What are the three main factors which shaped the character of Miss Emily in Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily"?

Expert Answers
dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Three main factors which shaped Miss Emily's character are history, family, and isolation.

Miss Emily is viewed as a "fallen monument...a tradition".  She is a part of history, remnant of a bygone era - specifically the Old South - and its former glory in Jefferson.  In her stubborn refusal to change with the passing of generations, she reflects the destruction and decay of "august" Southern society, post-bellum.

Miss Emily was "the last Grierson", an old Southern family whose influence is synonymous with the history of Jefferson.  As such she was expected to maintain a certain "dignity", which she did imperviously, stubbornly holding herself above the general populace.  Her father, a tremendous influence in her life, effectively kept Miss Emily from having suitors while he was alive, because "none of the young men were quite good enough for (her)".  Except for Homer Barron, she never really socialized, and she refused to pay taxes because of an age-old decree exempting her family. 

Miss Emily's family ties and her status as an icon left her isolated and terribly lonely.  It is this isolation which caused her to seek love so desperately, and to cling to its perceived memory even when it was gone.  Miss Emily's need to have someone love her crossed the border of madness, as she held fast to the corpses of first her father and then her "lover" Homer Barron.

gbeatty eNotes educator| Certified Educator

All of these main factors shaping Miss Emily intersect. They are factors specific to her family (her father, mainly).Factors specific to her family in context, which means how the town saw her family, and then her.General factors, such as ideals of what a Southern woman should be and do.

Read the study guide:
A Rose for Emily

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question