A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner is one of the most famous novels of the author. There is hardly a novel in the literature, which has so many opposite meanings as A Rose for Emily. In spite the fact that the novel has been written in 1930, the debates concerning the true message of the novel still exist. Practically every literary critic has its own vision and perception of the novel. Among the great variety of the different opinions it is possible to distinguish several major issues for the novels understanding.
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There are those who apt to think that the main motive of the novel is the theme of the time. Others assert that the novel is overfilled with symbols, and in order to understand the true meaning of it the basic knowledge of American history is necessary. There are also the researches who consider this novel to be the typical example of the horror story without any additional meaning.
As for me this novel causes different feelings. On the one hand, it repels by its difficult theme. But at the same time it attracts by its way of presentation and by the literary mastery of the author, who has succeeded in creation the specific gothic atmosphere that catches the readers attention from the very beginning of the narration.
The story begins with the announcement of the death of the old maid Emily Grierson. Then the narrator describes all the Emily’s bonehead actions making a reader believe in her insanity. The thing that focuses a readers attention is the chronological irregularity of the narration. The novel is logically divided into five chapters describing the certain period of Emilys life. Such a stylistic device used by the author is not occasional.
The author describes the changes of the generations in the town and the changes of the town authorities. But apart from the changes in Emilys appearance, the time has no impact on her. To be more exact, she denies the existence of the time. She lives with her father in their inner world separated from the existing reality. After her fathers death, Emily behaves as nothing has happened. Only in several days after the death, her father was buried.
All the modern innovations, all the changes are denied by Emily. She does not accept the new local authorities. All the changes of her abandoned house are inadmissible for her. Even the emergency of the mail delivery system is denied by Emily. She refused it. In all the situations, opposing herself to the surrounding environment, she wins the struggle against the society. Citizens of the town feel shy facing with the old-fashioned aristocratic lady. She denies them, as well as she denies the time. The only thing that is impossible for overcoming is the death. In her attempts to stop the time, Emily kills her fiancée in order to keep him forever in her house.
The author uses the different stylistic means and devices to underline the main theme of the novel. First of all, it is the specific form of the narration. There is no the concrete narrator in the novel. By using the generalized we, which can be applied to any inhabitant of the town, the author distinguishes between Emily and the surrounding society. The novel is also full of symbols. The Emilys abandoned house with its old-fashioned architecture contradicts the surrounding reality. The Emily’s silent servant fulfilling day by day his dull obligations without any changes in his daily routine. During the Emilys conversation with the local deputation, the author pays attention to such the minor detail as her invisible watch on the gold chain that measures the time of her life. The dust that covers everything in Emilys house is also symbolic.
Faulkner gives a contradictory image to Emily. It is rather difficult to answer who is she – the idol and the monument of the past, or the living corpse and the murderer. The circumstances of her tragedy are unknown. However, she is dead and the author shows the readers that it is impossible to defeat the time and the death just denying them.
The end of the novel impressed me greatly. Faulkner gives one more symbol, the detail, which is of a great importance for the understanding of the whole novel. “Then we noticed that in the second pillow was the indentation of a head. 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-grey hair” (Faulkner para. 63). Emily had been sleeping near the corpse of her fiancée during all her life, rejecting the time and the death and completely losing her mind.
A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner 2015. Web.