A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner - Critical Essay

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Literature review
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In the story A Rose for Emily, Faulkner uses many of the conventions of gothic literature and creates an atmosphere that is both mysterious and foreboding. The foreboding atmosphere goes through the whole text. From the first till the last paragraph the reader is waiting for happening something bad.

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A Rose for Emily: Story Analysis

The story begins with a brief description of the funeral of Emily Grierson and ends with the description of this event. The round story is overshadowed by a dark atmosphere.

Miss Emily’s House in a Rose for Emily

The House of Miss Emily is described as a light one but with elements of gothic architecture, with spires and cupolas, scrolled balconies. As Faulkner said in his story: It was a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies, set on what had once been our most select street.

Inside the house, there is an atmosphere of decay. As Faulkner said in his story: Everything is covered by dust: It smelled of dust and disuse--a close, dank smell. The Negro led them into the parlor. It was furnished in heavy, leather-covered furniture. When the Negro opened the blinds of one window, they could see that the leather was cracked; and when they sat down, a faint dust rose sluggishly about their thighs, spinning with slow motes in the single sun-ray. All in the house is dark and old, as we can see from the previous quotation.

Character Analysis of Miss Emily in a Rose for Emily

Even the description of Miss Emily is overshadowed by the dark atmosphere. At first, she was a poor, sick lonely young woman, As Faulkner said in his story: She was over thirty then, still a slight woman, though thinner than usual, with cold, haughty black eyes in faces the flesh of which was strained across the temples and about the eyesockets as you imagine a lighthouse-keeper's face ought to look. Then she got married. Years came and she became a sick old woman. As Faulkner said in his story: a small, fat woman in black, with a thin gold chain descending to her waist and vanishing into her belt, leaning on an ebony cane with a tarnished gold head. Her skeleton was small and spare; perhaps that was why what would have been merely plumpness in another was obesity in her. She looked bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water, and of that pallid hue. Her eyes, lost in the fatty ridges of her face, looked like two small pieces of coal pressed into a lump of dough as they moved from one face to another while the visitors stated their errand.

During the whole story, the writer underlines that the woman is poor and sick. The neighbors called her Poor Emily. And when she got married and went to buy rat poison (the arsenic) and disappeared, neighbors thought that she commit suicide. But when they saw her in the street again, they change their mind.

To make the atmosphere dark and foreboding, the author uses vocabulary to describe fate and gloom, like impervious, inescapable, macabre, etc.

Emily Grierson’s Funeral

Even at the end, at the description of the funeral of Emily Grierson, the reader is still waiting for happening something frightened till the last paragraph, till the description of Emily's husband's death. As Faulkner said in his story: For a long while we just stood there, looking down at the profound and fleshless grin. The body had apparently once lain in the attitude of an embrace, but now the long sleep that outlasts love, that conquers even the grimace of love, Then we noticed that in the second pillow was the indentation of ahead. One of us lifted something from it and leaning forward, that faint and invisible dust dry and acrid in the nostrils, we saw a long strand of iron-gray hair.


To make the conclusion, I must say that the entire story seems to be dark like a shortened gothic novel. We can't find happy moments except for the marriage of the main character. The lightest moment in this story is her love.

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