Stylistic devices and themes can play the major role of a cornerstone upon which any literary work can be built on. This can help bring out the beauty that keeps the readers glued to the text and be the captivating component that puts the reader’s intellect on toes.
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As shown by William Faulkner in his interesting short story A Rose for Emily, Faulkner greatly builds so many stylistic devices among them symbolism, imagery and even allegory to communicate his message to his readers. On the other hand he builds greatly on the theme of death and its impact on the main character Miss Emily Grierson (Faulkner 3). Just but to mention on point of narration, it is evident that it is not all about Emily but the whole town and its inhabitants.
One of the stylistic devices employed by Faulkner in the story A Rose for Emily is the use of the third person plural point of view of course through hearsay. The narrators use only the first person plurals “our” and “we”. The identity of the narrators can therefore be thought to be the average town’s people narrating the story in unison; all the accounts of the story are given from not an individual but rather a group.
For instance at the beginning of the story, the first sentence in the first paragraph says, “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 (Faulkner 1)”.
This therefore signifies that Miss Emily was being watched by all the people and that most of her activities were being monitored by the town’s people.
Another stylistic device that is seen widely used in the story A Rose for Emily by Faulkner is symbolism among which is the position taken by Emily’s house in the story. There is more to it than meets the eye, because it is not just like any other four walled structure but all that goes on in there and the many evils that it shields from the people around the small town.
The town’s people see it as an eyesore because “…it has been dilapidated and that new buildings had come up leaving it lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps – an eyesore among eyesores” (Faulkner 12.)
This can be thought to signify how awkward it can be at times to close ones doors towards change and cling on to the old traditional activities ignoring the wind of change that sweeps across the world each passing day. It also symbolizes that a person’s outward character may be totally different from who he surely is in the inside. Her house could be seen from outside but the evils there in were best known to Emily until her death when they were opened to all and sundry.
The thematic concern brought out by Faulkner throughout the story is that of death, loss and isolation. There are the incidents of death starting with that of Emily’s father, Emily’s lover Homer and even Emily herself. When a person dies, it is thought that that person’s life comes to an end and ceases to exist physically, but emotionally the dead person remains in the lives of those living, therefore letting go.
On the contrary, Faulkner paints Miss Emily as one who emotionally and physically cannot be disentangled from her father and lover even at death (Faulkner 3), that is why she does not want to let off the bodies’ of the dead father and lover. Death therefore looms all through the story courtesy of the evilness of Emily.
One can therefore attribute Faulkner as a literary hero having applied the technicalities of literary devices in his work in the short story A Rose for Emily. The use of themes, and stylistic features used by Faulkner are of course useful in building the plot of the story all the way up to its climax. The point of narration as well as symbolism as a stylistic feature and the theme of death have helped in showing how beautiful and interesting a piece of fictional work can be when well structured and built (Meyers 48)
Faulkner, William. A Rose for Emily. London. Language Publication. 2009. Pp. 1 – 72.
Meyer, Michael. The Bedford Introduction to Literature. New York. St. Martins. 2010. 9th Edition. pp 48 – 520.