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A Tale Of Terror Essay

1356 words - 6 pages

Peculiar characters, eerie settings, and strange events leading up to a horrifying ending are all effective ways in which authors present their readers with a terrifying tale to remember. William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily,” a short story about the odd Emily Grierson, a once well-respected woman in a small southern town, takes readers into a whirlwind of a story leading up to a horrifying discovery about Miss Emily’s secretive demeanor. Through his characterization of Miss Emily, his descriptions of the setting, and his use of foreshadowing, Faulkner effectively develops “A Rose for Emily” into a horrific tale.
The first way that Faulkner organizes “A Rose for Emily” is in his characterization of Miss Emily, which sets the scene for a terrifying story. Most commonly found in horror stories are characters that behave in odd fashion, leaving readers to become suspicious. In much the same way, Miss Emily often has these tendencies. For example, after the townspeople agree to sprinkle lime across Miss Emily’s backyard when a repulsive, mysterious smell arises around her home, Miss Emily appears suddenly as the men are spreading the lime. “A window that had been dark was lighted and Miss Emily sat in it, the light behind her, and her upright torso motionless as that of an idol” (Faulkner, 222). Faulkner’s description of Miss Emily’s unexpected and eerie presence accurately depicts her character as bizarre and chilling, leaving readers to believe Miss Emily somehow knows she has company. Aside from using Miss Emily’s sudden appearance in her window, Faulkner also relies on Miss Emily’s alarming interactions with other characters as the story progresses to further characterize Miss Emily as almost insane. When Miss Emily enters the pharmacy and requests arsenic, the pharmacist is shocked after Miss Emily simply stares at him, “her head tilted back in order to look him eye for eye,” refusing to give an explanation for the poison’s purpose (Faulkner, 224). Miss Emily’s blatant refusal to state her reason for the arsenic portrays her character as mentally unstable and secretly twisted. Had she planned to use the poison to kill pests around her house, Miss Emily would have no problem explaining her reason for the arsenic. In “A Rose for Emily,” Faulkner flawlessly characterizes Miss Emily as horrifying and demented.
In addition to her characterization to build the foundation for a horror story, the descriptions of Miss Emily’s house further add to the development of “A Rose for Emily” as a terrifying tale. Miss Emily’s house is described as “a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies” (Faulkner, 220). However, years of wear on the home have damaged the exterior and faded the once bright, fresh paint. Most commonly, horror stories include once grand structures that have been destroyed by years of abandon or neglect as the primary setting...

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