Comparison of A Rose for Emily to Post Civil War - Literary Analysis Essay

Published: 2021-06-30
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Harvey Mudd College
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Research paper
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There is no denying that A Rose for Emily is a novel about extremes of isolation, both emotional and physical. The classic demonstrates the process through which humans get isolated by their traditions, by law, by their past, by their choices, their actions, their community and by their families. In effect, the narrative takes a vivid stand against such forms of isolation and against the perpetrators and factors that lead to such isolations. The narrative portrays breath-taking experiences, and one would wish to have a stroll and have the feel of sunshine or breathe fresh air altogether. This task sets out to review a comparison between A Rose for Emily and relating the events to the Post-Civil War America. Through this, the book will capture the historical context of the novel and how the Faulkner uses the South after the Civil War in conveying his narrative. A Rose for Emily is a literary piece by William Falkner, which perhaps, is the most anthologized and famous short story ever written. The story is not only entertaining but also captivating, largely because of its use of literary techniques like complex structure that is characterized by compelling characterization and a well-thought out plot. Through the utilization of these techniques, the author has been able to authoritatively make use of symbolism, moral worth, and contrasts. Though short, the story covers the entire seventy-five years of Emily. The events in the narrative not only speaks of the womans impressive and shocking story but also depicts the life of the southerners after the Civil War. The character of Emily becomes the canvass in the narrative to paint the traditions and customs of the Old South also known as the antebellum era (Faulkner, 1958).

Miss Emily is an embodiment of the living post the Civil War, having born around the time of the war. In her, the author can bridge the years which are shortly after and before the war, and this symbolizes the values of the Older South plus its resistance to dynamics and changes that followed the war. The novel presents the Griersons as being a very prominent and well-to-do family in the antebellum in the past years, and like the many known wealthy Southerner, their fortunes has dwindled following their submission and surrender (Faulkner, 1958).

Emily totally refuses, just like the other members of the pre-war Southern Aristocracy, to accept their fate and live with the fact that their status had been reduced. Events, however, overtake this since the new generation sets in with new and modern ideas, a fact that makes them the driving force in the South forcing Emily to become a relic of the living past. This was a clear manifestation that Emily was a product of the past and only lived her life based on how she grew up and the environment, that of a person born of privileges. The author portrays her as dating a Yankee, a clear demonstration that she had no marital opportunities, and not because she had better knowledge of dallying with Mississippi's old guards. She even goes farther to court him unescorted, especially on Sundays because she felt that she was still higher than she was (Faulkner, 1958).

Before the Civil War broke in the US, the antebellum South, the economy of the South relied heavily on the output from agricultural plantations. These plantation farms were owned by the rich Southern whites who did well to tap into the potential of the African American slave labor so as to cut down on the operational costs. Naturally, the plantation life in the South led to an increased rigid social hierarchy (Kaufmann, 2007). That is to say, the kind of life here was characterized by the wealthy white farmers treating being treated like aristocrats and the middle and lower or poor whites being treated like commoners. The blacks, on the other hand, were treated like trash and property. Along with the hierarchy forged as a result of this social order, the plantation life also gave rise to the aristocratic culture that held with high regard, the highly chivalric ideals that include honor, social propriety, courage, honor, readiness to up-bring the weak and the aspect of female virginity (Qun, 2007).

The narration notes the events that characterized Mississippi in the latter stages of the nineteenth century as well as the onset of the twentieth century. These events encompassed a series of struggles that they had to endure through their slow process of progression rebuilding. The narration exclusively targets the southern scene where civil war had left indelible marks that have lasted for several years running (Kaufmann, 2007).

Emily disregards murder with little zeal, not as she would, taxes. In her own conviction, she saw herself as being above the law as well as other social norms that the public would observe and abide by. Just like the old aristocrats, she saw herself through a mix of generations and presents a clear case of a pervert, impervious and inescapable past. She thinks that by admitting to the death of the father, everything to do with her social standing goes into oblivion (Faulkner, 1958).

Through the mysterious nature of Emily Grierson, Faulkner attempts to relay the struggles Emily endures. The narrator represents the entire town. In her recall, she notes that when Emily died, all the people of the town in the southern end came to her funeral, to witness the send off where Emily would meet the other respected departed souls. In a show of reverence, Emily and other respected dead were laid to rest in the cemetery used to bury the dead soldiers who perished in the American Civil War. The house of Emily is seen as a monument and denotes the only remaining emblem of the surviving world of aristocracy in the South. Emilys house also signifies alienation, death, and mental madness. It serves as a shrine to the living past (Van Tassel, Emily Field, 1994).

The primary symbolism of the narrative is the thought of how important it is to live in the present and forget the past. Emily is depicted to have clung in the past and does not foresee ever being independent. The Old South is transforming to the New South, but she doesnt seem to move forward. The people of the South refused to proceed with the new order because they had apparently lost the Civil War. Time appears to move fast-forward, leaving the lady behind. Symbolism, as used in the story, demonstrates how Emily was innocent at her earlier age and later turned out to be a changed person. Her physical appearance as shown by her hairstyle, lifestyle, and house only help her to defy the norms and resist change.

Works Cited

Faulkner, William. A rose for Emily. Publisher not identified, 1958.

Kaufmann, Chaim. "Possible and impossible solutions to ethnic civil wars." International Security 20.4 (1996): 136-175.

Qun, X. I. E. "Analysis of the Changing Portraits in" A Rose for Emily"/ANALYSE DU PORTRAIT CHANGEANT DANS L'UNE ROSE POUR EMILY." Canadian Social Science 3.2 (2007): 66.

Van Tassel, Emily Field. "Only the law would rule between us: Antimiscegenation, the moral economy of dependency, and the debate over rights after the civil war." Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 70 (1994): 873.


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