Southern Gothic Literary Tradition

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Southern Gothic Literary Tradition
Jamie Friend
South University Online

Miss Emily Grierson fits the description of Southern Gothic tradition in “A Rose for Emily” due to the fact that she is portrayed as a character with symptoms of mental illness that cause her to do horrific things. She is also a symbol of respect in the town and considered a “fallen monument” (Faulkner, 1930, p. 543). The community of Jefferson never thought Miss Emily was “crazy”, but that she was an ill person. Although, there were many instances within the story that suggested that she was mentally unstable. The reader of “A Rose for Emily” might come to this conclusion because of the conditions Emily lived in as a Southern woman. Her father kept her isolated from the outside world and the young men who came to see her and this may have made her mentally ill. With the death of her father and the family being of wealth in the community, along with the views others had of Emily as having a “hereditary obligation” (Faulkner, 1930, p. 543) to continue the traditions that had been happening for generations, were hard for Miss Emily to continue because of her mental illness. It was stated by the narrator that Miss Emily had been “sick for a long time” (Faulkner, 1930, p. 543), but there was no mention of what her illness was. The death of her father made her mental illness more noticeable. This was told by the quote that Emily had “no trace of grief on her face” (Faulkner, 1930, p. 543) when the women of the town come to give their condolences and maybe even more so when Miss Emily insisted that “her father was not dead” (Faulkner, 1930, p. 543). It seems Emily may have killed her father because of the life that she had with him. Even with all of the noticeable symptoms the community still helped Miss Emily to believe in that she was okay. There were other episodes of Miss Emily’s mental illness in the story, such as when she states she has “no taxes in Jefferson”...
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