A STRUCTURAL ANALYSIS OF WILLIAM FAULKNER “A ROSE FOR EMILY”
ARDIKA RIZKY SAPUTRI
A Rose for Emily is William Faulkner’s short story, which tells about the life of Ms. Emily, which is eccentric. This story is narrated through a third person’s point of view. It appears that the narrator is on the outside looking in, and giving his or her version of the life and events leading to the death of Emily. The combination of the past, Emily, and the future, the town or community is widely seen throughout the work. The story starts with Ms. Emily’s funeral. It states that “the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one save an old man servant, a combined gardener and cook had seen in at least ten years.” As we can see, Miss. Emily was sort of like a mystery to citizens of the town.
Miss Emily is a stubborn and sheltered woman who refuses, or perhaps cannot except that the world around her is changing. She lives in her father’s house in isolation with her Negro servant, Tobe seemingly unaffected by time. Miss Emily was raised by her father and was taught that she was of a higher class then the rest of the town. The Griersons, once a prestigious family name, becomes part of the past and no longer holds such resonance. She was continuously reminded that no man was good enough for her, which then led to a life without the love of another man besides her father. Once her father dies, she refuses to come to terms with his death and repeatedly claims that her father is still alive. When she alive, she had been a tradition, a duty and a care. She was dedicated as the figure of imperialism people in the southern American, who are land owner and rich people.
Life is sad and tragic; some of which is made for us and some of which we make ourselves. Emily had a hard life. Everything that she loved left her. Her father probably impressed upon her that every man she met was not good enough for her. The townspeople even talked about her when her father died and talked about how “The house was all that was left to her; and in a way, people were glad being left alone. She had become humanized”. This sounds as if her father’s death was sort of a relief for Emily. In a way it was, she could begin to date and date men of her choice and liking. Her father couldn’t chase them off any more. Now since the passing of her father unfortunately, for Emily she became home bound. She didn’t socialize much. Faulkner describes Emily and her family as a high social class. Emily did carry herself with dignity and people gave her that respect based on fear of what Emily could do to them.
In the unfolded plot summary, Emily Grierson, the protagonist, bears a miserable life with her father. Losing her chances of marriage (or her future life) is followed by the lost of her father (her past). She has nowhere and no one to connect with, and society ignores her. Losing her social role, she becomes isolated. She is left alone, when she is much in need of someone, at least a friend. Here comes a chance of friendship with a man form the lower class, but a lover at least, who seems to be gay in the eyes of other people, but acts promising toward Emily. Emily’s father probably would not be pleased with this affair with him. He is good-looking, a “big, dark, ready man, with a big voice and eyes lighter than his face”. She shouldn’t think of him seriously, but she does. When he wants to leave, Emily has nothing else to lose. She lives an eccentric life, kills the lover and lives with his corpse until she dies
This careful series of events, following each other, prepares us to the discovery of killing and her eccentric life. But it is not narrated chronologically, in order to keep the suspense and increase the tension about the ending; murder, and the gray hair near the corpse. Surprisingly, death of the protagonist, which may be the climax in another story, is presented first. The story is narrated from the perspective of people around Emily, the city, and older people of the city. That is why her death is not important; it is not the climax either. They respect her, or bear her as a duty, and are separated from her life.
The point of view never tries to understand Emily, but is intrusive about her strange life, her relations and her diversities. People act as passive strangers, looking just to amuse themselves, or find a subject to gossip about. A Rose for Emily is full in narration, and the duration of events is about a day, covering her death, funeral, and people’s visit to the house. But the narrative constantly goes back in the time and narrates what they, people in the city, remember of the past; it is through these flashbacks and memories that we can get the entire sad story of Emily. Time stretches about 10 years to cover this phase of Emily’s life. It jumps upon traumatic events of her life.
Perspective is cold, and objective. It never interferes in the events or has sympathy toward the protagonist. If there is a respect, it is due the social duty or tradition. There is almost no frequency of events in this short story, but there is an emphasis on the behaviors to show in many ways that she is apart from society. She is stubborn to be apart from the society, which was never helpful or never tried to understand her. She is an eyesore; they do not truly like her, neither does she. There is also emphasis on the marriage, to present Emily as a frustrated spinster in a traditional society, a key to make the ending acceptable.
The author continuously uses symbolism in the story. When the deputation came to her house for her taxes, Faulkner describes how the house and Ms. Emily looks. “only Miss Emily’s house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps-an eyesore among eyesores”, this statement explains how the house gives off such a depressing mood. “Her skeleton was small and spare”, this line shows us how her appearance showcases death also.
We can find much symbolism in this story. Miss Emily could not have survived so long as she did without the help of her servant, who grows old along with her, almost as if he were her visible black shadow, aging in public while she stays out of sight. After Emily’s death, the Negro met the first of the ladies at the front of the door and let them in, and walked right through the house and out the back and was not seen again. So, her Negro servant is commonly said as The Shadow of Miss Emily, who is followed Miss Emily in everywhere she gone.
Other symbolism is when Miss Emily said as Fallen Monument. She was remembered the people in aristocratic, nobility, dictator, and arrogant of southern people that follow the imperialism, and usually is land owner. The death of Miss Emily is like the fallen of monument -which is the aristocrat system that she followed- that symbolic the ruin of the aristocrat power in her period.
And the last symbol is Miss Emily’s necrophilia that becomes a symbol of the Old South. Miss Emily’s necrophilia is a metaphor of her refusal to change. For Emily, world is graceful, dignified, honorable-quaint and decayed, finally morbid. For Baron, world is vital, vulgar, and inevitable. But Miss Emily did not want to release Baron. She loves him very much and wants to do anything to get the love for Baron. When she realized Homer would leave again she made sure he would always be there by killing him. In his death Emily found eternal love which was something no one could every take from her. So, after the death of Baron, she always gets the corps closer to her and sleeps together in one bed to the Baron’s corps for years. Her denial of death as well as time due to her life of isolation and warped mental state is directly related to her upbringing and sheltered lifestyle from her father, who is the Old Southern.
We can find the lesson by Miss Emily denial of death, which is supposed the truth, the holding into her father death and then Homer Barron. It shows us how the people are always refused their real fate and problem which are denied. They act as if it doesn’t happen to forget the sadness, anger, and pain that will hurt them. Faulkner, by using necrophilia want to show how bitter the life is feel and what will we going to do to solve them.