Lessening the Heartache in Life: Faulkner's View Through Rose-Colored Glasses

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William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” weaves the tale of the troubled Miss Emily Grierson as she struggles against the modernization taking place around her that threatens to disrupt her idealized perception of the past, a woman who is so incapable of adaptation, that she wages a crusade of personal isolation against the changing times in order to protect the only way of life she has ever known. Faulkner tells us Emily herself is a tradition, “Alive Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care” (p 125). As such, her character is depicted as the physical embodiment of tradition, giving human form to the concept of stasis of time, in that she stubbornly stays the same over the years despite, or more accurately, in spite of, the many changes going on around her. Faulkner also refers to her as an “idol”, which furthers the concept of her personification of the past. Emily, much like a statue erected in the town square to pay homage to past idols, is literally frozen in time. She refuses mail service, refuses to pay taxes, and eventually refuses to leave her home, effectively blunting the progression of time, and leaving the townspeople to speculate on the strange recluse that is Miss Emily Grierson. Her inability to let go of the past paralyzes her and prevents her from embracing any kind of future, or even functioning in the present. Her unwillingness to accept the change that inevitably accompanies passing time provides the framework for a less obvious, but no less important, underlying theme in “A Rose for Emily”.

It is human nature to create an altered reality that is more suitable for habitation both physically and emotionally to protect the psyche. It is within this innately human subjective perception of realit...

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...d her secrets upon her death. Through her self-imposed isolation, she was able to live a life in which she was not a lonely spinster woman, but a life in which she slept every night in the embrace of her one true love, Homer Barron. While the life she lived may have been based in her own madness, for her, it may have been a rosy life indeed. However, a life experienced through the shade of rose-colored glasses usually presents a somber reality. Herein, lays the danger of succumbing to a life experienced only through a rosy hue. The individual is unable to sense their own descent into madness, and those watching are loathe to recognize the tragedy that has befallen them all.

Works Cited

Faulkner, William. “A Rose For Emily.” The Broadview Anthology Of Short Fiction. Ed. Julia

Gaunce and Suzette Mayr. Ontario: Broadview Press, 2004. 125-30. Print.

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