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The Unambiguous Use Of Symbolism In A Rose For Emily

Powerful Essays
The Unambiguous Use of Symbolism in A Rose for Emily
“Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town” (Faulkner 1). Emily, a member of the town’s elite class, relied upon her father when growing up and after his death, she refused to pay her taxes stating that her father contributed much to society. But it was evident that she didn’t pay them because of a lack of maturity - financially and socially. When she was younger, she pushes herself onto Homer Barron, a Northerner with no interest in marriage. Throughout the story, Emily is conflicted over societal change and clings to her privileged manner even after finding herself in poverty. Yet, she becomes involved with a man from a lower
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As a result, she becomes even more emotionally troubled, leading to her killing Homer. After her father dies, Emily denies that he is dead. Had the authorities not intervened, she would have kept the corpse - proving she is not rational. Subsequently, Emily falls sick but when she recovers, and is seen in public by the townspeople“her hair was cut short, making her look like a girl” (3). Emily’s juvenile appearance is symbolic of her sexual immaturity because her father deprived her of her many chances to marry. As a result, Emily goes to extreme lengths to control her life when it becomes apparent that Homer is uninterested in marriage. Emily killed Homer in order to take command of her life, something she has been unable to do while her father was still alive. As time progresses, Homer “disappears” and Emily’s chance at marriage is gone. Her hair is described as, “vigorous iron-gray, like the hair of an active man” (5). The fact that Emily’s hair is depicted like that of a man implies that she has disregarded her community’s standards on how a woman should act, evident through her dominance over Homer. Furthermore, the gray hair also represents the death of Emily’s sexuality because at her age, she is unable to love or marry another man. When Emily dies, the townspeople gather to look inside the house no one has seen in ten years. Inside, they see the bed Homer Barron’s corpse lies and beside his head, “in the second pillow was the indentation of a head [...] we saw a long strand of iron-gray hair” (7). The hair next to him suggests that Emily slept beside his dead body, showing her emotional volatility. No one in a normal state of mind would sleep next to a dead body. As a result, Emily’s hair represents her immaturity. As her hair changes, her state of mind worsens resulting in the murder of her romantic interest
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