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Writing Essays – The Monster in Faulkner’s Story, A Rose for Emily
To help you write literature essays, here is a short analysis I did of William Faulkner’s acclaimed short story, “A Rose for Emily” (NOTE: You may want to read and study the story online while following my reasoning, here, so create another tab in your browser, then go to Google Search and type “A Rose for Emily” and make sure you put in the quotes – you can use ALT-TAB to move between the story and this article):
As I have pointed out in other articles, every story, be it a short story or a novel, has to have some major change at the end. This change is the most important factor to consider when analyzing and then writing essays on any story, whether short or long.
What is that change? Why, a new reverse view, of course, always!
I’ll show you how to use the following three-step New Views analysis process on Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily,” which you can then use in any short story:
#1 – At the beginning of a short story, the main character or about the main character gives a strong value statement, an ancient view, affirming an evaluation or describing some characteristic, goal or desire.
As we begin this masterful short story, the old vision jumps right at us: it’s the first sentence:
When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women chiefly out of curiosity to see the interior of their house, which no one, except an old servant—a gardener and a cook combined—had seen in at least ten years.
Note that I have it in bold respectful affection. That sounds like a pretty strong value statement, doesn’t it, especially since the “whole city went to her funeral.” The question is, how will that positive value of Emily change at the end of the story?
#2 – In the middle of a short story, the old view is supported or undermined with descriptions, conflicts, and conflict resolutions that shape the new view at the end.
Now, I’m not going to comment on everything in the story. But did you notice that every section of the story has something to do with the townspeople’s respect for Emily? Sometimes there was even affection along with the respect.
DESCRIPTION: Several descriptions occur in this short story, but one stands out from the rest. In the first section, after the brief introduction, the town alderman’s board (councilmen) came to his mansion to meet with Miss Emily to convince her to pay her taxes, and… They rose as she entered: a small, fat woman in black, with a thin gold chain that went down to her waist and disappeared into her belt, leaning on an ebony staff with a tarnished gold head. His skeleton was small and thin, bloated…
Note that Miss Emily is dressed in black, with a contrast a thin gold chain that went down to her waist and disappeared into her belt. At the end of that chain, of course, is a watch, making a figure eight of the chain with the watch out of sight at the end, over her abdomen. His body is covered black clothes and she is swollenboth face and abdomen, while his arms and legs are small and spare or thin, like the cane she carries.
We cannot understand the meaning of this description until the new vision in the final scene of the story, which I will discuss then, of course. Just keep this description in mind, okay? We will return to this at the end of this discussion.
CONFLICT: In the second section, the neighbors complain that the bad smells from Emily’s house are polluting the neighborhood. But the city councilors with respect he refuses to talk to Emily about it, he refuses to do it accuse a lady to her face of smelling bad.
RESOLUTION: To avoid a conflict with Emily over the smell, the aldermen with respect they took it upon themselves to go out at night and sprinkled lemon on the grounds and in the cellar of Emily’s house to get rid of the smell. The smell disappears in two weeks.
CONFLICT: Also in the second section, Emily refused for three days to admit that her father had died and would not let anyone in to take his body to prepare it for burial.
RESOLUTION: The show of the people of the town respectful pity for Emily for not forcing herself in and taking the body to prepare it for the funeral and burial. After three days, their respectful sorrow finally influences Emily, who literally it broke emotionally and let them in.
CONFLICT: The third section ends in a conflict that Emily has with the town apothecary. She asks the apothecary for some poison. But because he is required by law to record what the poison will be used for, the apothecary keeps trying to get Emily to say what he will do with the poison. But Miss Emily just looked at him. No matter what the apothecary said, she wouldn’t answer the question.
RESOLUTION: The apothecary gave Emily the poison anyway, despite the law. He simply filled in the information himself, For rats, without any input from her. He gave in to Emily out of respect because of his social position, no doubt, as we have seen so many times.
DISPUTE RESOLUTION: Towards the end of the fourth section, there was a small conflict and a resolution that happened quickly, with Emily winning another conflict because of the town problem. respectful affection for her: When the town received the free mail, only Miss Emily refused to let them affix the metal numbers over her door and attach a mailbox to her. She didn’t hear them.
In every instance of conflict in history, respectful affection for Emily and respect because her social position is what resolves the conflict that the neighbors have with Emily’s behavior.
#3. At the end of a short story, a new, inverse view of the old is often revealed.
In section five of the story, at Emily’s funeral, the townspeople wait with respect until Emily is buried before they break in (which can also be seen as a sort of conflict/resolution) in the top room of their mansion, which has been locked away for years, probably decades. The room is covered in very fine dust, and there they find a decomposing skeleton on the bed, obviously belonging to Homer, Emily’s boyfriend from decades ago.
On the pillow right next to the skeleton is the surprise: they find a deep notch where someone must have placed their head several times and not recently, because there they find a long lock of iron gray hair in the indentation: Emily’s hair, no doubt, since Faulkner described Emily’s hair as iron gray.
Here is the new view respectful affection of the inhabitants of the town at the beginning of history must turn around, must reverse to a fort repulse after learning that Emily killed her lover and slept with his decomposing body for many years, even decades. It takes some kind of a repulsive monster to do something like that!
With that thought in mind, remember Emily’s description in the first section: a small fat woman in black. While not a perfect match, that description is pretty close to that of a black widow spider. Remember the figure eight – o fine gold chain – ending out of sight in the swollen abdomen? And the replacement or thin members, with the reed adding a fifth type of limb, which is one more than half of the eight limbs of a spider? Remember the fat, swollen body? So this vision of Emily killing her lover is very similar to a black widow spider killing her male partner.
Why did the townspeople go into that locked room in the first place? They weren’t sure what was in there, but they hoped to find it something important there, obviously. And that something provided a new reverse view respectful affection for Miss Emily, at least for the reader, if not for the townspeople, too.
Now, these examples of thesis statements can help give you some ideas for writing a strong essay on William Faulkner’s short story, “A Rose for Emily.”
- Faulkner uses his short story,A rose for Emily, to illustrate the theme that “Human nature can be corrupted when an individual is given too much unearned privilege and too much undeserved respectful affection.”
- In a surprise ending, William Faulkner’s short story, A rose for Emily, it reveals how a society imbued with a tradition of respect for social position can be so tragically, so ironically wrong.
- In A rose for EmilyFaulkner repeatedly uses conflict and resolution to hammer it home respectful affection the neighbors have for Emily-until the end.
- Descriptive images about the mansion A rose for Emily it adds to the revelation about Miss Emily’s true character at the end, which has been hidden around the house for decades.
- In A rose for Emilythe simple long lock of iron gray hair in the end it becomes a symbol suggesting that Emily killed her boyfriend, which explains the incidents of the smell, the rat poison and the disappearance of Homer, not to mention that it reverses the omnipresence of the townspeople. respectful affection for emily
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