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A Rose for Emily

A discussion about the Southern Gothic themes of literature that are prevalent to A Rose of Emily by William Falkner.
by

Rachel Shifflet

on 19 May 2011

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Transcript of A Rose for Emily

Southern Gothic Literature Definition Grotesque Imprisonment Villian-Hero Gothic is a form of literature that uses the disturbing nature of humanity to create mood of terror and suspense, but Southern Gothic relies on the macabre matter of the subject not to create fear, but instead to delve into the social and cultural issues of the American South A character that possesses enough heroic characteristics so that the reader sees the "villain" as more than just the "bad guy" The Good The Bad The Ugly Southern customs make the townspeople feel sympathy for Emily and thus so do the readers Boo Radley: he too got sympathy from Scout "She was sick for a long time. When we saw her again, her hair was cut short, making her look like a girl, with a vague resemblance to those angels in colored church windows--sort of tragic and serene." (Faulkner 81). Physical Appearance: Grotesque Anti-social behavior
Outcast Acts against the code of conduct and feels above the law Doesn't pay taxes Doesn't interact with society "Miss Emily just stared at him...until he looked away and went and got the arsenic and wrapped it up" (Faulkner 82). Grew out of Reconstruction destroys the archetypes of antebellum Southern literature Faulkner transforms the typical "damsel in distress" into Emily--a psychologically damaged person who suffers from necrophilia Necrophilia sexual attraction to human corpses Necrosadism a lover decides to murder her partner and keeps the corpse as a reminder that the deceased will never escape portrays a set of deeply flawed characters in a decayed and often claustrophobic setting, or sinister events that are often linked to racism, poverty, violence, lack of social conformity highlights the unpleasant aspects of Southern culture a central character who is set apart from the world and society in a negative way because of their disturbing nature or actions an exaggerated personality trait or characteristic can be used for the purpose of eliciting both empathy and disgust in the reader “She looked bloated, like a body long submerged under water, and of that pallid hue. Her eyes, lost in the fatty ridges of her face, looked like to small pieces of coal pressed into lump of dough as they moved from one face to another while the visitors stated their errand” (Faulkner 80). Literal figurative & Self-imprisonment "The front door closed upon the last one (china-painter) and remained closed for good...daily, monthly, and yearly we watched the Negro...going in and out with the market basket" (Faulkner 83). imprisoned by love lost "After her father's death she went out very little; after her sweetheart went away, people hardly saw her at all" (Faulkner 80). “It was a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies…lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps-an eyesore among eyesores” (Faulkner 79). “They were admitted by the old Negro into a dim hall from which a stairway mounted into still more shadow. It smelled of dust and disuse--a close, dank smell. The Negro led them into the parlor. It was furnished in heavy, leather-covered furniture. When the Negro opened the blinds of one window, they could see that the leather was cracked…on a tarnished gilt easel before the fireplace stood a crayon portrait of Miss Emily's father” (Faulkner 79). “…she entered--a small, fat woman in black, with a thin gold chain descending to her waist and vanishing into her belt, leaning on an ebony cane with a tarnished gold head…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…” (Faulkner 79-80). “When she opened the package at home there was written on the box, under the skull and bones: "For rats"” (Faulkner 82). Significance use of the grotesque reflects the absurdity of the South the end of the story, after Emily’s death and the opening of the house allowing the light to enter is a metaphor for the old south dying and the new generation attempting to modernize their world “…this room decked and furnished as for a bridal: upon the valance curtains of faded rose color…upon the delicate array of crystal and the man's toilet things backed with tarnished silver…among them lay a collar and tie, as if they had just been removed... upon a chair hung the suit, carefully folded; beneath it the two mute shoes…the man himself lay in the bed.
…The body had apparently once lain in the attitude of an embrace, but now the long sleep that outlasts love, that conquers even the grimace of love, had cuckolded him…
Then we noticed that in the second pillow was the indentation of a head…we saw a long strand of iron-gray hair” (Faulkner 84).
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