General words about William Faulkner and his A Rose for Emily B. The definition of gothic fiction C. The development of gothic fiction in modern time II. The gothic characteristics in A Rose for Emily A. The topic is mainly about murder, dead, violence and necrophilia, which is the “gothic topic” B. The character of Emily is stubborn, eccentric and mysterious, who is involved in “gothic form” C. The description of environment adopts the typical “gothic style” D.
The flashback in A Rose for Emily expresses the mysterious atmosphere III.
Conclusion: The perfect combination of the gothic form with realistic content in A Rose for Emily Abstract: This paper discusses the creative purpose of A Rose for Emily on the angle of the traditional gothic elements of European and American literature. It points out that William Faulkner uses the gothic characteristics in many aspects, such as topic, hero, environment and plot, etc. Meanwhile, he fills it with fresh air, symbolic meaning and his own emotion.
All of these make A Rose for Emily rise at a perfect peak—the combination of gothic form and realistic content, so that the short storyis not only superior to the traditional “Black Romanticism”, but superior to the “Realism” in Victoria Age. Key words: William Faulkner, A Rose for Emily, gothic characteristics. I. Introduction A. General words about William Faulkner and his A Rose for Emily William Faulkner is one of the most distinguish writer in American literature. He was born in the South, and he wrote people, background and cases in the South.
As the appearance of Faulkner, the South appeared the literary glories of “the South Renaissance”, which ever was called “the literary desert. “(Yu Jianhua, 2004: 460) Maybe there is never an American writer such as Faulkner who catches so many eyes of professors and critics. Even his short story, A Rose for Emily, some writers have discussed and explored it in many ways. However, this essay tries to discuss Faulkner’s creative purpose in the gothic style, which had a great influence on European and American literature. And it is to discover something new to give the reader enlightenment and thinking. B.
The definition of gothic fiction The word “Goth” came from the name of a Germanic trap. The gothic people were famous for their brutal and uncivilized qualities. They ever lived in north Europe , then invaded in Rome Empire around the third AD century to the fifth AD century, and set many kingdoms in Italy, Spain, south part of France and north Africa. A thousand years later, after the Rome Empire died out, Italian Vasari (1511–1574) used the “Goth” for the first time to refer to an architectural style in middle age, which was “tall sharp pointed, vaulted roof or tower ,narrow windows, colorful glass, darkness houses, gloomy ladders.
“(Xiao Minghan, 2001: 9) The so-called “Gothic Revival” appeared in aspects of architecture and literature during eighteenth century to nineteenth century, which was the gloomy and depressed tone in middle age. Meanwhile, some literary works enjoyed the same tone with “Gothic fiction” in the time. Take Horace Walpole for example, his “The Castle of Otranto” set an example for early classic gothic fiction. The birth of “Gothic fiction” is not only related with the “Gothic feeling” of the cemetery poetry of England, but related with the “Gothic style” aesthetic standard of Edmund Burke (1729–1797) as well.
C. The development of gothic fiction in modern time The gothic style became prevail and spread quickly from England to the whole Europe and the U. S in the eighteenth century. And it had a great influence on American literature to some certain extent. Charles Brown (1771–1810), the most famous American representative in this field, vividly portrayed the terrified psychology of his hero in a gloomy tone and mysterious environment. II. The gothic characteristics in A Rose for Emily Faulkner lived in the South for a life long, and the field of south fertilized him and shaped his character.
“Therefore, his habit, thinking way and life attitude closely related with this unfortunate field. “(Jay Parinier, 1989:2031) As the representative of the American traditional thinking,” the most important and unconscious content” had deeply precipitated in the deep of his heart. That is why he showed his love to his hometown in such an unusual way–exposed the faults and gloomy aspects of the South. Maybe gothic characteristic in A Rose for Emily is the best way to express his emotion. A.
The topic is mainly about murder, death, violence and necrophilia, which is the “gothic fiction” First of all, the topic is mainly about murder, death, violence and necrophilia. It “vividly pictures a terrified story of an old virgin. Emily is the last member of the Grierson. She is a slim and gentle lady, but she almost loses her beauty when she appears again in her 30’s, “She looks bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water, and of that pallid hue. “(para6) She dies in her 74 years old finally. “Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town.
“( para3) As long as Emily is dead, all the proud and dignity of gentle lady is dead out. Even in order to give her a hand, the premayor Colonel Sartoris only uses an excuse to avoid hurting her. Emily has been separated from the outside for nearly forty years after her father’s death and after the missing of her fiance??. “Daily, monthly, yearly we watched the Negro grow grayer and more stooped, going in and out with the market basket. “(para33) Sometimes, people could see her through the window, only find her “like the carven torso of an idol in a niche”.
(para33) It is until the end of her funeral that the people discover the secret which they find Homer’s skeleton in a locked room. Obviously, the gentle lady deliberately performs and covers a murder. Critics regard that Emily retaliates by killing the north man with poison because he refuses to marry her. However, on another angle, Emily is too empty to comfort herself. In order to make a man accompany with her, she has no choice but kills him–in the way, she can stay with him forever. But this “gain” just is the forever “lost”. The moment she kills him, she is dead in spirit.
The grief, desolation and sadness fill in her inner heart forever. Emily can not stand the fact that a south lady courts a north worker but fails. It is a perfect satire under the history condition in that time. Even like this, she still “carried her head high enough–even when we believed that she was fallen. ” (para21) In a word, the topic of A Rose for Emily is the “Gothic topic”, which describes about murder and dead. B. The character of Emily is stubborn, eccentric and mysterious, who is involved in “gothic form” The character of Emily is involved in “Gothic form”.
She is stubborn, eccentric and mysterious. She has been isolated from the outside world for forty-year since her father is dead and Homer’s missing. Her door remains closed all the year round and refuses all the visitors. Actually, she is an unrealistic stubborn woman. She does not want to dispose of her father’s body, and “She told them that her father was not dead. ” (para15) Despite the law, she refuses to pay the taxes and repeats that “I have no taxes in Jefferson. “(para8) Moreover, she asks the officials to get explanation from Colonel Sartoris, who ever remit her taxes.
It seems that she dose not know Colonel Sartoris was dead before ten years. ” It can be believed that her refusal to pay the taxes symbolizes the refusal to accept the changed society to some extent. “(Zhu Zhenwu, 2003:34) She takes pain to keep her superior, dignity and the southern fair lady impression. Emily is a typical example of the dead south. ” The failure of the Civil War brought corruption and decline to the South, which was very obvious in economy and politics. “(Zhang Kuiwu, 2002:74) However, it is imperceptible in moral and psychology.
The South originally had their own unique economic form, cultural style, life way and moral standard, even their own language. All of these elements “easily stimulated the southerner rise a feeling of the nostalgia, which had solidified for the failure of the South in the Civil War. “(Yu Jianhua, 2004: 460) Therefore, the war led to a strange contradictory phenomenon: the old South “die” as long as the failure of the war, but it more obstinately “survive” than any other times. The South “died” in society and economy, but it is still “alive” in the culture and mental.
Pitiable Emily is solidified by time. She falls into the past glories and honors of the South, but can not be brave enough to face the real life. Faulkner vividly pictures the southerners’ subtle, complicated and contradictory psychology through Emily. Emily only is the epitome of the southern declining aristocracies. As the famous critic Malcolm Cloy says “The southern people lived under so heavy pressure that they almost lost their rational behavior, but responded mechanically. “(Yu Jianhua, 2004: 460) Thus, they broke out some uncontrollable violence and unreasonable behaviors occasionally. On the other hand, they tightly clung on the luxury and glories in the past to escape the reality, which seems extremely unrealistic and ridiculous. In this way, Faulkner criticizes the southerners who live in a new time but keep outdated mind. And this distorted psychology is exactly the spiritual essence of the collapsing old south. Standing on a new angle, Faulkner re-examines closely and explains all of these, and sympathizes the southerners’ thinking way and moral standard. C.
The description of environment adopts the typical “gothic style” Besides the topic and “character are the gothic elements, the description of environment in A Rose for Emily adopts the typical “Gothic style”. Emily’s house and both inside and outside environment are gothic ones. Emily’s house is a special style building made of wood. When her parents are alive, the house is noble style, which “had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the Seventies.
“(para2) As the time passes, however, the house still keeps its outdated style and “lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay. “(para2) We could feel an incompatible atmosphere with the age. Several years later, the deputation has a chance to go into Emily’s house for the first time. They went into “a dim hall from which a stairway mounted into still more shadow. ” (para5) Moreover, there was “a dust and disuse–a close, dank smell”(para5) in the air. The parlor was “furnished in heavy, leather–covered furniture. “(para5) Faulkner describes a dim and mysterious picture for us.
It was really shocking what the town people see in Emily’s base room. “A thin, acrid pall as of the tomb seemed to lie everywhere upon this room decked and furnished as a bridal. “(para39) Homer’s skeleton “had apparently once lain in the attitude of an embrace. “(para40) The second pillow which in the same bed was the indentation of a head. It is clearly that it was Emily’s “long strand of iron–gray hair. ” (para41) Homer had been missed for forty years, and Emily had been slept with his skeleton for forty years. A sepulchral atmosphere spreads the air. It is shocking and absolutely terrified.
But it is not Faulkner who originally adds the terror element in fiction; it is the traditional style of “gothic fiction. ” Faulkner not only uses this style in A Rose for Emily, but exaggerates several details such as murder, violence, etc. D. The flashback in A Rose for Emily expresses the mysterious atmosphere Last but not least, Faulkner deliberately sets a flashback form to tell the story. At the beginning, Emily is dead at her seventy–six years old. The whole town went to her funeral for different purposes: the men have a respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women curious to see her inner house.
Who is Emily? What kind of person is she? Faulkner immediately catches readers’ interest to read on. She once was beautiful and slim, but her father drove all the men who pursue her. Only after her father died, she could date with a Northerner. Unfortunately, she could not marry with him, which hurt her so deeply that she had to keep herself far from the world from then on. However, the ending is out of expectation. She was shrewd and unscrupulous. She secretly murdered her fiance by rat poison, and kept his body in her bed and slept with him for forty years. It is really tricky and surprising.
The ending may be unreasonable to some extent, but it really shows Faulkner’s creativity. He adopts the flashback to add much profound meaning to the short story, which is superior to the normal narrative way of the general fictions. Actually, many signs and symbols in the story indicate that the ending is like this. Emily is a cruel murderer, she kills her fiance. But it is necessary to clasp the essence through the appearance. In Emily’s age, men had absolutely power to control women. It can be believed that it is Emily’s father who indirectly destroys her whole life to some certain extent.
She is forced to kill her fiance to pursue her happiness. As the critics remark that “villain–hero in rational gothic fiction is murderer as well as victim. “(Pu Ruoqian, 2001: 47) The “villain–hero” is not the original crime. The real crime is the distorted humanity, which is formed by the hierarchy rule and moral standard. III. Conclusion All the gothic elements in A Rose for Emily present a perfect gothic fiction. However, Faulkner is not completely imitate the gothic tradition, he uses a clever method to perform a story of his own age.
He is fond of gothic style which is the main literary style in Victoria time, may be because he thinks the gothic style accords with the environment of decline of the south. Besides this, he fills with the realistic content and his own emotion to the gothic style. Gothic style once was regarded as “Black Romanticism”, but Faulkner combines it with realism. Furthermore, Faulkner pours the fierce emotion and fresh air into the old form, which makes A Rose for Emily superior to the gothic fiction and the literary main stream in Victoria time.
The background of A Rose for Emily is in the age when Faulkner lived, which is a new form and different from the gothic tradition, and apparently helpful to express the realistic meaning of the work. From what has been discussed, we know the gothic style was not popular in Faulkner’s time. However, A Rose for Emily exposes the real psychology of the southerner, and accepts some irrational aspects of human’s deep heart, which widens the extent of realism and the influence to human.
From this, A Rose for Emily can stand out from any other American fiction forms of the time. Faulkner benefits a lot from the gothic tradition, which he improves and thus is superior at the same time.