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Emily, of William Faulkner's gothic story, "A Rose for Emily," clearly represents the repressed and subjugated woman of the Victorian era. Having living under the domain of the patriarchal family, Emily has not been allowed the choice of a beau and she has been directed in her life by the arrangements that her father has made with Colonel Sartoris and others. But, later, Emily stereotypically "clings to that which had robbed her, as people will."
Even after her father's death, Emily lives in his shadow as symbolized by Faulkner in the scene in which she stands before his portrait, with his watch chain engulfing her entire figure:
a small, fat woman in black, with a thin gold chain descending to her waist and vanishing into her belt.
After her father's death, Emily goes out rarely, maintaining the same lifestyle upon which her father has insisted. When she retains the old Negro servant, some of the ladies remark,
Just as if a man--any man--could keep a kitchen properly,...so they were not surprise when the smell developed.
This remark is stereotypical, a remark perpetuated by the women themselves, for it assumes that women are better housekeepers. And, when they report the smell, Judge Stevens says, "...will you accuse a lady to her face of smelling bad?" The stereotypical implication here is that there are certain subjects about which people do not speak to women.
When Emily begins to become interested in Homer Barron, the townspeople say,
Of course a Grierson would not think seriously of a Northerner, a day laborer.
Learning that this is exactly what Emily does, the kin of Emily are called, and the townspeople whisper, "Poor Emily" as though Emily has become the pathetic, irrational woman. Some of the ladies label her "a disgrace."
After Homer Barron goes, the narrators are glad that the two female cousins--"even more Grierson" arrive to care for dependent Emily, the delicate woman who cannot fend for herself. The front door remains closed and she again is repressed in her own home until she chooses her bizarre act of independence.
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