Plot analysis of “A Rose For Emily”
William Faulkner’s, “A Rose for Emily” is a story with a southern gothic style. The tragic story is told to readers through an anonymous narrator that speaks on behalf of the town’s people, but is not close to Emily, the protagonist, personally. This narration helps sustain a level of curiosity about Emily since readers cannot gain personal insight into her life and psyche. It is commonly expressed that the two things of certainty in life are death and taxes, death being one of the main themes that runs throughout the story. There is a time when Emily seems to be above human certainty in the way of taxes. This aversion to one certainty seems to amplify the other in her life, because the rest of the story contains nothing but death; the death of people, beauty, ideals, everything that once guarded Emily from the rest of the world. Even though it is in vain, the protagonist’s motivation behind everything she does is to make time stand still, thus trying to avoid the other human certainty, death.
As a result of the story beginning with Emily’s funeral, readers are introduced to Miss Emily’s struggle with her antagonist, time, through the setting she lives in. Miss Emily represents a bi-gone era, one that she veils her life of seclusion in, refusing to face the passage of time around her. Her house is in a state of decay just like her body, both marking their loss to time. It was a house that, “had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies…set on what had once been our most select street”(91). The house’s description seems to mimic Emily’s life because at one time she is described as a, “slender figure in white”(93) and it is said that “None of the young men were quite good enough for Miss Emily”(93). It’s as if the house’s once desirable location imitates Emily’s one time desirability among suitors. This symbolism is used again when the house is described as, “lifting it’s stubborn and...
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