In "A Rose for Miss Emily," analyse the character of Miss Emily when her father was alive, when the Board came and after Barron had left her.

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Clearly Miss Emily is one of literature's unforgettable characters, and in "A Rose for Emily" Faulkner presents her development through the eyes of the townspeople where she lives, leaving us to deduce much about who she really was.

Whilst her father was alive it is clear that Miss Emily was victim to his tyrannical power. Note the lasting impression of the townspeople of this part of her life:

We had long thought of them as a tableau, Miss Emily a slender figure in white in the background, her father a spraddled silhouette in the foreground, his back to her and clutching a horsewhip, the two of them framed by the back-flung front door.

The description of her father as "a spraddled silhouette," clutching a horsewhip with which to scare away any suitors clearly reveals the kind of father that he was and how he forced his daughter to be remote and isolated from the rest of the community.

The description of Miss Emily when the board arrives is worthy of attention:

They rose when she entered - a small, fat woman in black, with a thin gold chain descending to her waist and vanishing into her belt, leaning on an ebony cane with a tarnished gold head. Her skeleton was small and spare; perhaps that was why what would have been merely plumpness in another was obesity in her. She looked bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water, and of that pallid hue.

Note how the description of her confirms her authority, for the Board rose when she entered, but also emphasises the sense in which she has been stranded in some past time which she is still trapped in - she is compared to a corpse that has been in the sea for a long time.

After the "disappearance" of Barron, this is when Miss Emily begins to age:

When we next saw Miss Emily, she had grown fat and her hair was turning grey.

Note that now Barron, her true love, is dead, it is almost as if she has no need to live in the same sphere as the townspeople any more - she has her beloved next to her, after all.

Read the study guide:
A Rose for Emily

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