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Gothic Elements in “a Rose for Emily”

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Submitted By meagan
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William Faulkner’s captivating story “A Rose for Emily” is a shining example of gothic literature. Faulkner expresses sadness for the love that is not returned, and a drive that Miss Emily Grierson uses to get what she wishes for. He adapts a gloomy and mysterious tone in order to compare Miss Emily’s rejection to young adults today. Faulkner opens his story by expressing the amount of respect that is shown at Miss Emily’s funeral. It is said that the entire town attended this event, but also that some only showed up to see what the inside of her house looked liked because no one had been inside in over ten years. He explains this to show the mysterious appeal of Miss Emily. By explaining the mystery in Miss Emily, he conveys a dark tone that baffles the audience. Faulkner then shifts the story toward explaining what Miss Emily’s house had once looked like. It was a big grim house that was once white. It was the only one left on the street and many believes that it was an abomination to the community. It is evident that Miss Emily and her house are connected in a way. Miss Emily’s family was once one of the most prominent in the town because of the relationship the father had with Colonel Sartoris, but as she grew older the opinions of her social status changed along with her. Her father not only had great power within the community, he also had power over her as well. This authority is shown through the portrait that Faulkner painted in the story: Miss Emily a slender figure in white in the background, her father a straddled silhouette in the foreground, his back to her and clutching a horsewhip. He believed none of the young men in the town were good enough to court his daughter. She did not have relationships with anyone; because of this when her father died she clung on to his body for three days before they buried him. At the end of the second chapter the narrator explains,” We believed she had to do that. We remembered all the young men her father had driven away, and we knew that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will.” This would be an example of a gothic element. It shows that everything had a darker and a hidden side of things that everyone does not see. After her father died Miss Emily did not have a male figure to control her, and because of this she was ill for a long period. It is stated at the beginning of chapter three the next time the town folk seen her ‘her hair was short, and she looked like an angel on the church windows, tragic and serene’. She was in this state until she met Homer Barron, a Yankee. The narrator described him as being ‘a big, dark, ready man with a big voice, and eyes lighter than his face’. The community was happy for her to have an interest in someone, but the community thought she would be ashamed because her father would not approve of a common day laborer much less a Yankee. The older people thought that she should be ashamed because was not dating within her social status. After a year of gossip around the town Miss Emily bought the arsenic from the druggist. The druggist told her that she was required to state why she needed to purchase it but miss Emily would not say, so everyone believed she would commit suicide. This portrays another gothic element. This is confusion between good and evil, because she might not use the poison to commit suicide. She was then seen at the jewelers buying a man’s toilet set in all silver; she had the initials H.B. inscribed on them, everyone by this point knew they would marry, but Barron remarked that he liked men and he was not the marrying type. Although this contradicts the remarks of them marrying, they were still seen together with their heads held high. Neither the men nor the women wanted to interfere. When Miss Emily passes her house is open to the community. The women broke into a rage and opened a room that no one had seen for forty years. In the room was the tomb of Homer Barron. The room appeared to be decorated and furnished as if for a bride. In the bed was her lover, who she so desperately wanted to marry. She killed him, to keep him with her forever. William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” has many gothic themes such as, when Miss Emily purchases the arsenic and the tomb that lay buried in her house. These themes show that gothic literature consists of cryptic and dark settings and tones. This mysterious story is filled with violent events create suspense and terror. All these points are proof that William Faulkner was a great southern gothic writer.

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