William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily"
“A Rose for Emily,” is the remarkable story of Emily Grierson, whose death and funeral drew the attention of the town. The bizarre outcome is further emphasized throughout by the symbolism of the decaying house, which parallels Miss Emily’s physical deterioration and demonstrates her ultimate mental disintegration. Emily’s life, like the house which decays around her, suffers from lack of genuine love and care.
The characteristics of Miss Emily’s house, like her physical appearance, are brought about by years of neglect. For example, the house is located in what was once a prominent neighborhood that has deteriorated. Originally white and decorated in “the heavily lightsome style” of an earlier time, the house has become “an eyesore among eyesores”(177). The description of her house represents a place side by side of the past and present and was an emblematic presentation of Emily herself. Through lack of attention the house has evolved from a beautiful representative of quality to an ugly holdover from another era. Similarly, Miss Emily became an eyesore; for example, she was first described as a “fallen monument”(177) to suggest her former grandeur and her later ugliness. She was a “monument,” an ideal of past values but fallen because she had shown herself susceptible to death and decay. According Fetterley, “the violence implicit in the desire to see the monument fall”(194). Like the house, she has lost her beauty. A women who once was beautiful, later became obese and bloated. Both the house and occupant have suffered the ravages of time and neglect.
The interior of the house also parallels Miss Emily’s increasing degeneration and the growing sense of sadness that accompanies such decay. Initially, all that can be seen of the inside of the house is a slim half where a staircase is mounted into still move shadow, with the house smelling of “dust and disuse”(178). The darkness and the smell of the...