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Literature Contrast Essay

Compare between A Clear Well-lighted Place and A Rose for Emily Abstract: Hemingway and Faulkner both were winners of the Nobel Prize in literature, and had world-wide fame. Although they were close friends, they created rather distinct literary world for their readers. A Clear Well-lighted Place and A Rose for Emily are rather typical of their works. This essay aims to reveal the differences and uncover their unique appeal through analyzing these two novels from four perspectives: theme; character; characterization; writing style. Key Words:Hemingway;Faulkner; theme; character; characterization; writing style.

Introduction: A Clear Well-lighted Place expresses an old man’s loneliness and despairs for life. The old man wanted to stay up in the bar and kept drinking, while the young waiter complained a lot and drove him away, but the older waiter showed more sympathy. A Rose for Emily is also a sad story about a girl named Emily who was raised by her father and forbidden to contact with outsides. she poisoned her boyfriend and kept his corpus beside her till death. . Theme The theme of a novel is its controlling idea or its central insight. Being an idea or an insight, the theme should be capable of unifying the whole novel.

A Clear Well-lighted Place is the one of early works of Hemingway. The depression and hopelessness left by the world war were not easy to be erased. People may be rich, like the millionaire, but when night dawned, his loneliness and despair for this world force him to find a clear well-lighted place, for light symbolized hope. Faulkner’s work mainly depicted life in Southern slavery-based society, and try desperately to reproduce a south town around the civil war and focused on people’s stubbornness: they refused to admit the original south was gone.

This story spanned about 74 years telling a life being restricted and isolated and in return try to isolate others. Character The old man’s character is complex, being depressed and wearisome, but still kept his dignity; rich, but unhappy; mature, but lost his belief. For example, “It was very late and everyone had left the cafe except an old man who sat in the shadow the leaves of the tree made against the electric light. In the day time the street was dusty, but at night the dew settled the dust and the old man liked to sit late because he was deaf and now at night it was quiet and he felt the difference.

”(A Clear Well-lighted Place. Ernest Hemingway) This paragraph is at the beginning. He would rather spend the time sipping alone. Besides, he chooses to sit under the shadow instead of the light, and the shadow symbolize the gloom and despair. However, in the William Faulkner’s novel, A Rose for Emily , arrogance, mental confusion, stubbornness and a nature passion for love have all together shaped Emily, and have eventually led to her doom. Her loneliness accompanied her for her whole life. “I want some poison,” she said. “Yes, Miss Emily.

What kind? For rats and such? I’d recom–” “I want the best you have. I don’t care what kind. ” The druggist named several. “They’ll kill anything up to an elephant. But what you want is–” “Arsenic,” Miss Emily said. “Is that a good one? ” “Is . . . arsenic? Yes, ma’am. But what you want–” “I want arsenic. “(A Rose for Emily. William Faulkner) This is a conversation about Miss Emily. From the dialog between Miss Emily and druggist . when the druggist did not finish, Emily interrupted in and say she did not care. We can see her arrogance.

When the druggist asked many times about her want, Emily pay no attention and repeated the word arsenic again and again. It showed her stubbornness. Characterization In the dramatic Characterization method the author form our opinion of the characters from what they do and say, from their environment, and from what other characters think of them. Just like the story in A Clear Well-lighted Place, Through the monologue of the older waiter, we know the old man’s loneliness and desire for light and hope. Through the old man’s own behaviour, like staying up under the shadow, we know his despairs and gloominess.

In the analytic method the author comments upon the characters, explaining their motives, their appearance, and their thought. The narrator of A Rose for Emily is called “first person” . The author uses much comments upon the characters. For Emily, he shows more sympathy than blame, and he owe her tragedy to the unjust doings of her father. Writing Style Their images in A Clear Well-lighted Place are shown vividly with concise and plain words, and refined rhetorical skills. Ernest Hemingway advocates using the simplest and fewest words, direct description and short sentence.

For example,In the daytime the street was dusty, but at night the dew settled the dust and the old man liked to sit late because he was deaf and now at night it was quiet and he felt the difference. (A Clear Well-lighted Place. Ernest Hemingway) In this excerpt, few adjectives and no difficult words are used. Also there are no long sentences and compound sentences. While Ernest Hemingway pursues the beauty of simplicity, his friend William Faulkner become a master of a rhetoric, highly symbolic style . which will employ many long complex sentences.

For example, 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 mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one save an old man-servant—a combined gardener and cook—had seen in at least ten years. (A Rose for Emily. William Faulkner) Notice the dash, commas and the clauses. In fact, clauses found in the sentence are in opposition of each other, and so Faulkner successfully depicts a sound scene within one sentence.


We have studied two classical novels from the four perspectives: theme; character; characteristics; writing style. Both novels told sad stories, but their theme are distinct. The first story lasted for one night while the second one spanned for 74 years and covered much more content. The old man and Emily shared the loneliness, but the other features varied a lot. The first story was short, simple and full of philosophical meanings, nevertheless, Faulkner’s lengthy and obscure. Despite of all these differences, they made good impression on reader.

One is like the sharp mountain, clear, simple, but not easily to climb, while the other is a lengthy river, twisted, obscure, and need you to dive in to feel it. References: [1] ??? ·??. ???? [M]. ?? : ??????? ,1983: 32. [2] ??? ,???. “?????????????? ”[J].???????? ( ????? ) ,2010,( 7) : 105 – 107. [3] ???. ???????? [M]. ?? : ????????? ,2002: 6. [4] Justus,James H. Hemingway and Faulkner: Vision and Repudiation [J]. The Kenyon Review,New Series,1985,7( 49) : 1 – 14. [5] Philip M. Weinstein. ?????? ———?? ·??? [M].?? : ????????? ,2000. [6] ???? ·??. ???? [M]. ?? : ??????????? ?,2006.

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