Symbolism in The Chrysanthemums and A Rose for Emily Essay
Symbolism in The Chrysanthemums and A Rose for Emily
The essay provides a critical analysis of the two short stories, ‘A Rose for Emily’ and ‘The Chrysanthemums’ proving the summary the plot, the symbolism and the setting displayed in the stories by the authors. The story titled ‘The Chrysanthemums’ was written by John Steinbeck and revolves around the main character of Elise who is a married female, more suited to be a man than a women. She is more like a man in her appearance, her dressing as well as her mannerisms.
She has been brought up in a world which is male dominated and in order to retain her self and her personality, which is much more aggressive and hardy in nature, she tends to hide her feelings behind a faced. Her relationship with her husband is cordial, in fact even formal. The story however goes on to reveal that she The point of view of the story is put in perspective of the third person. Neither of the lead characters of the story has been depicted as recalling or narrating the story , instead it is based as a narration of events form the point of view of a third person who is looking into the lives of Elisa and Henry.
The author uses symbolism to support his story and make it more comprehendible. The character of Elisa is shown to be boyish as the author writes that Elisa wears a “a man’s black hat pulled low down over her eyes, clodhopper shoes, a figured print dress almost completely covered by a big corduroy apron…” (‘The Chrysanthemums’, Steinbeck). This depicts that Elisa longs to have the opportunity to be free and authoritative like a man in her society. Aside form this symbolism is also used by the author in the title which pertains to Chrysanthemums.
Chrysanthemums are flowers which need a specific amount of daylight to nurture and a specific amount time of the night to bloom. Elisa is depicted by the author in the same symbolist method where she is feminine, but takes the mannish approach to live in order to create a space for her. The setting of the story is in the Valley of Salinas which is also a plot for many of the authors other early publications. The area of the valley is described as having small towns and farms and which mostly deals in economic activity pertaining to the agriculture sector.
In this setting the lead character is put on a ranch as the wife of a rancher. The setting of the story sets the mood of the story and unravels the theme pertaining to the opportunities and the limitations present to women in those times nd how they longed to be free and nomadic to discover the world. The story titled ‘The Chrysanthemums’ begins with a cliched scene where the female lead is in the garden tending to the plants while the husband of the female is off trading and selling livestock to earn money.
However the mannerisms, as well as the approach taken by Elise, the lead character, towards life are very male oriented. She lives in a male dominated society and as a result has created a specific place for herself in it where she can be herself. The critical analysis of the story and the writing style depicts that the author has provided a description of how a female can have male as well as female personalities which are dynamic and changeable.
Upon deeper inspection the story has strong notes of feminism in the central character Elisa Allen. Elisa’s actions and feelings reflect her struggle as a woman trying and failing to emasculate herself in a male dominated society. Elisa is at her strongest and most proud in the garden and becomes weak when placed in feminine positions such as going out to dinner with her husband. Steinbeck carefully narrates this woman’s frequent shifts between femininity and masculinity over a short period of time. (‘First 1100 characters of Feminism in John Steinbeck’s The Chrysanthemums’)
The other piece of literature being discussed pertains to ‘A Rose for Emily’ which is a story by William Faulkner which describes the life of a woman after the death of her family and the dissertation of her friends. The story is about a female named Emily whose father dies of natural causes and she is left with little money except her house and an African American manservant. The Manservant is a loyal person who stays by Emily’s side till her own death.
The story itself however is centered on the event of Emily’s funeral where the neighbors and blood relations have come out of curiosity as well as to pay their respect. The story as a result is depicted from their point of view about the lady Emily. It recounts her life as she lived it from an external perspective. The end of the story however reveals her beau to be dead for some years, possibly murdered by Emily herself. The story is written very explicitly form the point of view of the neighbors of the main character.
Emily is kept to be mysterious figure with information about her life and personality being revealed and relayed to by her neighbors and blood relations at her funeral. The point of view is explicitly external to the main character as the opinion about Emily keeps changing in the story based on the recollection of events by the neighbors and the final ending which is revealed with Mr. Homer being dead for sometime and obviously taken care of in death by Emily. The point of view is also apparent form the phrases like ‘poor Emily’ which are used by the neighbors to describe Emily and her life.
The author of the story has used ample metaphoric and symbolist phrases to relay on the story. This has created a real time picture about the circumstances surrounding Emily’s death and the state that she lived her life in after her fathers demise. / the writer has used phrases like “It smelled of dust and disuse–a close, dank smell. ” (‘A Rose for Emily’, Faulkner) to describe Emily which conjures a very realistic and accurate image of Emily and her appearance which otherwise would have been difficult to comprehend.
The description continues on to say that “Her skeleton was small and spare” and “She looked bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water, and of that pallid hue. Her eyes, lost in the fatty ridges of her face, looked like two small pieces of coal pressed into a lump of dough as they moved from one face to another while the visitors stated their errand. ” (‘A Rose for Emily’, Faulkner) This description clearly illustrates how Emily was very depressed, so much so that it showed in the neglect that she has left her appearance and her house to.
The house which was the abode of Emily has also been described in a manner that it symbolized depression and death. Aside from this the author has also use the element of rose in the title to represent love, respect and death which make the theme of the story. This is justified by the fact that Ms. Emily was loved by many men in the town but all of them were forcefully rejected by her father. However on the day of her funeral they all paid their respects by bringing her roses to indicate their love for her while the simple connotation of the rose on the event also indicated death.
The setting of the story is in the period of 1890s when the civil war was still fresh in the minds of the people and the aspect of black slavery and unequal rights for colored people were still prominent in the opinions of people depicted in the book. This is clearly evident by the adjectives and named used by the author to introduce and depict the presence of Ms. Emily’s manservant who was of African American origin. The criticism on the story however is, that the story is more gothic than it appears.
This Is mostly due to the fact that the story is based around an old and traditional environment where the mysterious behavior by Emily is depicted as horrific and unexpected in nature Aside from this the style of the houses and the opinions harbored by people also clearly indicate a very conservative society which is not appreciative of the differences of people. The story itself on the other hand is written in a very haphazard and disorganized manner by the author. This makes it a bit confusing to comprehend however on the whole it has a strong impact, specifically the ending of the story.