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A Rose for Emily William Faulkner

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1 A Rose for Emily William Faulkner
The author born in New Albany, Mississippi in 1897 one of the most important writers of the Southern literature of the United States, along with Mark Twain, Robert Penn Warren, Flannery O'Connor, Truman Capote etc. Persistent lyrical embroidery and coloring, in extended passages, of the narrative theme; realistic colloquialism, expressing lively dialogues; dream-like use of stream of consciousness; phantasmagoric and deranged, or incoherent style

2 A Rose for Emily William Faulkner
The title The title character is a tragic figure. Manipulated by her father and unable to function in the modern world, she lives as a recluse most of the time and eventually goes insane. In an attempt to hold on to a man who becomes her companion but later decides to abandon her, she murders him and keeps his corpse in an upper room of her house. In a lecture at Nagano, Japan, author William Faulkner said of Emily: “Here was a woman who has had a tragedy, an irrevocable tragedy and nothing could be done about it, and I pitied her and this was a salute ... to a woman you would hand a rose.”

3 A Rose for Emily William Faulkner
Type of work “A Rose for Emily” is a short story of Gothic horror and tragedy. Gothic horror is a genre of fiction presenting dark, mysterious, terrifying events that take place in a gloomy or ghostly setting. The genre derives its name from the Gothic architectural style in Europe between the twelfth and sixteenth centuries. When a Gothic horror story takes place in the American South and centers in part on Southern cultural traditions and character types, as well as on a realistic rather than romantic account of events, scholars often characterize the story as Southern Gothic.

4 A Rose for Emily William Faulkner
Setting William Faulkner set a “A Rose for Emily” in the fictional Mississippi town of Jefferson, modeled after the real Mississippi town of Oxford, where the author spent most of his life. Events in the story take place in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries.

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Major Characters Emily Grierson: Emily is the classic outsider, controlling and limiting the town’s access to her true identity by remaining hidden. The house that shields Emily from the world suggests the mind of the woman who inhabits it: shuttered, dusty, and dark. The object of the town’s intense scrutiny, Emily is a muted and mysterious figure. The narrator portrays Emily as a monument, but at the same time she is pitied and often irritating, demanding to live life on her own terms. 

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Major Characters Homer Barron: Homer, much like Emily, is an outsider, a stranger in town who becomes the subject of gossip. Unlike Emily, however, Homer swoops into town brimming with charm, and he initially becomes the center of attention and the object of affection. As the foreman of a company that has arrived in town to pave the sidewalks, Homer is an emblem of the North and the changes that grip the once insular and genteel world of the South. 

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Themes Psychological Bondage Living in the past Death of the Old South Tradition versus change The power of death

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Motifs - Watching Emily is the subject of the intense, controlling gaze of the narrator and residents of Jefferson. The act of watching is powerful because it replaces an actual human presence with a made-up narrative that changes depending on who is doing the watching. No one knows the Emily that exists beyond what they can see, and her true self is visible to them only after she dies and her secrets are revealed.

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Motifs - Dust The dust throughout Emily’s house is a fitting accompaniment to the faded lives within.  The layers of dust also suggest the cloud of obscurity that hides Emily’s true nature and the secrets her house contains.  In the final scene, the dust is an oppressive presence that seems to emanate from Homer’s dead body.

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Symbols The strand of hair: The strand of hair is a reminder of love lost and the often perverse things people do in their pursuit of happiness. Emily’s House: Emily’s house, like Emily herself, is a monument, the only remaining emblem of a dying world of Southern aristocracy. Emily’s house also represents alienation, mental illness, and death. It is a shrine to the living past.

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Symbols Barron: Homer Barron, a Northerner who traveled to Jefferson to install new sidewalks, dated Emily for about a year and then severed his relationship with her. He symbolizes post-Civil War carpetbaggers and, in a larger sense, any opportunists. Episcopal Religion: With its elaborate rituals, the Griersons' Episcopalianism appears to represent the ornate trappings and elegant lifestyle of Old South aristocrats.

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Symbols Mailbox, Metal House Number: These symbolize modernity and change. Emily refuses to allow postal officials to install the house numbers and the mailbox. Sidewalks: The new sidewalks that Homer Barron and his crew construct appear to symbolize the post-Civil War Reconstruction era.

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Symbols Stationery: The note Emily sent the mayor was written on “paper of an archaic shape, in a thin, flowing calligraphy in faded ink.” The archaic shape of the stationery and the faded ink seem to represent the outmoded traditions of the Old South. Tarnished Metals: The tarnished gold head of Emily's cane and the tarnished silver toilet set in the room with Barron's corpse symbolize aging, deterioration, and death.

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Faulkner and the Southern Gothic Southern Gothic is a literary tradition that came into its own in the early twentieth century. It is rooted in the Gothic style, which had been popular in European literature for many centuries. Gothic writers concocted wild, frightening scenarios in which mysterious secrets, supernatural occurrences, and characters’ extreme duress conspired to create a breathless reading experience.

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Faulkner and the Southern Gothic Although they borrow the essential ingredients of the Gothic, writers of Southern Gothic fiction were not interested in integrating elements of the sensational solely for the sake of creating suspense or titillation. Writers such as Flannery O’Connor, Tennessee Williams, and Truman Capote were drawn to the elements of Gothicism for what they revealed about human psychology and the dark, underlying motives that were pushed to the fringes of society.

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Faulkner and the Southern Gothic “A Rose for Emily” reveals the influence that Southern Gothic had on his writing: this particular story has a moody and forbidding atmosphere; a crumbling old mansion; and decay, putrefaction, and grotesquerie. Faulkner’s work uses the sensational elements to highlight an individual’s struggle against an oppressive society that is undergoing rapid change. Emily’s mental instability and necrophilia have made her an emblematic Southern Gothic heroine.

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Further readings The Sound and the Fury (1929) As I Lay Dying (1930) Absalom, Absalom! (1936) A Fable (1954) (Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1955) The Reivers (1962) (Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1963)

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