Theme of Isolation in William Faulkner's A Rose for Emily

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The Theme of Isolation in A Rose for Emily

As an author establishes the characters he simultaneously attempts to develop the theme of the story. An author uses various elements such as point of view, the setting, and symbols to work toward the expression of one central idea. In looking at "A Rose for Emily." a short story by William Faulkner, it is evident that Faulkner successfully carries one main idea throughout the piece, the idea of being isolated from society.

One of the most effective elements that Faulkner uses in his development of this main idea is the use of imagery. He portrays the father of Emily as "a looming possessive figure, a figure of total control and dominance"(Gwin 31). Emily has no say about what goes on in her life. The narrator describes the image of the two.

We had long thought of them as tableau, Miss Emily a slender figure in white in the background, her father a spraddled silhouette in the foreground, his back to her and clutching a horsewhip, the two of them framed by the backflung front door. So when she got to be thirty and was still single, we were not pleased exactly, but vindicated; even with insanity in the family she wouldn't have turned down all of her chances if they had really materialized.

The description in this quotation leaves to conjure up the image of the father keeping Emily down and at home with him. Through his selfishness he isolates her from the rest of "normal" society, separating Emily from other girls her age, denying her of the joy and pleasures experienced by most of her peers.

Faulkner uses the death of her father as a symbol to bring to the forefront a harsh realization for Emily, the fact that she was now truly alone. This has come about through no...

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...ere was a constant conflict within her between the duty of obeying and honoring her father's will that she remain isolated from society and her longing to live life on her own terms and to play a part in normal society no matter how small that part may have been. Unfortunately for Emily, that conflict was never resolved. Even in death her father was pleased that Emily died a lonely and withdrawn frail woman, just as he taught her to be.

Works Cited and Consulted

Backman, Melvin. Faulkner: The Major Years, A Critical Study. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1966

Faulkner, William. "A Rose for Emily." Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Ed. X.J. Kennedy. New York: Harpers Collins, 1991. Pp. 24-31

Gwin, Minrose c. The Femenine and Faulkner: Reading (Beyond) Sexual Difference. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1990
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