About Life of Emily Grierson in a Rose for Emily
Throughout the story, Emily Grierson referred to as Miss Emily, is the main character of “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner. Miss Emily was born during the civil war to a proud, noble family. Her father raised her in a big well-decorated house complete with servants. The Grierson family considered themselves as more superior to the rest of the families in the town. Thus, her father had chased off many suitors for her daughter Emily who had rendered her unmarried at the age of 30 years. Moreover, due to her fathers’ attitude, Miss Emily had failed to develop a real relationship with anybody else in the town and her only relationship was with her father. In this paper, we analyze Emily Grisons character and the events that transpire to reveal her different traits. When her father died, the loss was too devastating for Miss Emily. The loss is too much for her to bare to an extent where “she told said that her father was not dead. She said that for three days, with the minister calling on her, and the doctors, trying to persuade her to let them dispose of the body,” (Faulkner 2). Here, we see that Miss Emily developed the Stockholm Syndrome because she refuses to believe that her father is dead even when she had her fathers’ body in her possession and the whole world around her telling her otherwise. For three days she resisted the idea that her father was dead and the same behavior is repeated later with the Homer Barron. Miss Emily is also subjected to societal stereotypes which held her back and partly influence her behavior.
The society holds traditional values and beliefs where women are seen as feeble and where their strength and protection come from their husbands. The only man in Miss Emily’s life was her father, and his death left her open to societal ridicule. If Miss Emily had lived in a modern society, the end of her abusive father would have been nothing more but an emblem of freedom. However, bound to the societal stereotypes, the only option available for her was marriage by hook or crook. The society is well determined to keep her indoors. Emily was born in a well-off family, and the society also believes that she should marry a nobleman. Thus, when she falls in love with a Northerner, Homer Barron, who happens to be in town because of a sidewalk-building project, the community is set to stop this from happening. They send for Emily’s cousin to come and stop the relationship. This sounds like a very troubling life because it gets worse when she is seen buying poison, and the townspeople assume that she is going to kill herself. Here, the narrator says, “So the next day we all said, she will kill herself; and we said it would be the best thing.” (Faulkner 4). By assuming that she’s up to suicide and doing nothing to prevent it, the society approves this thought. Emily is also portrayed as a deceitful and untrustworthy person, which is seen when Homer rejects her marriage proposal because he did not want to be overtaken by time and come to be a dull person. A person proposing to another is often a show of deep affection towards that person. However, after she is rejected, she poisons him. This gruesome side of Emily also gets worse when she decides to keep the dead body of Homer as if he was still alive.
She buys a bunch of men’s items including a shaving kit, nightshirt, and a suit all which are found after her death when townspeople break down the door to one of her rooms after her death where they find Homer Barron’s corpse. Societal sexism also allows Emily to literary get away with murder. Everyone seems to agree that there is a bad smell coming from Emily’s house. However, none of them, including the town’s authorities, are bold enough to confront her because she is a noble lady and accusing her of such an issue is unthinkable: “Dammit, sir,” Judge Stevens said, “will you accuse a lady to her face of smelling bad?” (Faulkner 2). Instead, they ‘gentlemanly’ sneak at night to sprinkle lime around her house to deal with the smell. An official search would have revealed the rotting body of Homer Barron and Emily would have been brought to book. They only discover the corpse years later after Emily’s death which literally allowed her to get away with murder. While most people take her for a sociopath or a homicidal maniac, the narrator claims that “we remembered all the young men her father had driven away, and we knew that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will” (Faulkner 2). Here, the narrator also gives her an innocent look by justifying why she didn’t want her father buried and why she killed Homer. The narrator implies that Emily held to on to her abusive father’s corpse because he took away every opportunity that would have brought her happiness. He also implies that Emily held on to her Homer’s body because she needed something to fill up the empty void. She was holding on to a relationship that never existed, or a past that never became part of the future.
She is also creepy because she sleeps right next to the corpse, “…noticed that in the second pillow was the indentation of a head and a long strand of gray hair…” (Faulkner, 3). The smell was so bad that some neighbors had to report and she slept right next to its source. Emily clearly had a problem letting go of the past, and this is exemplified in three scenes. First, she fails to release her father’s body for burial for three days where is caught up between the past and the present. Secondly, she is also unable to let go when Homer rejects her proposal. Here, we see that she decides to kill him and keep his corpse. Thirdly, she refuses to pay tax after the townspeople ask her to drop that tradition. However, the narrator ensures that the reader can see that her inner self-conflict causes her inability to let go. Conclusively, Emily is kept in isolation by both her father and the society which has also held her out of work and denied her the opportunity to marry. This endless suffering hardens her turning her into a psychopathic killer and a creepy character throughout the story.