The Destruction Of Emily In William Faulkner's A Rose For Emily

1639 words - 7 pages

"Respectful affection for a fallen monument" (Faulkner 145). Miss Emily was a lady portraying the pure essence of Southern refinement. This idol could not be understood or related to but simply uphold without question. Her way of life was not one of struggle but of status. She was lost in her own reality of the present, still as a rose frozen in time. This woman, the delicate flower of the community, was lost in her own perception and belief of the world. Emily was given compassion without request due to her label and status of being a lady that eventually contributed to her own destruction.

"Emily is exempted from the general indictment because she is a real lady-that is, eccentric, slightly crazy, obsolete, a ‘stubborn and coquettish decay,’ absurd but indulged; ‘dear, inescapable, impervious, tranquil, and perverse’; indeed, anything and everything but human" (Fetterley 195). In order to be a woman in the South, one must be of a certain character. Any form of decay cannot tarnish this role or character unless you wish to retreat from the consistent status presented to you. Emily was a true incarnation representing the scale that originates in classism. Her character, however, engulfed the women and led the innocence to death in life itself. This immortal figure was a constant shadow hanging over an area of confusion and tradition. A tradition, which allowed Emily to fall deeper into the abyss of retreat and unconsciousness until reality was seen as a complete dream, filled with foolishness.

In the community eye Emily’s life was one of normal progression, but no one really knows the truth behind closed doors. "Nobody sees Emily. And because nobody sees her, she can literally get away with murder" (Fetterley 195). How should murder be taken in the sense of Emily’s life? It is the description of the life she lived in this traditionally Southern community. "See Colonel Satoris. I have no taxes in Jefferson" (Faulkner 146). Emily played her role to perfection, which cast a lady and reinforced a history that nobody was really strong enough to give up. Her status reaffirmed the fragments of myth the townspeople held dear to. This traditional perspective taken by the community is what gave Emily the upper hand in any situation that confronted her in the so-called life she acted out. "According to the traditional view, ‘his word’ knew no death" (West 68). This stance which Emily toyed with, but firmly believed was constant giving her immunity even when the up and coming generation tried to put an end to her world view. "Will you accuse a lady to her face of smelling bad?" (Faulkner 147). Even though the ‘rising generation’ is muffled, they still continue to progress essentially being the one enemy to Emily, without her even acknowledging the fact of their existence.

"It is the Past pitted against the Present—the Past with its social decorum, the Present with everything set down in the books" (West 68). Emily has skewed off the time line...

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