Definitely, William Faulkner is one of the most controversial writers ever studied, a lot of his stories bring about the issues and questions, which has bothered humanity for a substantial period of time.
Faulkner is great at creating unusual settings for his stories, most of the personages he develops throughout the course of his stories are authentic and unique, and none of the other writers is able to reproduce the realistic appeal of the Faulkner’s characters.
A Rose for Emily is the perfect example of the writer’s style, most of the readers are somewhat shocked by the unusual issues the author elaborates upon in his famous story. I believe that one of the fundamental questions discussed within the course of the story is the psychological instability of Emily, Faulkner is creating the atmosphere which facilitates readers to find out for themselves what were the reasons of her psychological breakdown, and what consequences it triggered.
The main character is Emily Grierson, referred to as Miss Emily throughout the story. This story has many flashbacks and is told in five sections. The story starts with the death of Miss Emily and people going to her funeral. The narrator lets us know that the men where there out of respect and the women showed up to her house out of curiosity.
The house is described, as once being white and decorated, “ set on what had once been our most select street. ”(Faulkner, p.2) Knowing this we can assume that Emily’s origins are of upper-class status, which later leads to issues with her and her father.
The story obviously goes back and forth in time, telling the story of Emily’s life. The most significant part of her life is when her father dies. Emily’s father plays a large role in what type of person she becomes later in life. The fact that he felt “none of the men were quite good enough for Miss Emily and such,”(Faulkner, p.25) foreshadows her actions later in the story. Critic Donald Akers hints, “ Emily’s repressive life contributes to her rather severe psychological abnormality: necrophilia.”(Akers, p.67).
Later we find that Emily is in great denial because she will not admit that her father is dead. It takes three days before she lets the townspeople take her father’s body away. That is rather strange, the townspeople do not understand why would Emily want to have a dead man’s body at her house, they believe that her psychological instability is in progress, however there is not much they can do about it.
Most probably, Emily was mentally ill due to the fact that her father never let her have a boyfriend. She shows the first signs of instability when her father dies and she does not let anyone take him away. The next sign of this problem of denying death is when the aldermen come to collect taxes. She insists they go talk to Colonel Sartoris, when at this time Colonel Sartoris has been dead for ten years. Emily could not stand the thought that Homer might leave her; and that is where Faulkner lets us assume that Emily has killed him.
Thus, Faulkner succeeded in creating the image of the psychologically instable woman, who was avoided by most of the townspeople and became the central part of the town’s gossips. Emily’s psychological problems appear to be the major topic of the story, the author does a great job in showing how her illness progresses and makes her do things, which a normal person would never even think about. Emily is neglecting her neighbors, she does not want to communicate with the townspeople and rarely leaves her house.
She does not want to accept the very concept of death, the death of her father and his disapproval of her having a boyfriend being the primary reasons for her madness. Faulkner has created a great and unique story about a psychologically instable person, although a lot of readers are shocked at various facts and conclusions he makes, the story is remembered for a long time after anyone reads it.
Faulkner William. Selected Works. New York: Random House Inc., 1980.
Mellard, James M. “Faulkner’s Miss Emily and Blake’s ‘Sick Rose’: ‘Invisible Worm,’ Nachtrдglichkeit, and Retrospective Gothic.” Faulkner Journal 2.1 (Fall 1986): pp. 37-45.
Akers, Donald. Overview of A Rose for Emily, for Short Stories for Students, Gale, 1999. Reproduced in Literature Resource Center.
Burduck, Michael L. Another View of Faulkner’s Narrator in `A Rose for Emily’, in The University of Mississippi Studies in English, Vol. VIII, 1990, pp. 209-211. Reproduced in Literature Resource Center.
Davis, William V., “Another Flower for Faulkner’s Bouquet: Theme and Structure in ‘ A Rose for Emily’, in Notes on Mississippi Writers, Vol. VII, No. 2, Fall, 1974, pp. 348 Reproduced in Literature Resource Center.