In his short story “A Rose For Emily,” readers are introduced to a central figure Miss Emily Grierson, a pivotal bizarre character that is withdrawn from society and trapped in a world of delusions. The setting in William Faulkner’s story is highly significant to the themes, characters, and events of the short story. In “A Rose for Emily” Faulkner uses setting to show the encroaching forces of modernism against Miss Emily’s refusal to change leading to decay of her social status that no longer exists. Faulkner in the short story has emphasized the greatness of the south. In his short story, Faulkner has used a plural narrator which gives a general perspective of the townspeople regarding Miss Emily. The details of Miss Emily were revealed with the death of her father Mr. Grierson. Now she was the only last remaining Grierson in the town of Jefferson and appeared clinging to the past or the traditions of the old days in the face of modernity. In Miss Emily life, her father seemed to play the domineering parent role. They lived in the town of Jefferson. When Mr. Grierson died, Miss Emily refused to acknowledge his death, after a period of four days she finally came out of her illusion and “broke down” (4); it is understandable that situations like this arise due to the realization of loneliness. This loneliness led to the ruin of her life. Initially the story moves from a huge funeral attended by everybody in town, to the story of taxes about Miss Emily. Faulkner writes, “When the next generation, with its more modern ideas, became mayors and aldermen, this arrangement created some little dissatisfaction” (788). Miss Emily believes that she owes no taxes to the city, due to the favors bestowed upon the town by her father; therefore, she had no taxes. She urged them to see Colonel Sortoris, but there was a problem that Colonel Sortoris died ten years ago. Colonel Sortoris had passed away and the new city board wanted to tax her as with the changing times of the south, but Miss Emily still clung to her old believes and refused them. There are many themes in “A Rose For Emily,” but the most prevalent is the theme of decay in the entire story. So taxes happen to be a meager issue compared to what comes next. Faulkner writes, “Just as if a man – any man – could keep a kitchen properly, the ladies said; so they were not surprised when the smell developed” (789). So when her father died she denied to believe his death for three days and also refused his burial. She gets a boyfriend named Homer Barron in the summer after her father died, but her unusual nature makes her believe that he might abandon her; hence, she buys some poison and suddenly Home Barron disappears, but there was a bad smell in her house. The townspeople still did not suspect her. When Homer Barron disappeared; they thought he abandoned her. They sprinkled lime to cure the bad smell, but never bothered to find out the real truth. Overall the townspeople considered Miss Emily an epitome of the south’s era of greatness and kept refusing the realities. William Faulkner’s criticism is clear in “A Rose for Emily” for post Civil-War Southern society. In the short story, the townspeople were blatant and stereotypical. They still believed in social classes and racism. Faulkner writes, “But there were still others, older people, who said that even grief could not cause a real lady to forget noblesse oblige-without calling it noblesse oblige.” Her father domineering nature never let Miss Emily had marriage and enjoy the life of a married couple. In Faulkner’s opinion, her father held his social status so high so that he never found, virtually, anyone to deem perfect for her daughter. The townspeople also criticized relationships with those whom they saw below their status quo. In conclusion, Miss Emily Grierson is a victim of her own pride. Her mania is a manifestation of her pride, her independence, and her iron will. She did not crumble under pressures exerted upon her; she did not give in. She insisted on choosing a lover in spite of the criticism of the town. She refused to be jilted. She was not to be scorned or pitied. She led an idle and useless life. She was driven to criminal acts in desperate attempts to stimulate something of love’s fulfillment. These acts were neither life giving nor redeeming; on the contrary, she was led into a life of frustration, perversion, isolation, and decay.
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