“A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner: Review

A Rose for Emily is a very good short story written by William Faulkner, this short story uses flash back techniques to draw the immediate attention of the readers. It starts with the funeral of Emily, the antagonist of the story. There is no protagonist in the story as the story is largely based upon the theme of emotional suffering. This paper will thro light upon main personality traits of Emily and this story will be compared and contrasted with “The Lottery”.

“Faulkner’s most famous, most popular, and most anthologized short story, “A Rose for Emily” evokes the terms Southern gothic and grotesque, two types of literature in which the general tone is one of gloom, terror, and understated violence.” (A Rose for Emily, 18 March 2009).

Traits displayed by Emily

The story starts with the most arresting event, the funeral of Emily. “When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to the funeral: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one save an old manservant–a combined gardener and cook–had seen in at least ten years.” (A Rose for Emily, 18 March 2009).

The character of Emily can be interpreted in more ways than one. Different people will have different stands when it comes to the character interpretation of Emily. According to me she was a victim of the society.

“This tale covers several decades in the life of the protagonist, Emily Grierson.” (A Rose for Emily).

She gets no emotional support whatsoever from the society. She was a spinster and she was restricted from marrying anyone for a large part of her life because of her father. The introduction of Homer makes the story very intriguing. The readers get are convinced by the author that all the suffering of Emily will come to an end when she marries Homer but that does not happen as the story reaches its climax. The traits portrayed by Emily are very typical traits associated with women. She isolated herself from the society; she never spoke to anyone except her Negro servant of which very little is known in the story. She even killed Homer who she loved so much, she was heart broken to know that Homer was interested in men rather than women and he was her last hope to keep her sanity.

The story portrays a very somber theme and William Faulkner has been very successful in connecting the theme with the most important character of the story who without a doubt is Emily. The society could have helped her but the people kept speculating about her future rather helping out with the trauma that she was undergoing.

She was frustrated and in complete despair when she lost her father, her father should have allowed her to look for suitable men to take care of her when he passes away but he was too selfish to do that and inevitably Emily suffered the most because of her father’s selfishness. Many would argue that the assassination of Homer can never be justified but an emotionally broken person is capable of doing almost anything let alone killing the dear ones. Had she married Homer, then it would have been a different story altogether but that did not happen and this is exactly why the story is all about grief and somber.

Emily goes completely insane; there are many examples to prove the same, a classic example of the same is when the tmembers of the tax authority come to her house to collect the dues, she tells them to ask Colonel Sartoris for the advance taxes that she had already paid but she knew very about the death of Colonel which had taken place long back in the story. This goes to show that she was mentally affected by the way people who came in her life behaved with her, the society should have helped her but that was not quite the case and ultimately she died having no relatives and no near and dear ones. The theme of the story largely revolves around the character of Emily and the story only goes to show that emotional satisfaction is a must to avoid insanity and how a person derives the same, depends largely on that individual.

Comparison with the lottery

Insanity present in both the stories

Emily goes insane in the story because of lack of emotional support; the factor of insanity is also present in “the lottery”. The tradition of throwing stones at the people goes to show the insanity of the people in the story. When Tessie wins the lottery, Tessie pays for the same when the whole village kills Tessie by throwing stones at her. This goes to show that both the stories have a factor of insanity in them

Different levels of insanity

In A rose for Emily the insanity of Emily is at another level, on the contrary the lottery has different levels of insanity altogether. There is mild insanity in a rose for Emily and the lottery the level of insanity is at a much higher level.

Dominating people in the story

There are no dominating figures in a rose for Emily on the contrary the lottery has several dominating men for instance Mr. Graves and Mr. Martins.

Outdated Traditions

There are several outdated traditions followed in the lottery. The classic example of the same is stoning the people to death.

Scapegoats in both the stories

Emily is a scapegoat in a rose for Emily and so is Tessie in the lottery. This goes to show that the people always look for scapegoats to vent out their frustration and anger.

Barbaric practices in both the stories

A rose for Emily portrays barbaric practices, Emily killing Homer is a classic example to prove the same. Similarly stoning people to death portrays another barbaric practice in the lottery.

The paper compared and contrasted a rose for Emily and the lottery, a comprehensive analysis of the similarities and the differences are provided in this paper.


A Rose for Emily. In Mead.

A Rose for Emily. In Cliff Notes.

A Rose for Emily. In Literature Annotations.

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