Heather DozierDr ChuskaENG 102-I0216 June 2019Emily Grierson as a Victim in William Faulkner’s, A Rose for EmilyEmily Grierson in William Faulkner’s, A Rose for Emily is portrayed as a victim of family and society. Emily, the most important character, faces endless criticism from the neighborhood. She lives a life of loneliness. Her solitude is so pronounced that only a servant is allowed to access her home. Emily experiences psychological and emotional turmoil during her life. Despite of being born into a highly regarded family, the villagers do not admire the kind of life that Emily leads.
This essay argues that Emily’s society and family members contributed to her lonely and somewhat tragic life. Emily’s late father had significant influence on his daughter’s current state. According to the villagers, the Grierson family regarded themselves highly. According to the narrator, old lady Wyatt, her great- aunt, had gone completely crazy at last, believed that the Griersons held themselves a little too high for what they really were.
None of the young men were quite good enough for Miss Emily and such (Faulkner 227). Due to this reason, Emily’s father is said to have turned away numerous men who sought Emily’s hand in marriage resulting in her lack of a life partner. The villagers expressed their sympathy for Emily as they stated their absence of joy at Emily’s lack of a suitor after 30 years. The audience learns about the insanity that remained in the Grierson family as seen from her great aunt Wyatt.
Everyone in the town believed that Emily would turn out in the same way. However, they still doubted her difficulty to find a suitor despite the pre-existing conditions. In addition, the villagers appeared to be relatively pleased after the death of Emily’s father. They claimed that she happened to be humanized. This implied their perception that Emily and her family members led a relatively better life than other villagers did. Now that she was grieving the loss of her father, Emily would experience the pain that comes with a normal life and they pitied her. Earlier on, they could not extend their pity towards Emily, as the family remained intact despite the numerous criticisms from the people in the town. Being lonesome, Emily was viewed as more prone to devastating life experiences, an aspect that made the village people relieved. In fact, Emily’s devastation was visible as she continued to hold to her father’s corpse. It was normal for her to cling to her father’s corpse, as she had no one else with her. As a result, she broke down after putting up a strong facade for three days in a row. Emily Grierson is subjected to more pain following her father’s death when her supposed suitor abandoned her. After her father’s death she went out very little; after her sweetheart went away, people hardly saw her at all (Faulkner 226). The villagers expected Emily to get married to her sweetheart. Unfortunately, Emily’s darling abandoned her at a time when she would have needed a shoulder to lean on. The village people ignore the difficult period that Emily had gone through following the demise of the only family member. The people in the village also expected Emily to live according to their standards or ideas (Ye). Emily has been portrayed as a consistent character who barely changes to meet the villagers’ expectations. Throughout her life, the town people always criticized her for doing anything. The villagers were discontent with her as an individual and constantly rebuked her family members for the choices they made and the kind of life they led. In the case of Emily’s father, the villagers claimed that he had sent away too many men who would have married Emily. They also claimed that the Griersons thought too highly of themselves. After Emily started a relationship with Homer Barron, the village people began talking once again. Of course, a Grierson would not think seriously of a Northerner, a day laborer (Faulkner 227). The villagers once pitied Emily Grierson for being single at 30 years. Now that she had shown interest in Homer Barron, people in the village still attached the Grierson’s perceived social status to their relationship claiming its likely failure. Clearly, the people of the village lacked empathy over Emily’s misfortunes. During the time Emily was romantically involved with Homer Barron, the two frequently visited the city on Sundays. The village people did not waste any opportunity that presented to pity Emily in a sarcastic manner. The young and the old frequently used the term poor Emily. The narrator reveals to the audience the pressure that Emily received from the immediate society (Ye). William portrays Emily as a strong woman who is determined to weather the negativity that the village people were directing towards her (Heller). The town people continued to speculate the suitability of Emily’s death. This occurred after Emily bought arsenic, a poison that requires an explanation regarding its use. So the next day we all said, “She will kill herself”; and we said it would be the best thing (Faulkner 228). The village people continued to be little Emily in their conversations. They continue to narrate the negative conversations that they had been carrying on amongst themselves. we had said, “She will marry him.” Then we said, “She will persuade him yet,” Later we said, “Poor Emily” (Faulkner 228). The village women continued to gossip claiming the negative influence that the two had on the younger generation. They continued to involve the church leaders who visited Emily once. Later, Emily’s cousins were called upon to watch Emily. These events demonstrate the lack of respect for Emily’s life choices and private life (Ye). The people within the village meddled extensively seeking to change her to meet their acceptable standards, an aspect that failed to work.After her death, the whole town attended the burial. However, the attendance was not related to grief over the demise of Emily (Heller). The women sought to satisfy their curiosity concerning Emily’s house which none of the town people had visited for a decade. The men attended the funeral ceremony to honor Emily. The people amongst the town rushed towards Emily’s home following her demise to satisfy their curiosity. The negro met the first of the ladies at the front door and let them in, with their hushed, sibilant voices and their quick, curious glances, and then he disappeared. He walked right through the house and out the back and was not seen again (Faulkner 230). The enthusiasm that the women have as they enter Emily’s house is felt even in their activities once the door is opened. As the narrator explains, they passed curious glances once they were in the house. After Emily was laid to rest, they all rushed back to the house with Emily’s two cousins to unearth the secret held within a locked room. Ultimately, the narrator reveals Emily as a potential murderer. As the plot develops, the audience is introduced to a foul smell that was emanating from her home. The smell was reduced after lime was sprinkled on her lawn. The next section introduces Emily’s supposed partner, Homer Barron. Later, Emily purchased arsenic and the town people waited for her to end her life with the substance. When Homer Barron entered Emily’s home, the town people never saw him again. Finally, an unidentified male lay lifeless in the locked room. The narrator does not identify the man as Homer Barron. However, other elements such as the monogram on the tarnished silver leads the readers to believe it is in face Homer Barron. We learned that Miss Emily had been to the jeweler’s and ordered a man’s toilet set in silver, with the letters H. B. on each piece. Two days later we learned that she had bought a complete outfit of men’s clothing, including a nightshirt (Faulkner 229). All these items were found in the room after Emily’s burial. Based on the development of the plot, the reader can suppose that Emily bought the arsenic to kill Homer Barron. This must have been the reason for the foul smell emanating from the homestead. In conclusion, Emily Grierson in the short story, A Rose for Emily can be viewed as a victim of her community and family members. The father, Mr. Grierson was perceived as a determined individual since he turned away all the suitors who sought Emily’s hand in marriage. The town people used every opportunity that presented itself to criticize Emily’s life. They failed to show empathy when her father died and her darling who was expected to marry her, abandoned her. When Emily found another partner, Homer Barron, the town people referred to the Grierson’s social status as the reason for the relationship’s likelihood to fail. In fact, they claimed that her immorality warranted intervention from the Baptist minister. Her cousins were also invited to ensure that Emily was not acting immorally. Prior to this, they had sarcastically pitied Emily for being single at the age of 30 years. When Emily bought the poisonous substance, they waited for her to kill herself. When Emily passed on, the town people attended the burial out of curiosity and assumed that she had killed Homer Barron. The town people are depicted as meddlesome, hypocritical, curious, and people who lacked empathy and failed to respect Emily’s private life. Works CitedFaulkner, William. A Rose for Emily. y. Compact Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. 9th ed. Eds. Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R Mandell. Boston: Cengage, 2017. 226-230. Print.Heller, Terry. “The Telltale Hair: A Critical Study of William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily”.” Arizona Quarterly 28 (1972).Ye, Bei-bei. “Reasons of Emily’s Tragic Fate in A Rose for Emily.” Atlantis Press, 2015. 173-174.