Changing Perspective - a Rose for Emily

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Changing perspective is the concept of factors such as time, experiences and changing values within a society affecting or altering a previous understanding or perception of something. In William Faulkner’s short story “A Rose for Emily”, the townspeople’s change in perspective towards the protagonist, Emily Grierson, is evident throughout the story. As well as the townspeople, the reader’s perspective of Emily changes in response to the events that unfold. This is conveyed through techniques like characterisation, the use of collective first person pronouns and the unchronological order of events. Through the use of characterisation, the reader is encouraged to alter their initial perspective of Emily as her character is revealed. The initial perception was that she was well-liked and respected; a “fallen monument”. As the story progresses and her nature and a murder are uncovered, the reader is influenced to reconsider this initial judgment. The characterisation of Emily changes the reader’s perspective by exposing her multifaceted and dark nature after portraying her as lonely “pauper”. The use of ‘we’, a collective first person pronoun, shows a shared change in perspective within the town. It is evident that the townspeople quickly change their perspective on Emily by making immediate assumptions from what they observe. When they saw her buying arsenic, they believed “She was going to kill herself”. As soon as they saw Homer Barron and Emily together, they assumed “She will marry him”. These theories show quick changes in perspective amongst the townspeople. The use of ‘we’ reinforces a collective change in perspective and invites the reader to change their perspective on Emily. Third person narration encourages the reader to form an opinion on Emily from what is observed by the narrator who is one of the townspeople. Giving the reader an “outsider’s” glimpse of Emily’s life offers a more subjective view of the story. However, this opinion of Emily is...
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