impoverished and lonely woman leaving without money from her father, who chased off suitors from his daughter due to his overprotective nature. When the father died, he left Emily with a large and dilapidated house, where the residents of the town have never been invited; when they finally have managed to get into the house after Emily’s death, they got the shocking news that they had not known before. They discovered the whole truth concerning Emily’s problems; she had been keeping her lover’s body, Homer Barron, a Northerner, sheltered in the bedroom because she had killed him some years before her death. The author reveals that a bad Adour was felt emanating from Emily’s house. However, no one was willing to question her because of her dignity. Her family was feared in that land (Judith 86). The corpse is later discovered after the death of Emily.

Character Development


The author illustrates Emily as woman of high caliber. This starts from her father’s treatment of her suitors. Many people had come to seek for her hand in marriage but her father refused. He expected them to pay very high bride prices. High bride prices are only paid to people of high standards. Emily is also illustrated as a loving person. Even though the author does not reveal much about Emily’s love life, the truth is that she had much love in her. She mourns deeply for her father in show of love. The author illustrates her denial of the fact that her father is dead. This is a true indication of love in Emily. Emily is also portrayed as a respectful lady. She waited patiently for marriage. She had the choice of rebelling against her father when he refused many suitors. She however chooses to stay meek. Emily is also evil. Her evil is however a contrast of her usual nature. Evil is seen when she buys a poison and fails to state what she would use it for. Homer’s decomposed corpse is later found in her house (Ceasar 196). She actually killed him. This is an extreme show of evil.


He is a hard working man. This is seen in his involvement in the construction activities in the village. He is also daring. He finds the guts to approach a high ranking lady in Emily. The whole village is surprised that the low level Homer could win Emily to his side. This is a daring spirit.


He is selfish. It is not fair to keen a daughter for a long time without marriage. His refusal of Emily’s suitors worked against Emily. She would have gotten herself a more worthy man save for her father. His selfishness is also seen when he sets the bride price at a high level. He wanted more money in return for her daughter. He is also controlling. He commanded all things that were to happen in the life of Emily (Ceasar 196).



The author has also used symbols in the plot to convey a special message to readers. For instance, the strand of hair the neighbors have seen in Miss Emily’s house is being symbolic. It symbolizes the love loss. It is the illustration of distances people are willing to pass on behalf of love. This strand of hair is extremely significant as it leads the neighbors to the hidden secret that Miss Emily had been keeping all that time. The author’s choice of the symbol is strategic for telling of the hidden events in the short story. As a result, readers are glued to the book in order to grasp each symbol’s feature in relation to the story.

It is evident that the short story, A Rose for Emily, is the small presentation of the people living in the South. From the analysis, it follows that the short story fits the features of a southern Gothic literature. The author manages to keep the reader interested in reading the story. He manages to achieve the purpose of passing his message to readers. The short story is a must read story. It clearly represents the notion of the society gone soar due to the constant alienation people are practicing. It teaches readers working together as the one in order to help each other during difficult times.

Faulkner’s story “A Rose for Emily” represents the feature of evoking chilling gloom and terror by exploiting the horror and mystery. The story ends with the residents of the town exploring the house of Emily after she had died. “One of us raised a little bit from it, and inclining forward, that faded, and imperceptible dust dry and pungent in the nostrils, we saw a long filament of iron-gray hair” (Faulkner 292). The author intentionally wrote this in order for readers to understand that it was meant to horrify them. Additionally, Emily had been sleeping beside the corpse for more than thirty years. The body was reeking and rotting, and all the nights she was sleeping near him. In addition to this, Emily had killed him using rat poison (Faulkner 222). Therefore, the mystery of the story is why one would sleep beside the dead body of a husband killed many years ago.



The prevailing theme in this short story is the power of death. Right from the beginning, the author takes the reader through the experience that Emily had gone through after the demise of her father. Left in the huge house, she had received the company of a young man. However, this did not relieve her of the pain one could see due to the desperation of her father’s death. She remained weak and withdrawn for the rest of society. Later, her lover died. She had been keeping his dead body for 30 years. It is only when she died that her neighbors came to reveal her secrets. This is the indication that the death had provoked the secrets of Emily to be known to her neighbors.

The author explores the power of death in the way it triggered bizarre behavior, like Miss Emily’s (Faulkner, 23). Eventually, Miss Emily ends with killing Homer due because she cannot accept the denial by the love of her life (Judith 196). This is another illustration of the theme of death. Very many deaths take place in this story. The author adds that when the residents of the town realized what Emily had been hiding for many years, they all stood for a long time gazing at the fleshless carcass. They discovered that Emily, who was a quiet, sad, and old lady, was the killer of a young guy many years ago and that she had been sleeping beside his body. The people in the town, at last, saw the wickedness and the dark side of Miss Emily.


The story also shows the hidden and dark side of the situation regarding Emily, an outstanding character in this story. Emily is left by her father after his death, when she was little, had become depressed. The people in the town sympathized with her since she had been a lonely, but polite person. The author describes her as, “…still a slender lady, though thinner than normal, with cold, conceited black eyes in an expression the flesh of which was strained the eye sockets as you picture a lighthouse-keeper’s face should seem to be” (Faulkner 289).

Emily also suffers when Homer leaves her. Emily was in love with Homer Barron, a youthful guy, who after some time disappeared. The entire town understood that the youthful guy left her and sympathized with Emily because of this loss. She must have felt so bad when Homer left her. This was because she could not even leave her house. It is like she was under a self inflicted house arrest.











Works Cited

Faulkner, William. A Rose for Emily: And Other Stories. Canada: Kairyudo, 1956. Print.

Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily”. English Journal 1984: 109, National Council of

Teachers of English. Print.

Faulkner, William, et al. A Rose for Emily. London: Harcourt College Publishers, 2000.


Judith, Ceasar. “Faulkner’s Gay Homer, Once More.” Explicator July-Sept. 2010: vol. 68,

Issue 3, 195-198. Print.




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