A Rose for Emily Assignment
William Faulkner’s ‘A Rose for Emily’ talks about a woman who goes through so many transformations throughout her life, and lived a life with so many people judging her every move yet no one offered any help. Emily was born to a very strict father who did not even let her get married. The family had traits of insanity, though Emily did not reveal any until her father died. She kept his body in the house for three days without showing any signs of grief, and when she finally allowed people to take the body, she immediately transformed into a mourning state, even cutting her hair short. She even became thinner and kept to herself. People rarely saw her and started referring to her as ‘Poor Emily.’ (Faulkner)
Then she met a young man called Homer Barron, and people believed that they would get married. As usual, people had Emily’s life figured out. When she bought Arsenic, they said she was going to kill herself, and when she bought a man’s outfit, they believed that she had already gotten married to Homer. After a while, Homer hasn’t seen anymore. She started teaching art lessons, but when the students grew older, she stopped and retreated to her house, rarely to be seen again. Only after her death was Homer’s body discovered in her bed. (Faulkner) A Rose for Emily Assignment
A Rose for Emily is a book that attracted so many views, especially from feminists, considering how women were treated during her time. One such person is Judith Fetterley, who looks at what was expected of a woman during Emily’s time. Judith believes that Emily was forced to be what she didn’t want, but turned the situation around to work in her favor. Her father told her everything that he wanted her to do; her opinions did not matter. Unlike her fellow women who gained social status through the men they married, she could not even have a boyfriend. Therefore in the eyes of the society, she had no social standing. She was able to make everyone notice her, as people felt sorry and planned out her life. She was also able to evade taxes and get away with murder. (Fetterly)
At that particular time, women were not considered to have any reasoning or logic of their own. That is why instead of gaining skills and looking for jobs so as to establish themselves in the society, all they had to do was get married. The better placed a husband was, the better for the wife. That meant that the husband would be the judge and jury for the household. Therefore, when Emily talked about Colonel Sartoris, and the aldermen knew that he had been dead for over ten years, they did not bother to ask any more questions. According to them, Emily was not capable of simple reasoning that the man had simply died. (Fetterly) A Rose for Emily Assignment
Women were perceived as being very emotional and weak. After Emily’s father had died, everybody pitied her because he was the only person she had in the world. That is why when she goes bought arsenic, everybody thinks thought she was going to kill herself because she couldn’t take it anymore. After waiting and not seeing her dead, people don’t bother to ask what she did with the arsenic. It was all perceived to be part of the grieving process, and that somehow she had gotten over the suicidal thoughts. And since women are known for cleaning and cooking, the judge even felt wrong to accuse Emily of stinking.
That is one way of looking at it, which Judith chose to take. That the book wanted to demonstrate the position of women at the time and the roles that they played. Most of them are passive, with the ladies being rarely noticed, and perceived as numb and unable to make any sound decisions. However, some people feel that the book was written to demonstrate other purposes altogether. (Fetterly)
One such person is Celia Rodriguez, who believes that the book was all about contrasting the past with the present, and how people are not ready to accept changes. The past is mostly seen with Emily, for instance when she told the Aldermen that Colonel Sartoris had told her that she didn’t have to pay taxes anymore. Even though the colonel had died for over ten years, Emily refuses to let go and lives in that era within her mind. After her father dies, Emily is finally able to be with a man. She and Barron get together, and people think that they are going to get married. However, Barron changes his mind, but Emily is not ready to let go, so she kills him. After that she does not bury him or dumps the body, she lays it on the bed next to her, so that they can be together forever. It’s not clear what makes him behave this way, whether it’s the madness trait in the family or the fact that she was left alone and just couldn’t handle it.
Another critique comes from Cleanth Brooks, who writes that the book demonstrates Emily’s strong character that is unwavering all through. The first show of strength was Emily being raised by a very strict father who monitored everything that she did. It was not easy because he could not even allow her to be like the other women who got married and raised a family. She being obedient and following through with her father’s plan till he was gone shows that she was adamant. Others might have run away to live in another place, or simply to get married and secure a social status. When her father is gone, she can finally do what she’s wanted. Without caring for public’s criticism or concerns, she goes ahead and hooks up with Barron. People have all these ideas of what she should or shouldn’t do, but instead does what she wanted. Knowing what she wanted, she went ahead to acquire it. (Brooks)
That is why when Barron decides to leave her, Emily hears none of that and kills him so as not to lose him. She seems to have a game plan for everything. She also won’t pay taxes. She sticks to the fact that Colonel Sartoris told her she did not need to pay taxes. In the conversation with the Aldermen, she does not give a lot of stories or explanations, she just responds firmly and tells them they can confirm with the colonel, before ushering them out. Finally, despite everyone thinking that she was going to commit suicide, she doesn’t. Even with the stinking house because of the dead body inside, she continues living there. Considering the era they were in, where women were perceived as weak and had no say, probably Emily would have behaved differently. Even after killing Barron, Emily takes years teaching Art classes as if nothing had happened. Brook’s admires the way she carried herself and insists that only a strong woman could have done that. He also explains that the moral of the story is to warn people against pride. (Brooks)
A Rose for Emily Assignment
Blythe, Hal. “A Rose for Emily.” Literature for Composition. New York, 1996. 190-191.
Brooks, Cleanth. “A Rose for Emily.” Literature for Composition. New York, 1996. 190-191.
Faulkner, William. A rose for Emily. 1930.
Fetterly, Judith. “A Rose for ‘A Rose for Emily.” Barnet, Sylvan. Literature for Composition. New York, 1996. 193-196.
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