How could "A Rose for Emily" be written as a formula fiction and does Faulkner's version have formulaic elements?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Since the label of formulaic fiction is pejorative, implying a lack of originality, one must hesitate to use it against such as William Faulkner, to be sure. Notwithstanding Faulkner's originality, "A Rose for Emily" does fall within the genre of Southern Gothic and, thus, does have elements of genre fiction. And, since formulaic fiction is similar to genre fiction, an argument can be made.

Perhaps, then, the way to rewrite "A Rose for Emily" is to employ more Gothic elements. The story does have the following elements:

  1. archetypes - The patriarchal father, Colonel Sartoris
  2. the grotesque - Emily becomes this when her necromancy is discovered
  3. exposition of the problems of the social order in the South, strange behaviors of Emily
  4. morality of characters is questionable
  5. struggle for a place in the society
  6. story is set in a Southern town with shifting social structure

Other elements that could be developed are the following:

  1. dark humor - For instance, some dark jokes about Homer Barron
  2. stream of consciousness from character as narrator/ character mentally unbalanced - For example, one section could give Emily an interior monologue
  3. the grotesque (Emily fits this at the end) Maybe Emily could be seen somewhere outside at one time
  4. supernatural elements - For example, the odd smell around the house could be given some added elements of supernatural nature (i.e. lightning,etc.)
  5. symbolism - see the critical essays on the link below
Sources:

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