“A rose for Emily” is first put in print in the year 1931, and was authored by William Faulkner. An unnamed first-person narrator tells of the idiosyncratic happenings of our protagonist, Miss Emily Grierson. The narrator tells the story, of the fundamental character hoarding the body of her killed lover and lying with the decaying physique for years, a murder that occurred due to the effects of possessive love. Contrary to Faulkner’s recurring style of using multiple and one-of-a-kind individual narrators, in this setting, the author employs the use of one voice to speak for the complete town of Jefferson. Essentially, the narrator dictates that they “had long thought of them (Emily and her father) as a tableau; Miss Emily a slender figure in white in the background, her father a spraddled silhouette in the foreground, his back to her and clutching a horsewhip” (Faulkner 2). Emily’s tribulations are a result of the treatment that she was subjected to by her father. Her father reinforced the need for image above sensibility in Emily which later came to afflict her. At thirty Emily had not yet been married and thus, the loneliness and the bitterness she projected upon the death of her father, was a consequence of her father’s actions (Getty 233). He had chased many suitors away and was thus directly responsible for Emily’s haughtiness and callousness. Nonetheless, the detractors of Emily as a sympathetic character often predicate that each individual is allowed the freedom to determine who they become. Furthermore, it is also asserted that her father’s actions were intended to protect Emily and thus project the love that her father had for her. Still, despite the intentions of the action, overprotectiveness alienated Emily from the community and her peers which ultimately led to her tribulations. Overall, indoctrination and socialization influence the outcomes of the individual. Emily inspires sympathy since she was not allowed to determine her choices.
Additionally, Emily inspires sympathy given internal conflicts that she is forced to oversee. Firstly, despite her love for Homer, she ultimately kills him. It is probable that Miss Emily seeks love but does not known how to solicit it. Furthermore, she is shown to be unrelenting. Essentially, she clings on to that which hurts her as a result of her internal conflicts (Getty 231). In killing Homer, Emily hoped to prevent the embarrassment that would follow her if the community learnt that Homer had used her for his own selfish end. Homer had openly “remarked – he liked men, and it was known that he drank with younger men in the Elks’ Club (Faulkner 4). Her internal conflicts are also observed when she refuses to accept the death of her father. The narrator indicates that “with nothing left, she (Emily) would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will” (Faulkner 3) These evidences prove that Emily was silently suffering emotionally and psychology and thus warrants sympathy and not hatred. Some of the detractors of this assertion predicate that Emily was cold-hearted and that the premeditated nature of the murder are the machinations of a stable mind. Nonetheless, such an assertion overlooks the passion that Emily felt towards both her father and Homer. She loved them both, despite her loath for their actions. Consequently, she I frustrated by the death of both of them but does not regret her actions.
Alternatively, Emily inspires sympathy because of her admirable traits. To begin with, Emily is a resolute character and despite her significant drawbacks, she constantly bends people to her will. When the druggist enquires in the intended purpose of the rat poison that Miss Emily was purchasing, she “just stared at him, her head tilted back in order to look him eye for eye, until he looked away and went and got the arsenic and wrapped it up” (Faulkner 3). Similarly, Emily’s resoluteness is also observed when she pronounces that she “had no taxes in Jefferson” and sends Colonel Sartois from her premises (Faulkner 2). Emily is also portrayed to be confident. She realizes that she is alone upon the death of her father and thus commits to fends for herself. She speaks up for herself when she is accosted on the issue of tax and refuses to remit the taxes that she owes the city (Blythe 49). These evidences serve to project Emily’s admirable traits which endear her to the reader. Indeed, Emily had some bad traits but overall, she had more positive than negative traits. For instance, given the murder she committed, Emily is projected to be cold-hearted and unforgiving. However, such actions were only intended for self-preservation which constitutes every individual’s first priority. Emily is an admirable character since she was able to overcome all the challenges that beleaguered her upon the death of her father.
Conclusively, Emily is a sympathetic character in the story A Rose for Emily. Firstly, she inspires sympathy in the reader given the constant victimization she was forced to oversee. Her father constantly chases away men from Emily’s life and this action negatively affects her in the future. Similarly, she is resolute and confident as a character. Lastly, Emily is the subject of internal conflict which renders her indifferent to her circumstances. She warrants more pity than loath from the readers.
Blythe, Hal. “Faulkner’s a Rose for Emily.” The Explicator 47.2 (1989): 49-50.
Faulkner, William. A Rose for Emily. Perfection Learning, 1990.
Getty, Laura. “Faulkner’s a Rose for Emily.” The Explicator 63.4 (2005): 230-234.