Symbolism of the House in "A Rose for Emily"

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Miles Dendy
Mr. Treffinger
English 102-001
27 May 2013
Symbolism of the House in “A Rose for Emily”
A “Rose for Emily,” a work of fiction by William Faulkner, depicts the life of a rich, southern, crazed, mysteriously estranged woman, Emily Grierson, the main character, who stubbornly defies reason and change in a town as effort to maintain what she idolizes. Despite the long struggle and a life of shadowy solitude, Emily eventually succumbs to death, an event which reveals main character’s darkest secret -- murder. As is often the case in reality, a house personifies the owner. In this story, Faulkner masterfully uses the Grierson house to show Emily’s soul – reflecting the regression, isolation, and the deterioration that affects her personality – developing Emily’s character while maintaining enough mystery to support the author’s O’Henry ending. The author describes the Grierson house as a grand white house, typical of Southern aristocracy, as the most beautiful residence on the finest street in the town in glory days. By the event of Emily’s passing, Faulkner notes the encroachment of time and industrialization on the house,”…lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and gas pumps – an eyesore among eyesores” (91). This description personifies Emily’s life and struggle in the Grierson house as Faulkner allows Emily to fall from the Grierson family’s greatness into a decline precipitated by persistent regression. Additionally, the author’s description of the house provides a veiled insight to the main character’s murderous obsession with romance -- not revealed until after Emily’s death.

Faulkner uses the town’s inquiry of Emily’s willful tax delinquency to chronicle the Grierson home late in Emily’s life. “It smelled of dust and disuse – a closed dank smell” (92), Faulkner’s townsmen descry before giving an account of the cracking leather upholstery in the shadow-dimmed dwelling. Here, Faulkner paints the house as a...
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