‘A Rose for Emily’ is one of the most read and highly praised works of the American writer William Faulkner. The storyline moves along with the narrator’s description of the life of the mentally illed protagonist Emily Grierson, who for the greater part of her life was not only sheltered and controlled by her father. The author uses a range of literary devices including flashback and setting that builds up to the climax of the story. He portrayed a dank world full of aberrant psychology and necrophilia that also exudes a hint of twisted romanticism.
First of all, some noticeable interesting writing techniques that make this story unconventional is that Faulkner employed multiple narrators and combine them into one single narrative voice that represents the whole town to tell the story. Furthermore, the plot is associative rather than go by chronological order as pieces of situation-triggered memories flow naturally throughout the story, so as at the end the whole puzzle is clearly presented to the readers.The story begins with a brief account of the huge funeral of Emily Grierson attended by the whole town. An obvious contrast was made at the opening which brought up the main theme of change and decay. Her house, once a luxurious and elegant mansion, has become a decaying eyesore. “It was a big, squarish frame house that had once been white….
. an eyesore among eyesores” (page ). More than just a contrast between present and now, while the appearance of her house mirrors Emily’s physical decay, the interior of the house allows us a glimpse into her mental and emotional state. Even though the house may still looks magnificent with its classic structure, inside of the house was described as smelling “of dust and disuse” and with furniture in which “the leather was cracked”shows that Emily Grierson, or her whole family is no more than a facade.
From the beginning of the story we can tell the prominent presence of death and decay in it, particularly through descriptions of Emily and her home.The house is also a key setting of the story which also reflects the themes. ‘Only Miss Emily’s house was left, lifting it’s stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons” (page). The author uses personification of her house here also symbolizing that the Emily’s house was a representation of herself. It stood apart from the rest, it remained unchanged despite modern industrialization just like Emily who refuses to acknowledge any changes, whether that change is the death of father, the arrival of tax bills, the betrayal of lover, or even the beginning of residential mail delivery. Her stubbornness in refusing to change acts as her motivation and also foreshadows her actions as tension increases.As the narrator recollects Emily’s extremely strange behavior in a series of flashbacks to push the plot along.
Faulkner uses foreshadowing to prepare the reader for the shocking reveal at the end of the story. For example, the mentioning of Emily buying the arsenic and Emily refusing to acknowledge anyone’s death, which later contributes to her emotions by killing Homer and keeping his body in an upstairs bedroom. When the townspeople discover the secret rooms, the describe that it is “furnished as if for a bridal: upon the valance curtains of faded rose color, upon the rose-shaded lights…” (page)Rose is a common symbol for love. Emily expresses her love for Homer by killing him and keeping as a monument in the bridal-like room so that she can keep him with her forever, which represented the twisted romanticism in Emily.
Emily’s mental illness is undoubtedly a consequence of her controlling father, she was craving for a ‘not-changing’ and everlasting companionship after the death of her father and struggle to adapt the changing society. Therefore she has to poisoned Homer to lock his company and even herself up in the room. The ending was not direct but through detailed description, it is clear enough to reveal the creepy and pathetic life of Emily.’A Rose for Emily’ shows that Faulkner was influenced by Southern Gothics because of the grotesque and mysterious elements and southern setting, when we discover that Emily has been hoarding dead bodies and as the reader discovers at the end, her necrophilic behavior, the strong influence of morbidity classifies “A Rose for Emily” as a