In "A Rose for Emily", what factors and people shape Emily's personality?Especially her father

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Clearly, the influence of environment on one's personality is evident in Emily. In "A Rose for Emily," she was of the privileged in her town:  "When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to the funeral...for a fallen monument..."  While alive Miss Emily was a "hereditary obligation upon the town."  This phrase denotes the traditional Southern attitude demonstrated often in other works; the social/political influence of her father was so powerful that no one charged Emily taxes.  She, of course, was unaware of the working of social politics. 

Because of her being a  lady of the Old South, Miss Emily was isolated from the town long before she became a recluse although this aloneness brought about her decay and perversity, just as the Old South itself decayed.  For, since she had been  privileged and her father had turned away suitors, Emily had few men from whom to select.  So, when a man from the North arrived, he did not care about her status.  Her acceptance of this man in desperation, however, made her "sick."  She cut her hair, a symbolic gesture of being somewhat humiliated, having "forgotten noblesse oblige."  Townspeople called her "disgraced."  After Homer "leaves," the people assume "this if that quality of her father which thrawted her woman's life...had been too furious to die.' Her environment greatly shaped Miss Emily.


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