Uploaded by Alexa henderson

A Rose for Emily-Final

Henderson 1
Alexa Henderson
Dr. Ashli Boutwell Wilkins
Comp and Modern English II ENG - 1102 – XTIE 19/T2
October 27, 2019
Character Analysis of Emily Grierson in “A Rose for Emily”
In the short story “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner, the readers dive into the
realm of Southern hospitality, delusions, and conspiracy. Miss Emily Grierson, the focus in the
story, “A Rose for Emily,” is a highbrow, loony woman who lived a life made up of fantasies.
Withdrawn from society, the town doesn’t quite realize the severity of her mental state. Due to
the suffocating class system, Emily never obtains any psychiatric treatment, however, she
parades signs symptomatic of mental illness. Is it possible, she got this unfortunate mental
condition passed down from her great-aunt, Old Lady Wyatt or was it more from her father’s
overbearing, albeit unconditional love?
Mr. Grierson is perceptibly '"old South." They way he treats his daughter, Emily, mirrors
his antiquated ways. Even after his death, Miss Emily demanded the townspeople respect of her
as the last Grierson remaining in town. “She carried her head high enough even when we
believed that she was fallen.” (p. 36) Her life was a perverse, nail biting detective story that the
townspeople could not help but be interested in.
“None of the young men were quite good enough for Miss Emily” her father’s
domineering voice rang in Emily’s head since childhood. She was almost 30, some would say a
Henderson 2
spinster, in her own right. Marriage was the most important thing for women at that time and she
was failing miserably until she met Homer Barron. Their impending marriage was seen as an
ignominy because he was not from the South, nor was he from money. He was a day laborer that
came to Mississippi from the North to work on the new sidewalks around town. Emily wanted so
desperately to marry and get out from under the despair her father has strapped on her for years.
Homer was seen as “not the marrying type” as he was possibly homosexual, or at least an endless
bachelor. Townsfolk could not comprehend the courtship between the two, they asserted that
“even grief could not cause a real lady to forget noblesse oblige.” (p. 36) The townspeople
thought Emily’s behavior was disgraceful, they called her cousins to rectify the situation but
Emily continued to exhibit this behavior. Miss Emily went to the jeweler shortly after, buying a
toilet set in silver, which proposed to the townspeople that she was sincere in marrying Homer
Barron. She also bought a nightshirt which solidified this assumption.
Emily Grierson believed that her father was still alive for three days after his death. She
was in denial or possibly her mental illness constructed a different reality for her to deal with his
untimely demise. After her father’s death, life was like it had permanently been, alone but ever in
pursuit to find happiness that her father seized from her for years. That may have been the
reasoning behind Emily keeping the bodies in her home after their deaths. She did not want to
succumb to the loneliness but instead succumbed to madness. No one questioned Emily about
the evaporation of Homer even though he had disappeared and she was known for purchasing
arsenic and refusing to tell the druggist exactly what the poison was for.
Because of who Emily’s father was, and what he did for the town, her inexplicable
behavior was tolerated by the townspeople. Miss Emily did not pay taxes per Colonel Sartoris,
Henderson 3
who told her, her father loaned money to the town. "Only a man of Colonel Sartoris' generation
and thought could have invented it, and only a woman could have believed it." (p. 36) As the
only remaining member of the upper-class Grierson family, Miss Emily refuses to leave the past
behind her even as the next generation begins to take over, pushing towards with new technology
and policies. She refused to pay any taxes regardless of how many notices she got or who came
to call on her. Miss Emily's home is explicitly termed as a “big, square framed house that had
once been white, but is now a decaying eyesore. The massive home is located on what was once
Jefferson's most influential street and is decorated with cupolas, spires, and scrolled balconies,
which are outdated and old-fashioned. An eyesore among eyesores.” (p. 32)
Miss Emily represented “a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation
upon the town.” (p. 37) The judge refused to confront her, a lady, about the smell stemming from
her home, to her face. Instead, they came at night like burglars, tiptoeing around, sprinkling lime
to remedy the odor of the deep-rooted house. The only person that had any contact with Miss
Emily or her dilapidated house was her servant, Tobe. Emily was pretentious and held herself
higher than most, however, Emily called Tobe by his first name despite the townspeople calling
him “Negro.” That shows a respect and admiration that she only held for two other men prior.
In closing, “A Rose for Emily” is a twisted page turner that only William Faulkner could
have ingeniously perfected. He captured the old South spirit with this shadowy tale. Emily was
stuck in her delusions and waited out death to come to her. After she died, the townspeople were
finally able to get into the one room no one has been in for over 40 years. Homer’s decaying
body lay on the bed with enough space opposite for Emily to lie next to him. There was an
Henderson 4
imprint on the pillow with a single iron grey hair eerily on it, proving that she was in love with
Homer, even in death, which she of course caused.