How is Miss Emily's house used as a metaphor in William Faulkner's “A Rose for Emily”?Discuss the ways in which Faulkner uses Miss Emily's house as an appropriate setting and as a metaphor for...
Discuss the ways in which Faulkner uses Miss Emily's house as an appropriate setting and as a metaphor for both her and the themes established by the narrative.
The house is a symbol of a time gone by, even as the neighborhood goes downhill. Emily has managed to live there with few questions asked, not even having to pay taxes or to account for where Homer vanished to, largely because parts of the community still adhere to these old codes of honor. As the judge tells one younger man, "Dammit, sir … will you accuse a lady to her face of smelling bad?" The genteel mores of older residents of the town allow Emily to keep her terrible secret. In this sense, the house might be a symbol of the South itself, which also hid terrible truths underneath an idealized veneer.
The house becomes the cloister that holds, protects and isolated Miss Emily. It can be seen as a metaphor for and extension of her will to maintain a preference for the past. As the other houses on the street are replaced by businesses, Miss Emily's house stubbornly remains. It is closed in by change, but, in its turn, closes out those changes which assault it.
The house endures, persisting as if the world will not age, even while the house servant grows older and Emily does too.
Miss Emily's house was representive of the Old Victorian style of the late 1870's with its fancy details and show of wealth, and that matches the status of her father and her in her younger days. It reinforces her characterization as someone who at one time had respect in the community. It is easy to picture a fine home that would seem to be the home of a person who is above reproach.
As Miss Emily was once young and beautiful, so, too was her house. As Miss Emily became old and refused to change with the times, so did her house remain the same as the rest of the neighborhood changed around it. And, as Miss Emily had many secrets of her own, the house also shared at least one with her as well.