According to the narrator, the town of Jefferson views Miss Emily as dear, inescapable, impervious and tranquil. A common definition for “dear” is loved or beloved. I am not very convinced that this is the meaning that Faulkner had in mind when describing Miss Emily. However she was an icon of the town, and well known. Due to Miss Emily’s history with the town the town people do a have a found respect for her. Dear can also mean important which would fit because she and her past have always been an important part of the town’s history. Another definition of dear is appealing or pretty.
This is ironic because as Miss Emily ages she becomes the opposite. She is described as looking “bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water”; making it quite clear she is far from appealing. Another word the narrator uses to describe Miss Emily is “inescapable”. This word means just what it sounds like. Literally, Miss Emily doesn’t even ever leave, or “escape”, her house and is rarely seen out in public. This goes along with her being described as a recluse. The Board of Aldermen sees her as an inescapable problem because she refuses to pay the taxes.
The town feels as if they are inescapable from her because she unconsciously does things that draw attention to her. She refuses to pay her taxes; she leaves dead bodies in the house, which makes a putrid smell emerge, and creates a distress among the town people. The town people in turn, must find ways to cover up the smell and sneakily go and cover it up in the late hours of the night. “Impervious”, is another word used to explain Miss Emily’s behavior. The definition “incapable of being influenced, persuaded or affected”, applies specifically to this story.
Miss Emily is extremely stubborn. She refuses to pay her taxes even after the Board of Aldermen’s best efforts to persuade her to pay them. They send notices, hand written letters and even a deputation to her house. She simply refuses. She is unaffected by the people of the town and lives individually for the majority of her life. Another definition is “not permitting penetration or passage”. This applies specifically to her house. Her house offers no visitors for years upon years. No one is seen entering or exiting the house besides Emily occasionally and Negro male servant.
Miss Emily is also described as being “tranquil”, meaning calm; free from commotion or tumult. To the people on the outside Miss Emily is seen as tranquil because nothing exciting ever appears to be going on in her household, people never come and go and she seems to be somewhat content with her life. She doesn’t ever seem to create a seen or commotion aside from her refusal to pay the taxes. Another definition is: “free from or unaffected by disturbing emotions”. Miss Emily doesn’t seem to be affected by the emotions of love, which leads many people to pity her.
She does seem to love a man name Homer when he comes along, but this does cause Miss Emily to be affected by emotions, little do the town people know. The last word used to describe Miss Emily would be perverse. The most fitting definition I found for perverse that pertains to Miss Emily would be “wicked, or corrupt”. Miss Emily is definitely wicked and corrupt. She would also be categorized as grotesque. Many things Miss Emily do supports this theory. Miss Emily seemed to have found love in Homer Barron but because he would not marry her she went to the extreme and murdered him.
She bought arsenic and poisoned him one day. As if murdering him wasn’t enough, she left his body in her bed, surrounded in a bridal decorated room. To add to her perverseness, when people finally entered the house on the day of her funeral, they noticed that on the pillow next to his dead body in the bed, there was an “indentation of a head”, and they saw “a long strand of iron-gray hair. ” Miss Emily’s hair was iron gray. This makes clear that Miss Emily continued to sleep with the dead body of Homer Barron. Needless to say, Miss Emily was an extremely perverse human being.
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