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What do critics say about Miss Emily Grierson in "A Rose for Emily"?

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moto303 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted April 24, 2012 at 1:26 PM via web

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What do critics say about Miss Emily Grierson in "A Rose for Emily"?

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 24, 2012 at 3:02 PM (Answer #1)

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"A Rose for Emily" is one of Faulkner's most analyzed and discussed stories, partly because of the author's daring treatment of controversial and taboo topics. These touch on themes such as homosexuality, necrophilia, racism, filial stagnation, and the end of the Old South, as a powerhouse.

Therefore, it would be no small task to quote all the different writings that have been published on this particular story. However, one important and most recent analysis places Emily Grierson in a position of a "scapegoat" of the Old South.

Yan (2004) argues that, being a symbol for what the South used to represent, Emily actually carries the huge weight of historical social change on her shoulders. For this reason, she is eyed, criticized, analyzed, judged, and observed under the scope of what she and her family used to be. This makes her actions more noticeable than anybody else's and, for that reason, getting rid of Homer shows how desperate she must have beenNOTto appear to the "NEW" South as yet another old, abandoned, or scorned woman. Hence, what Emily does, according to Yan, is a sacrifice to safeguard her dignity and that of the people of her generation, rather than just the commission of a crazy murder.

 In carrying out this grand mission, she pays a huge price, because as an idol worshiped by the community, she has to be strictly restricted by the norms of the Old South, and has to suppress her human wishes and desires and cover up her true self, give up the rights to participate in social life and have a family. She is in fact a sacrifice dedicated to the Old South.

Moreover, Enotes cites the work of Frank Littler which sees Emily as a form of "tragic heroine". He also cites the fact that the historical relationship between the North and the South creates a huge gap that only those who have lived through the Reconstruction can fill. Emily is the one leftover from a time where things were once great, opulent, favorable, and forgiving. Now, she has to survive through the great changes and still she is expected to come out the surface without showing any signs of defeat. For this reason, he is cited for stating that the story of Emily is also

a study in abnormal psychology, an allegory of the relations between North and South, a meditation on the nature of time, and a tragedy with Emily as a sort of tragic heroine.

Hence, these are just some of the many views of Emily as a woman. In all, you will see that she is basically viewed as a victim, rather than a cold-blooded murderer. After all, what other danger could Emily have caused society but to simply do what she is told?

You will definitely be able to find more information about William Faulkner's works this year, since July 6, 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of his death. The Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference is scheduled for this year as well, and scholars from all over will meet for the discussion of his works. The information is enclosed in the Faulkner society link below.

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