The Fate of Emily Grierson in “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner

In his work “A Rose for Emily”, William Faulkner writes a picture of a highly structured society in which a young girl tries to find herself. Faced with her father’s inhibitions, stereotypes, and coldness, Emily longs for love and hopes for a happy family. Society and her father make claims about her high-class status and gender. It seems that Emily cannot get support from anyone and becomes a victim of her class status and gender, given to her by birth.

“A Rose for Emily” is a story about the daughter of a high-ranking and rich man who instills fear and respect in others. Emily lives in a system of strict orders structured by social classes. The community, in which she lives, was bound to respect her in the same way that people respect her father: “She was ever the goddess to most men” (Huang 204). People are afraid of her father, and even she is treated with some fear, which gnaws at her and makes her feel isolated from society.

Due to Mr. Grierson’s reputation in society, countless excuses are created for Miss Emily’s unusual and depraved behavior. Emily’s madness is exacerbated by her detainment, the failure of her father and Homer, and public ridicule. As a result, she is kept isolated from everything surrounding her. Moreover, the young woman and her father act as entitled to everyone because the father gives the city people a large amount of money. Grierson has an elevated opinion about himself for what he seems to be in the community. Emily’s mindset has established her to be a trapped and obstinate young woman.

Emily is determined to find a life partner, a person with whom she will be truly in love. Her dream is to create a family based on love. However, her father makes all the decisions for Emily, following the patriarchal guidelines. He has very high expectations for men, and Emily is forced to stay alone, not accompanied by anyone. In her inability to make decisions, Emily suffers from prejudice because of her gender. In circumstances where her father makes great demands on men, Emily is a victim of class status.

The scenario should have changed after the father’s passing, but it appears not to transform because of a confluence of class status. People think they must feel sorry for a woman in her thirties who has not yet married (Huang 202). Emily’s last chances to find a partner among many citizens are squandered due to her grief. Thus, the woman, who pretends to participate in the upper crust, cannot digest the public’s eagerness for the blissful shame, making her a casualty of her gender. Citizens believe that Emily, like every other woman, should get married and stop ruining her opportunities of getting a companion. Emily goes insane as a result of the townspeople’s critique. Therefore, she is a victim of both class status and gender difference, which has played an essential role in terrible tragedies in the narrative.

Given Faulkner’s concentration on Miss Emily, it is difficult to say whether female representatives of powerful families restrict this behavior or not. However, it is reasonable to argue that moral guardians closely watch women of all classes (Xiaokang 91). Compelling ladies to adhere to social norms, such as marriage, before 30 also hampers their efforts by applying excessive prerequisites. This can be socioeconomic standing, as in Miss Emily’s particular instance, or any other status. Nevertheless, the outcome can be the same since society feels sorry for women who have not met its standards, even though civilization has made it virtually impossible or too complicated for them to do so.

To my mind, Emily is a victim of her gender and social class, which ruins her life. She grows up next to a strict father, who believes that everything is allowed to him and that society is afraid of him. The life of rich people Emily becomes a constant public discussion and critique of her actions. It is on the principle of gender and social class that Emily is seriously condemned in society since she fails to have a serious relationship with a man. Public criticism does not disappear even with the death of her father since she inherited his social status, and Emily grew together with it. After all, the society of that time constantly discussed and criticized women who, in their opinion, did not correspond to a proper moral model.

Works Cited

Faulkner, William, et al. Collected Stories of William Faulkner. Random House Audio, 2007.

Huang, Yan. “An Analysis on a Rose for Emily”. Journal of Social Science Studies, vol. 6, no. 2, 2019, p. 202.

Xiaokang, Wang. “Narratological and Stylistic Analysis of Point of View in Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily”. English Language, Literature & Culture, vol. 6, no. 3, 2021, p. 91.

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