Adapting to Change and Accepting Reality
“A Rose for Emily” and “Miss Brill”
In William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” and Katherine Mansfield’s “Miss Brill” the reader is given a glimpse into the lives of two elderly women living in two entirely different worlds but sharing many similar characteristics. First, Miss Brill and Miss Emily attempt to adapt to change in a changing environment. Second, they have their own versions of facing reality. The authors use change and facing reality to illustrate how some characters can adapt to change and accept reality and how some characters cannot. Through the authors’ use of imagery, it becomes very clear to the reader that Miss Brill is more successful than Miss Emily at adapting to change and accepting reality.
Miss Brill is more successful with adapting to change and facing reality. Instead of hiding away in the “cupboard,” she emerges to participate in life. She adapts to the world that is changing as she gets older, rather than lose her sanity or commit crimes. Although she thinks that she is an actress in a play, she has her own versions of reality. However, it doesn’t take her long to accept reality. In contrast, Miss Emily isn’t successful with adapting to change or accepting reality. She rarely goes outside her house to participate in what life has to offer. She kills her potential suitor, Homer Barron, and loses her sanity to control her environment. Throughout the story, Emily refuses to adapt to any of the changes going on in her town. She refuses to hang numbers on her mailboxes or pay taxes. Critic Andrew Dutton states, “Faulkner sets the state for this story perfectly at the beginning when he describes Emily's house. He writes about old symbols of the south and then transposes them against an image of modernization. This causes Emily's house to seem awkward and out of place against the backdrop of the changing town.” (Dutton 1) The house is the most important image of the story because it seems like...
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