A Rose for Emily Short Analysis

Topics: Theodor W. Adorno, Reality, Marxism Pages: 5 (1799 words) Published: April 2, 2011
Negative Knowledge Model by Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno Adorno’s own view is that art and reality stand at a distance from each other and that this distance gives ‘the work of art a vantage-point from which it can criticize actuality’ (Adorno 1977:160). He said, this critical distance comes from the fact that literature has its own ‘formal laws’. The first law is the ‘procedure and techniques’ which in modern art ‘dissolve the subject matter and reorganize it’ (1977:153). Second, he says that art is the ‘essence and image’ of reality rather than its photographic reproduction. An image in a work of art comes for Adorno from the artist (the subject) absorbing in the creative process what they perceive in reality (the object).

Adorno takes reality to be not empirical world we see through our eyes or through camera lens but the dialectical totality, a structure which can only be perceived by a process of thought linking things together and seeing how they effectively are. He also emphasizes the alienated nature of reality in contemporary Western society, a world where people appear to be at the mercy of the mechanical laws of the market and of a rationalized and bureaucratic State.

The literary work does not give us a neatly-shaped reflection and a knowledge of reality but acts within reality to expose its contradictions. ‘Art is the negative knowledge of the actual world’ (1977: 160). It means knowledge which can undermine and negate a false or reified condition. He opens up modernist writing to Marxist literary theory by showing that a different kind of relationship between the text and reality is possible: one of distance and negative knowledge rather than reflection.

II. I She does not pay for the tax.
She refuses to pay taxes in Jefferson because the long dead Colonel Sartoris told her that she was not obligated to, because some privilages was given as the dispensation dating from the death of her father. There is a conspiracy, which is done by the Colonel Sartoris. Emily is insistent upon not paying the taxes and sends the tax collectors away.

“Colonel Sartoris invented an involved tale to the effect that Miss Emily’s father had loaned money to the town, which the town, as a matter of business, preferred this way of repaying.” (1.3)

“I have no taxes in Jefferson. Colonel Sartoris explained it to me. Perhaps one of you can gain access to the city records and satisfy yourselves.”(1.8) In the Civil War, by drawing so many white men into the army, indeed, the war multiplied the importance of the black work force. The next generation of the authority was so reluctant to push Miss Emily to pay her taxes. Miss Emily Grierson is the socialite of her town. “It was a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies, set on what had once been our most select street. But garages and cotton gins had encroached and obliterated even the august names of that neighborhood; only Miss Emily's house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps – an eyesore among eyesores.” (1.2)

The fact that the house was built in the 1870s tells us that Miss Emily's father must have been doing pretty well for himself after the Civil War. The narrator's description of it as an "eyesore among eyesores" is a double or even triple judgment. The narrator doesn't seem to approve of the urban sprawl. We also speculate that the house is an emblem of money probably earned in large part through the labors of slaves, or emancipated slaves. The final part of this judgment has to do with the fact that the house was allowed to decay and disintegrate. Naturally with this status there is a certain reputation she has to withhold. She not only represents her family name but in a sense the people of her town...
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