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Comparative Analysis of 'The Little Foxes' and 'A Rose for Emily'. Lillian Hellman wrote her famous play 'The Little Foxes' in 1939. This play was a huge hit and later on was acknowledged as Hellman's finest work. 'The Little Foxes' is regarded as a derisive critique on the greed and small-mindedness of a typical southern family (Gray). The interesting feature of the play was the fact that many of the characters were based on members of Hellman's own family. 'A Rose for Emily' is written by the prominent American novelist and author William Faulkner. In 'A Rose for Emily' Faulkner describes the varying fortunes of Emily Grierson, the only child of an authoritarian man (Towner). In the proceeding paragraphs a detailed comparative analysis of the two literary works, 'The Little Foxes' and 'A Rose for Emily' will be done by providing description on how the two written works differ from each other in terms of Form of the written word while being similar to each other for containing the themes of Symbolism, Ambiguity and death.
Literary form is broadly referred to as the manner and organization in which the literary work is arranged. Lillian Hellman's depiction of the struggle of a Southern family to retain its power and wealth comes in the form of play written for the mainstream American theater audiences (Oakes). On the contrary, William Faulkner's depiction of Emily Grierson's life is organized in the form of a moving short story (Kress). The story 'A Rose for Emily' is considered as Faulkner's most widely read and published short stories.
In doing the analysis of Hellman's 'The Little Foxes' and Faulkner's short story 'A Rose for Emily' some key factors are considered that provide a better insight of how the literary works were developed and what was the hidden meaning behind the written word, if there is any. The key factors that provide a basis for content analysis are Symbolism, Ambiguity and the topic of death.
Symbolism: Symbolism relates to undertaking of a journey. At a deeper level symbolism is artificial, yet it is something we cannot live without. Words as they are written on paper are not important but what ideas, images and shapes the words invoke in the minds of people are more important. The use of word fox in the title of Hellman's play, 'The Little Foxes' points toward the cunning, shrewd and greedy nature of the fox; in reality this was an attack on the insatiable hunger the members of Hubbard family had for money (Bordman and Hischak). In Faulkner's short story 'A Rose for Emily' the disappearance and death of Homer Barron followed by the revelation that Emily Grierson continued to sleep with his dead body long after she had murdered him, in reality was a scathing attack on the society that lives with a dead but unburied past (Moreland).
Ambiguity: Another very important theme that is observed in both the written works is the ambiguous nature of what appears on paper and what is actually intended. Hellman has written 'The Little Foxes' staying true to the saying that the very nature of literature is Polyvalent, i.e. it can mean different things at different times. The reflections of the maid, Addie in Lillian Hellman's 'The Little Foxes' perhaps represent the strongest degree of ambiguity expressed in the play. Addie's words, "Well, there are people who eat the earth and eat all the people on it" in reality point towards the greedy mindset of the people influenced by the industrialization of the South (Watson). The extensive use of latent symbolism in William Faulkner's celebrated short story 'A Rose for Emily' has resulted in the story becoming a critic's favorite as it provides the critics with an opportunity to exercise their imagination and intelligence (Inge). Critics have widely regarded Emily Grierson as a symbolic reference to the South while her lover Homer Barron was described as a symbol for North. The red colored bedroom was a symbolic reference to love while Emily's symbolic action of cutting her hair short was in fact a celebration of her newly attained freedom following her father's death.
Death: Another common feature in Hellman's 'The Little Foxes' and Faulkner's renowned short story 'A Rose for Emily' was the topic of death. In 'The Little Foxes' Hellman aptly portrays the sick mentality of one of the central characters Regina when she was shown standing immobile as her husband Horace Gibbons dies while pleading her to get him the medicine. The main motive behind Regina's indifferent attitude was her lust for money, according to her understanding Horace's death would make her rich and solve all of her problems. Death is also a very important theme running continuously in William Faulkner's short story; the short story opens up with the narrator describing the death of Emily Grierson, the central protagonist of the story which is followed by a discussion on the death of her father and the impact it produced on her personality. The story also discusses Homer Barron's death, the love interest of Emily Grierson in the story.
A comparative investigation into Hellman's play 'The Little Foxes' and Faulkner's short story 'A Rose for Emily' reveals that although both the works are different when it comes to their form yet both the writers seem to taking a common ground when it comes to defining their work in the form of Symbolism, Ambiguity and death. The use of multi-meaning words and phrases can also be found abundantly in both these forms of literature.