Symbolism and Theme in William Faulkners A Rose for Emily - Research Paper Example

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William Faulkner is today recognized as one of the foremost American writers of the 20th century. Faulkner is generally recognized for his articulation of southern daily life, as well as his experimental approach to literature…
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Symbolism and Theme in William Faulkners A Rose for Emily
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Download file to see previous pages While containing southern gothic tendencies, the story is characteristic of Faulkner’s style in terms of theme and symbolism. This essay considers these symbolic and thematic elements in terms of Faulkner’s ‘A Rose for Emily’. Perhaps the most pervasive theme in ‘A Rose for Emily’ is the power and exploration of death. This is perhaps one of the most important elements in articulating the story as an element of southern gothic literature, and it gives the tale a sort of surreal touch. Faulkner begins the narrative in reverse, already stating that Emily Grierson, the main focus of the story is deceased. Faulkner writes, “When Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to the funeral” (Faulkner, web). While this is only a narrative element, it’s position as the first sentence of the story is notable as it sets the general thematic tone for the tale. While Emily’s death represents perhaps the most significant, it is only one among many deaths in the story. In addition to Emily’s death the story also indicates that Emily’s father died. Faulkner advances the thematic power of death in this instance by demonstrating that it extremely impacted Emily’s existence. Faulkner writes, “When her father died, it got about that the house was all that was left to her; and in a way, people were glad. At last they could pity Miss Emily. Being left alone, and a pauper, she had become humanized” (Faulkner, web). Here, Faulkner is demonstrating that with Emily’s father’s death she began to live a solitary and confined existence. Emily’s reaction to her father’s death, namely the denial she faces, also demonstrates the thematic concern with the power of death. While actual death is a prominent theme, Faulkner also implements death imagery in advancing this theme; for instance, referring to Emily Faulkner writes, “Her skeleton was small and spare” (Faulkner, web). Here it’s clear that a gothic and macabre theme is being articulated. Another major thematic concern of the story is the nature of tradition vs. change. As Faulkner relays the story in a narrative that jumps a number of years, the structure presents particular insight into the nature of change and tradition. While tradition vs. change is articulated through a number of elements in the story, it is perhaps seen most clearly in terms of Emily herself. Faulkner even writes, “Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town” (Faulkner, web). While the story explores Emily’s life from a number of periods, she is always articulated as a sort of traditional aspect of the town, a sort of portal into the past. Even as Emily’s funeral occurs at the end of the story Faulkner links her to the older members of the community. He writes that they linked their lives in with Emily’s, “?'...confusing time with its mathematical progression, as the old do, to whom all the past is not a diminishing road, but, instead, a huge meadow which no winter ever quite touches, divided from them now by the narrow bottleneck of the most recent decade of years” (Faulkner, web). While this is a masterful piece of writing, it also demonstrates Faulkner’s thematic linking with the traditional order. Faulkner explores the clash of the traditional and modern world perhaps most acutely when the city attempts to gain taxes from Emily. Emily had ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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