Insanity in a Rose for Emily
William Faulkner was an American writer from Oxford, Mississippi, who was praised for his novels and short stories, many whom take place in Yoknapatawpha County, fictitious setting based on where he spent most of his childhood, Lafayette County. Faulkner, regarded as one of the most vital writers of the Southern literature of the United States, was somewhat unheard of until being given the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1949. He too received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for two other of his works. In 1931, he published his first short story, A Rose for Emily, in a national magazine.
The central plot of the story is very much about Emily’s stubborn attitude towards change. Before the Civil War, her father, who was from a wealthy and well known family, made a generous contribution to the Southern town, and as a gesture of gratitude, the mayor at that time sanctioned them from paying taxes. Even after her father’s death, she believed that this privilege was still granted. Overall, it was difficult for her to let go of the past and make way for the future, which was very common in the southern people of this time. Her unyielding behavior is also evident when she refuses to accept the death of her father, whom she was very attached to. He was very strict with his daughter, thus becoming the only man in her life, up until Homer Barron, who was Emily’s lover for quite some time. The town use to make up stories of their relationship, not really certain of what was, in truth, happening between them. In fact, they use to make up their own assumptions of Emily, making her out to have a spotless image, which was later conflicted when they finally got a bona fide view of her life. Nevertheless, later into their relationship, Homer was seen last entering Emily’s house. Afterwards, Emily practically secluded herself from society by not leaving her house, which no one had entered for the last ten years, for the remainder of her life. Throughout the piece, Faulkner presents details that lead the reader to reflect on the main character’s mental health.
The first think that may lead the reader to infer Emily’s unruliness is the fact the she had an aunt that was, without a doubt, harebrained. “People in our town, remembering how old lady Wyatt, her great-aunt, had gone completely crazy at last…” (Faulkner 289) Some science has shown that mental disorders may be prewired into the brain; therefore, it can be genetic. This kinship increases the certainty that Emily’s actions were not just superficially absurd; there was something more profound regarding her behavior.
For instance, the day after her father dies, the women of the town visit Emily to offer sympathy, but she shows no sign of grief, as if nothing had happened. “The day after his death…Miss Emily met them at the door, dressed as usual and with no trace of grief on her face.” (Faulkner 289) She also prevented her father from being buried, telling everyone that...