I need to write an essay on the similarties between "A Rose for Emily and "Araby." The main theme should be love and courtship.William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" and James Joyce's "Araby"

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Perhaps the strongest similarity between the ideas of courtship expressed in "A Rose for Emily" and in "Araby" is the unrealistic perception that the main characters harbor for the object of their loves.  For, the boy in Joyce's story idealizes Megan's sister, envisioning her in his mind as the fair maiden for whom he must embark on a knightly quest for the Holy Grail. While at the market, the boy narrates,

I imagined that I bore my chalice safely through a throng of foes.  Her name sprang to my lips at moments in strange prayers and praises which I myself did not understand.

While Emily's perception of Homer may not be as grandiose as the boy's, she certainly elevates her beloved in status as he escorts her in the "glittering buggy." Later, Emily purchases a silver engraved brush set for Homer, a brush set made for a gentleman's use.  That Homer is really no gentleman is evidenced by his drinking with the men at the Elks, and his appearance as he drives Emily's matched pair of horses:  his hat is cocked, he has a cigar in his teeth, and holds the reins and whip in a yellow [symbolic of degradation or evil] glove.  The boy of "Araby" has no maiden, either.  She is a mere girl from the brown neighborhood and she is unable to meet him at his supposed "exotic" location, the bazaar.

Clearly, both characters are deluded in their perceptions of courtship, with these courtships ending dismally.  The boy is alone at the bazaar as bitter tears sting his eyes with the recognition that his love has been mere fantasy.  Emily must poison her lover in order to keep him; he, too, is a fantasy, just a tangible one.

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A Rose for Emily

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