A Rose for Emily (Frozen in Time: a Rose Will Never Grow)

Topics: A Rose for Emily, Aristocracy, Joyce Carol Oates Pages: 6 (2043 words) Published: December 9, 2005
Frozen In Time: A Rose Will Never Grow
Published in 1930 by William Faulkner, "A Rose for Emily" is revealed to be a disturbing and yet somewhat intriguing tale of murder. The story is set approximately from 1884-1920 in the small, southern, antebellum town of Jefferson, Mississippi. Aristocracy is definitely seen to be the burden within this work, showing that privilege is a prison. Whereas some readers could consider the main character, Emily Grierson, as murderous; she could also be seen as a tragic heroine forced to uphold her family's name to society's standards by any means necessary--even death.

There are many evidentiary facts throughout this work which lead its readers to believe that Emily is coerced into her acts of murder. The first signs of society's impression on Emily were definitely seen through her father's actions and his strong bond to his past, aristocracy. During this work, Emily's mother was absent, possibly dying during Emily's birth, therefore, Emily's father is destined to control every aspect of her life. Miss Emily was raised to be very dependent on only the male figures found within her life, especially her father. This definitely set the type of interaction that she would have with the male figures throughout her life. Even though there were few, Miss Emily was dependent and unable to let go of the men that she encountered during her life. The first male figure in Miss Emily's life, and the one that caused Emily's dependency, is her father. Emily receives suitors, all of which her father denies her, ruling her life with an iron fist. Emily is violated by her father's strict mentality. After the death of her father, she refuses to let go and holds his corpse hostage for three days, finally giving him a speedy burial. However, later in the work, "On a tarnished gilt easel before the fireplace stood a crayon portrait of Miss Emily's father," and she sat watching it for long periods of time which could explain her refusing to release herself from her father or his memory (Faulkner 30). So, even in death, her father still controls all of Emily's actions and decisions--always watching over her.

She never really had a healthy relationship with any men or women, for that matter. In this work, Faulkner portrayed women as crazy, reclusive, nosy creatures who followed the laws of the antebellum aristocracy. This certainly didn't help to bring Emily out of her proverbial shell but rather condemned her to a life of social exile. The women of the town notice strange occurrences but attribute them as other things, so not to embarrass Emily--"a lady". Readers could surmise that Emily assumed that the townspeople respected her, but perhaps the town's scrutiny forced Emily into her reclusive lifestyle at the end. Miss Emily is denied normal participation in the life of the community because she represents a traditional aristocracy of a higher social class than most people. Readers can easily see that Emily symbolizes the past and cannot possibly take part in the present state--the community. Emily is a source of mystery and intrigue for the community part due to the oddity of her behavior derived from her isolation and resistance to change, but there is also a curiosity brought about by her class. As a member of one of the oldest families in Jefferson, Emily embodies, for the community, the vision of the "lady" as incorporated in the myths and the reality of the antebellum South. This situation, created by her heredity, is accentuated by the community, which denies Miss Emily a normal life by regarding her as their symbol of the past. Also, after her social ostracizing, the druggist should have placed more thought into giving Emily the arsenic without knowing reason for purchasing it. Emily demands the poison twice, then says that she needs arsenic even though the druggist tries to give her other poisons which would suffice for killing rats. She then states, "I want arsenic" and...

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Dillon, George L. "Styles of Reading." Polk 47-62.
Gioia, Dana and X.J. Kennedy. "A Rose for Emily." Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. 9th ed. Pearson Longman, 2005. 29-36.
Polk, Noel, ed. William Faulkner 's "A Rose for Emily." The Harcourt Casebook Series in Literature. Fort Worth: Harcourt, 2000.
Scherting, Jack. "Emily Grierson 's Oedipus Complex: Motif, Motive, and Meaning in Faulkner 's ‘A Rose for Emily. '" Polk, 110-119.
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