In "A Rose For Emily", was Emily a victim or victimizer?I have to do a compare and contrast essay on female treatments in "A Rose for Emily"

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ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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I absolutely love discussing the William Faulkner short story, “A Rose for Emily.” Is there anyone besides me who sees her father as more than “over protective?” Remember the scene where he stood in the doorway with the whip and she stood in the background as he drove off the suitors. Then shortly after her father died the physical transformation in her that was almost boyish--as if she was trying to deny her female sexuality. Is it possible she was victimized sexually by her father and then again by Homer who seemed to play her for a fool?

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ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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As with the case of many victimizers, Emily was first victimized herself. He was totally controlled by her father who refused to let her marry. Her father made her so dependent on him that when he died, she refused to let his body be buried. He left her little money but a prestigious name. That meant that people in the town treated Emily differently. They did not make friends with her, not because they disliked her, but because she came from a prominent family. She was trapped by the rules of polite Southern society. When a man finally came along who paid attention to her, Emily was determined to have him. She was not prepared for his refusal to marry, even though she must have heard he was gay. So, she simply made it impossible for him to leave. She poisoned him and kept his body in a place where she could pretend they had been married. She ended up controlling Homer even more that her father had controlled her.

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mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Well, we can feel for her a bit, and say several things played a role in her becoming a victim:  1.  Her sheltered upbringing probably made her naive and totally reliant on her caregiver, her father, so, when he died, she was traumatized by it.  The one person she knew, who was her world and all she knew of love, was gone.  2.  The gossipy townspeople were merciless in their conjecturing, judgments, and criticism.  3.  Homer Barron, for whatever reason, abandons her (the text hints at cousins shooing him away, or that he "wasn't the marrying type").  This is another example of someone she cared about disappearing, along with the love they represented.  4.  She was left penniless because of the whole "we don't have to pay taxes" situation. 

All of these reasons give understandable evidence for why Emily could be considered a victim.  Regardless, does it excuse her poisoning Homer and sleeping next to his rotting corpse for years on end?  Did she victimize Homer?  It doesn't take a lot of victimizing to lace someone's tea with arsenic...just a hint of possessiveness mixed with a dash of crazy.