Literary Essay Sample on the Themes in "A Rose for Emily"

Published: 2022-09-23
Literary Essay Sample on the Themes in "A Rose for Emily"
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  William Faulkner Modernist literature
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 980 words
9 min read

William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" is a story that revolves around the inevitability of change. Emily is at the center of a story that depicts her as being resistant to change. The setting of the story is in a Southern town called Jefferson, and which undergoes drastic developmental change. However, the same change is not observed on Emily's property which stands out from other modern houses (Faulkner et al. 173). As a result, the narrator describes the house as a monument.

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Emily's father Grierson is a very conservative man; he protects Emily from probable suitors because he believes that all of them are not good enough for his daughter.

The death of Emily's father becomes a big blow to her because she doesn't have any other source of income. As a result, town officials decide to exempt her from taxes. Ultimately, Emily dies and the whole community gets shocked at the kind of life Emily was leading (Faulkner 178). There are two main themes that are evident in the text: Resistance to change, and the power of death. This paper looks foreshadowing as a literary style employed by the author to expound on the themes present. Before doing so. However, it is important to first identify the main themes in the work.

Resistance to Change

Throughout the text, Faulkner presents the case of conflict between tradition and far-reaching transformations. Whereas the town is shown to have gone through a series of radical changes, the author describes Emily's family as being resistant to change. For example, Emily lived in a high-class street. However, the town has since industrialized and new buildings have been built. But Emily's house has not undergone any transformation (Faulkner et al. 175). It is so old and out fashioned that it can easily be distinguished from other ultra-modern properties in the neighborhood. The same is replicated in Emily's life which is mostly spent indoors instead of interacting with other people in the neighborhood.

The Inevitability of Death

Right from the beginning of the text, the author introduces the powerful nature of death and how it cannot be avoided in most cases. For example, Emily's father dies and leaves her without enough money to take care of herself. Despite denying for some time, Emily eventually accepts the death of her father who is buried by some of the village elders, some women from the neighborhood, and Emily's two cousins (Faulkner et al. 176). This refusal to accept death reveals Emily's attempt to overcome death. The same case is witnessed when Emily kills Homer (her potential lover) and still refuses to accept it. As such, she weirdly hides his body in the house for a long time that the townsmen discover it when it has already decomposed. Ultimately, Emily dies after an illness. All these examples point out to the power of death (Faulkner et al. 176). Despite Emily trying to fight death, it stamps its authority in the end by taking away important people in her life and, ultimately, she also falls victim to it. The next section now points out some instances in the text when the author uses foreshadowing as a literary device.

Foreshadowing is a stylistic device that is used to create an expectation which is yet to come. The author employs foreshadowing in several instances. The first example is when Emily goes to a drugs shop and buys arsenic without stating what she is going to use it for. Being a deadly poison, the pharmacist gets concerned (Faulkner et al. 175). However, perhaps for the purposes of making sales, the pharmacist indicates that the arsenic is meant for killing rats. Coincidentally, this event takes place at a time when Emily is warming up for Homer, despite sharp resistance from the community who feel that Emily is degrading her stature. As a result, they send her two cousins to ensure that Emily and Homer do not get marries. When Homer visits Emily one evening, he not seen again (Faulkner et al. 177). Emily hides her in her house since she did not want to lose him. To this end, the predicted dangers of arsenic were observed practically.

The other case of foreshadowing can be deduced from Emily's refusal to accept the death of her father. More and more people paid a visit to her home to condole with her, However, Emily's refuses to admit that her father is actually dead. This was a symbol of the close love that existed between the two (Faulkner et al. 177). This scene sets a stage for future occurrences of a similar nature. This is seen when Emily kills Homer for allegedly wanting to run away from the town in order to avoid marrying Emily. Again, Emily is reluctant to dispose of Homer's body. She locks it up locks it up in a room that remains closed for almost a decade - an indication of Emily's love towards Homer (Faulkner et al. 178). This reinforces the theme of resistance to change. Emily does not buy into the fact that bodies kept in the house but are buried. This reinforcing the themes of resistance to change as well as the power of death by narrating how Emily reacted to the two deaths, and how death triumphed nevertheless.

In summary, Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" uses foreshadowing to reinforce his main idea by making the reader predict future events in the narrative. The buying of arsenic was a premonition of imminent death, whether suicide or murder. The latter became the case when Emily killed Homer because of love. In addition, the theme of tradition vs. modern change is explained through the overshadowing of Emily's future reaction to the loss of life. Overall, the author foreshadowing to explain the fact that change and death are two inevitable incidences.

Work Cited

Faulkner, William, Josef Schwarz, and Zdenek Urbanek. A rose for Emily. Paderborn, De: Verlag F. Schoningh, 1958.

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