The Alienation of Emily Grierson

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In William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily", a woman of noble origin, Emily Grierson, finds herself alone isolated in a small town in the Old South. The isolation is not only a result of the townspeople's perception of Emily's status in the community, but also as a result of their pity towards her. Emily, herself, is also to blame for the separation she experiences from the rest of the town. This ominous alienation that some individuals encounter can sometimes lead to horrible, and even, disgusting behavior, as in Emily's case. In "A Rose for Emily", Faulkner shows how the alienation felt by Emily Grierson caused by the townspeople, the death of her father, and her own self, enables her to commit an act of grotesqueness.

Emily's feeling of alienation probably began when she was younger. She was raised to feel as if she was more prestigious and respectable than the rest of the town. Her family was wealthy and thought to be noble. This is evident especially when Emily began having relations with Horner Barron, "because the ladies all said, ‘Of course a Grierson would not think seriously of a Northerner, a day laborer'" (4). Also, when her father died, Faulkner portrays the people as being somewhat satisfied, "At last they could pity Miss Emily…she had become humanized" (4). Even then, Emily "carried her head high enough…as if she demanded more than ever the recognition of her dignity as the last Grierson" (5). It seems as if Emily had never really been welcomed, or even wanted to be welcomed, into the town's faction, leaving her to withdraw only further into her own anomalous world.

Constant pitying from the townspeople contributed to Emily's remote feelings, causing her to feel more alienated and, therefore, falling more susceptible to paranoia and madness. "Poor Emily" is the theme and mood throughout Faulkner's story (4). Numerous events, such as, the death of Emily's father and her family dispute leaving her all alone at his funeral, causes the...
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