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Analysis of A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner

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With every turn of the page, the dark and twisted storyline of “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner leaves the reader in a stronger state of shock and inevitably speechless. Faulkner cleverly uses symbols, characters, and theme to illustrate the inner thoughts of Emily Grierson and the community’s ongoing struggle between tradition and modernism. .

One of the most prominent symbols in the story is Emily’s house. The house represents the destruction of the primitive Southern families and aristocracy that surrounded the neighborhood. The author describes the house as “a big, squarish frame…decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies” (Faulkner 668). Contrary to the time period the house was built, the setting of the story takes place much later than the 1870s when everything in the neighborhood has changed. The neighborhood which was once considered “[the] most select street” had “garages and cotton gins [encroach] and [obliterate] the neighborhood” (Faulkner 668). Nonetheless, the reader is able to conclude based on the house’s exterior appearance that it also represents mental illness and death. The house has been left untouched and as one of the very few visitors noted” [the house] smelled of dust and disuse—a close, dank smell” (Faulkner 669). By leaving the interior of the house unchanged for years, Emily had created a shrine of the past. Consequently, the author has instilled another chilling symbol in the story: a single strand of grey hair. The hair, which is found on a pillow next to the decaying body, represents the loss of love and the perverse actions committed by people in order to remain happy. The strand of hair also gives perspective to Emil...

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...s the laws. For example, when Emily’s house began to send a powerful stench throughout the neighborhood, the townsmen did not want to bother her and instead decided to “cross Miss Emily’s lawn like burglars…and sprinkled lime [around the house]” (Faulkner 670). Furthermore, Emily lives in a world comprised of her own rules and morals. When the community decided to install metallic numbers on the sides of houses when the town receives modern mail, she angrily refuses.

All in all, the story of “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner represents a chilling and twisted story of a woman who used every option, even murder, to keep her state of happiness. Faulkner cleverly uses symbols, characters, and theme to fully illustrate the twisted mind of Emily Grierson and the communities never ending struggle between incorporating modern rules and keeping traditional values.
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