How do the point of view, characters, and symbolism in "A Rose for Emily" and "The Tell-Tale Heart" compare?

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The stories are about two women. In the story by William Faulkner, Miss Emily is a single woman living in a small town called Jefferson. She grew up in a wealthy family and was soon to marry her sweetheart Homer Barron. Two weeks after the wedding the groom was found dead on the river bank with a gunshot wound to his chest. He had been reported missing for three days prior to this discovery. The community had been looking for him during that time period and thought he might have drowned himself because of his drinking problem. Miss Emily stopped seeing people after that time and went into seclusion, even though she was still young enough to have children if she wanted them later on in life.

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Although their publication dates are almost ninety years apart, "The Tell-Tale Heart" (1843) and "A Rose for Emily" (1930) are both recognizably gothic short stories. The latter belongs to the genre of Southern gothic, in which some of the macabre atmosphere is attributable to the setting: a defeated South haunted...

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by its grandiose past. This is particularly applicable to the character of Miss Emily Grierson, a Southern grande dame who lives entirely in the past, a peculiarity echoed by the structure of the story, which begins with her funeral, then returns episodically to the past.

The most obvious difference between Miss Emily and the unnamed narrator of "The Tell-Tale Heart" is that the former is icily composed, whereas the latter admits to being dreadfully nervous and continually accuses the reader of thinking him mad (which, by the end of the story, the reader almost certainly does). Miss Emily may be just as delusional, but she remains coolly detached from those around her, never feeling the need to explain herself to anyone. The ease with which she repels the deputation of public officials who try to collect taxes from her is in stark contrast to the frenetic conduct of Poe's narrator when confronted with the police. It is entirely fitting that, while the most potent symbols in Poe's story are the grisly open eye of the old man and a heart that goes on beating after death, the rose that symbolizes Faulkner's sympathy for Emily does not even appear in the story, except in the title.

Miss Emily is able to retain her mystique partly because, unlike "The Tell-Tale Heart," the story is not told from her point of view. Although she is a public figure in Jefferson, her privacy is so completely sacrosanct that, for from hiding Homer Barron's corpse under the floorboards, she leaves it in plain sight in a room which no one thinks to open until her death.

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In these stories of suspicious deaths, the narrative is in first-person. In Edgar Allan Poe's story, this person is the self-confessed murderer. The narrator is a younger person who has killed an old man and then dismembered and buried the man's body. The two of them (the murderer and their victim) lived in the same house. Neither character is named, and the gender of the narrator is not given.

William Faulkner's story also concerns two people in a house, although the reader is not told for certain that Homer resided in Emily's home. The first-person narrator takes considerable trouble to convince the reader that they are an authoritative source on the events in that house as well as in the town. The narrator is not named, and their gender is not established.

Poe's narrator confesses to the murder, rationalizing their actions by blaming the old man and also blaming him for their need to confess. Two important symbols are the victim's heart—which the narrator insists they heard beating after the old man's death—and his eye, which always looked on the narrator (they could not do the killing until it was closed). The fantastic details of the killing and the dismemberment raise doubts as to whether or not the murder even happened: it all could have happened in the narrator's mind.

Faulkner's narrator tells us a great deal about Emily, who had been very dependent on her tyrannical father. After his death, she apparently suffered a mental decline. The narrator describes her as elderly, overweight, and unattractive. The reader learns that, after her death, the dead body of Homer was found in her home.

The narrator seems convinced that she murdered her former suitor, but this is never proven. He may have died a natural death, or someone else might have killed him; the latter possibility is implied by the fact that the handyman left town immediately upon her death. The most important symbols are the rose—representing faded youth—and the pink of Emily's bedroom, which is also related to this theme.

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Ok, here goes:

Point of View: The Tell-Tale Heart is told in first person, which you can identify because the narrator says "I". A Rose For Emily APPEARS to be written in 3rd person, but if you look closely, you will see that the narrator uses words like "our" in the first sentence and "we" and "our" in the paragraph that begins with "That was when people had begun to feel really..." So, this story, too, is told in first person. It is unknown, however, who this narrator is, but one can assume that it is one of the officials or assistants to an official or a police officer as he was one of the people to go into Miss Emily's house and discover the dead bodies.

Characters: The narrator from "Tell-Tale" is a man who is most likely the caregiver of the old man that he kills. He is clearly mentally disturbed which can be garnered from the way that he talks and 'assures' us that he is not insane at all. Miss Emily is not insane initially, but may have been driven to a type of twisted insanity as her life spirals downward. Both characters are murderers, however, Miss Emily's crime is one which she committs through careful thought and planning--she buys poison. And yes, the 'Tell-Tale' narrator carefully executes his plan, but does so based on urges and whims that he cannot control.

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