Isolation in “a Rose for Emily” and “the Yellow Wallpaper”

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Isolation in “a Rose for Emily” and “the Yellow Wallpaper”

By | April 2010
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“A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner and “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman are two well written short stories that entail both similarities and differences. Both short stories were written in the late 1800’s early 1900’s and depict the era when women were viewed less important than men. The protagonist in each story is a woman, who is confined in solitary due to the men in their lives. The narrator in “A Rose for Emily” is the mutual voice of the townspeople of Jefferson, while Emily Grierson is the main character in the story that undergoes a sequence of bad events. The unnamed, female narrator in “The Yellow Wallpaper” is also the main character whose journal we read. This difference in tense gives each story a different outlook on the situations at hand. In “The Yellow Wallpaper” we get the thoughts and actions of the unnamed narrator as she sees it, while in “A Rose for Emily” we get Emily’s thoughts form dialogue and her actions from the narration of the townspeople. A comparison between the protagonist in “A Rose for Emily” and “The Yellow Wallpaper” enables readers to interpret the main character’s isolation from their community and state of mind. In each section of “A Rose for Emily”, the narrator goes back and forth in time telling stories of Miss Emily’s life. Emily’s father was a controlling man who ran off all prospect men of Emily’s (Faulkner 77). This caused Emily to be an unhappy, middle-aged, single woman who was the talk of the town. Miss Emily isolated herself from all people, except having a male Negro housekeeper who ran all her errands and took care of her house. According to Floyd C. Watkins’ “The Structure of ‘A Rose For Emily’ in Modern Language Notes, “The inviolability of Miss Emily’s isolation is maintained in the central division, part three, which no outsider enters her home” (509). In “The Yellow Wallpaper” it is revealed at the beginning of the story that the unnamed female narrator is “sick” or...
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