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Essay on Faulkner's A Rose for Emily

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William Faulkner’s, “A Rose for Emily”, is a captivating story about love and death. Faulkner captures the audience with numerous literary elements throughout the story. Symbolism is used to represent a strong connection between objects with a symbolic meaning. The Grierson house is used to symbolize Emily Grierson’s physical condition, her unwillingness to change, and her shift in social status.
The symbolic relationship between the house and Emily’s physical condition is vividly represented during the story. At first the Grierson house was built to impress: “It was a big, squarish frame house that once had been white…set on what had been the most select street” (787). The house progressively changes and is described as full of dust and has an indescribable odor: “It smelled of disuse- a close, dank smell… when the negro opened the blinds of one window, a faint dust rose (788). The house description is a perfect representation of how Emily ages during the story. As years went by, her figure transformed into even more bountiful proportions and her youthful strands of hair began to gray: “She had grown fat and her hair was gray…it grew grayer and grayer until it attained an even pepper and salt iron gray” (794). Both the Grierson house and Miss Emily lost their splendor.
The Grierson house is also used to show Miss Emily’s unwillingness to change. Her house was decorated with seventies décor: “… with cupolas and spires and scrolled in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies” (787). Emily held on tightly to the past. She always wanted to be viewed as superior to the rest of the town, just like her house. The house is described as “lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps (Faul...


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...mily had been a tradition, a duty, a care; a sort of obligation upon the town…” (787). The picture perfect image of rich and royalty was completely gone.
Emily Grierson and her house are like a mystery to the town. Faulkner symbolically uses vivid imagery of the Grierson house to compare Emily’s feelings and actions. The description of the deteriorated house relates back to Emily’s physical appearance. Her unwillingness to change is shown through her outdated exterior of her home. Also, Emily and her house were once viewed as superior, but her reputation and the house’s appearance diminished. This diminishment represented the transition from one social status to the next. Long live Miss Emily Grierson.



Works Cited


Faulker, William. “A Rose for Emily.” The Norton Field Guide to Writing with Readings. 2nd ed.
New York: Norton, 2010. 787-796. Print.



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