A Rose for Emily literary analysis

Subject: Literature
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 5
Word count: 1319
Topics: A Rose for Emily, Book, Symbolism


Remarkably, this story starts with the elaborate funeral of the main character, Miss Emily Grierson. For close to a decade, nobody has been to her abode except for her servant, Tobe. Even though her house was one of the best when it was built by her deceased father, it has been neglected leaving it to fall into a state of disrepair. Prior to 1894, the town administration had cultivated a special relationship with her, opting to exempt her from tax obligations. Nonetheless, the newer town administration was evidently appalled by this sort of arrangement and unanimously opted to pay her a visit in order to get her to meet these tax obligations. Despite this remarkable effort, Emily blatantly refused to honor this request. Further, she refused to admit that the old arrangement was not in force stuck by her guns. Previously, there were concerns raised about foul smell emanating from Emily’s house. As the stench grew stronger, so did the complaints. Astonishingly, the authorities elected to confront the problem by sprinkling lime instead of facing up Emily in regard to the issue. Despite this, the stench was dealt with. After Emily dies, Tobe for the first time in years allows town folks to access the house who in turn bury Emily as he disappears. After her burial, the town folk break into her upstairs bedroom only to find the decomposing body of Homer Barron.

Articulated themes

Markedly, one of the obvious themes articulated in “A Rose for Emily” is the significant degrees of isolationism. Notably, this isolation is both expressed emotionally and physically. Uniquely, the author goes to great lengths in depicting the process to which one can get detached from several aspects of life such as ; tradition, family, community, history, legal  aspects including previous actions and decisions. Indeed the story fervently does not support isolationism that is depicted herein (Nebeker 9).

According to Gavin Stevens’s nostalgic quotation, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past” paints a picture of the American South that is unsure of how to confront its past. It is often labeled as the most controversial periods of American history spanning from the conclusion of Civil War and the period just before the promulgation of Civil Rights. As indicated in the story, one of the objectives of Emily dating Homer Barron is the attempt to distance herself from the control of her father and the traditions of the American South (Nebeker 4).

Another theme we can derive from this story is empathy and amnesty. Initially, the author depicts such a spiteful and insensitive scenario plagued with a series of tragedies that span across generations. Nonetheless, when the magnitude of these cataclysms becomes apparent, it elicits a sense of consideration and compassion. According to the story, Emily is portrayed as an insane individual who is a deliberate attempt by the author to elicit feelings of empathy and exculpation (Nebeker 10).


The main character in this story Miss Emily Grierson is described as a southern girl who is keen to break free from a society determined to maintain the status quo on her societal role. Initially, she tries to embrace this role before she attempts to distance herself. Before even approaching the age of forty she opts to die in solitude. Again, we are reliably informed that she is a murderer which aggravates her reclusive and solitude status. Correspondingly, the author depicts Emily as the only child by not mentioning any of her siblings. Similarly, only her father is mentioned which shows that Emily could have been a father’s daughter. Equally, the author tries to bring out Emily’s artistic prowess by citing the crayon painting of her father of which she is responsible for (Nebeker 11-12).

Likewise, the author mentions Tobe, who is an old manservant whose life is shrouded in mystery that outdoes that of Emily. Importantly, he is believed to bear all the answers relating to Emily’s life. Although the author does not elaborate the kind of relationship Tobe has with Emily, he spends his lifetime taking care of Emily (Nebeker 9 and 13).

The only reason Emily is labeled a murderer is that he ends the life of Homer Barron. Barron is portrayed as an unsympathetic but charismatic individual who hails from the North. Markedly, the author looks down upon him by describing him as a rough-talking person. At the outset, he may have been willing to marry Emily, but he was deterred by her cousins and the town folks (Nebeker 5).

Stylistic devices used

In this story, the author significantly deploys imagery to articulate his point. To begin with, he delves into Emily’s house which is critical in explaining Miss Emily’s solitude life (Nebeker 12). According to the author, Emily’s house must have been built by her father during the post-civil war era. Further, the author describes her abode as unsightly by use of the words “eyesore among eyesores.” Speculatively, the house could have been built by proceeds accrued from slave labor her father owned. Through the vivid description of the house, the readers are likely to conclude that the house was deliberately left to fall into a state of disrepair. Moreover, it looked creepy and scary enough to elicit fear from younger children who ran past it in dread. Crucially, there was a good reason to be dreadful of this house because it is where Homer Barron met his untimely end in the hands of Emily. Consequently, she was a captive in this house as she could not leave it especially with Barron’s corpse decomposing in an upstairs room. Thereupon, this house became a symbol of Emily’s solitude as she could not share it with anybody.

Correspondingly, the author also tries to relate to time both in the past and present and how it influences the future. Following the visit by the members of the Board of Aldermen to Emily’s house to put her taxes in order, they are confronted with a sound of a ticking pocket watch hidden in her clothing. Indeed, this articulates Emily’s life as both mysterious and despondent (Nebeker 4).


Markedly, during the reading of this story, it is possible to understand the emotions of the author through the use of some adjectives. To begin with, the author uses an ironic tone to narrate this story. Emily’s life is riddled with a series of tragedies in which the author claims that it is worthy of an award. Nonetheless, no award is given to Emily as life continues to be terrible to her (Faulkner 1-6).

Nevertheless, the author seems to acknowledge these tragedies that are continuously plaguing Emily, and therefore he assumes a confessional tone. This position is assumed by the narrator who feels that since he is one of the town folks he could have inevitably contributed to Emily’s miserable life.

Conversely, confessions are often effective if it is about your own infractions. However, in this scenario, the narrator’s confessions can at best be described as being gossipy because he majorly speaks about crimes of other town folks and Emily. Fundamentally, the town folks unanimously contemplate that Emily will eventually commit suicide to which he further ironically states that it would be the best thing (Faulkner 4).

Identically, the narrator’s tone is also hopeful. Firstly, the narrator tries to explain that Emily should be given a rose clearly expressing empathy to Emily in spite of the fact that she is a murderer and riddled with misfortunes one after another. Furthermore, the narrator exhibits a sense of hopefulness through her death that tragedies such as those that befell Emily will not reoccur (Nebeker 9).

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  1. Faulkner, William. A Rose for Emily. Logan, IA, Perfection Learning, 2009.
  2. Nebeker, Helen. “Emily’s Rose of Love: Thematic Implications of Point of View in Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily.” The Bulletin of the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association, Vol. 24, No. 1, 1970, pp. 3-13
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