Gossip in A Rose For Emily

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A rose for Emily is a quick story written by William Faulkner and published in 1931. This story is gothic containing elements of horror and Romanticism. The story entails Emily, an old woman who is a daughter of a rich man and the town’s hero. The father to Emily used to be overprotective to her, and when he dies, she keeps her father’s body in the house. Emily later falls in love with Homer, and she kills him after finding out that he was once going to leave her. This creates a stench in the neighborhood and the town gossips about Emily’s movements after realizing that she had hidden the two bodies in the house. As such, Emily struggles with the loss of her father and the rejection of Homer, and here, the emotional pain negatively impacts on her actions making her be the center of the town’s gossip.


Character and the fear to change is a criticism in the story. The death of Emily’s father profoundly affects her, and she does not want to accept the reality. Faulkner writes “She told them that her father was not dead” (Faulkner 4). This indicates the love that Emily had for her father and that she could not believe that he was dead. In attempts to fill the gap left by her father, she falls in love with Homer. Emily wanted Homer to replace the love of her father, and she became sad of losing another person she loved (Magill 11). The failure to adapt changes made her “Sick for a long time. When we saw her again, her hair was cut short, making her look like a girl” (Faulkner 4). The quote indicates the way Emily could not endure the pain of death and this made her suffer.

A fundamental criticism arises from the underlying message that is embedded in the usage of symbolism. Faulkner uses the symbol, to foreshadow the events and interpret Emily’s next moves (Detroit 6). The book says “‘I want arsenic.’ ‘Why of course,’ the druggist said. ‘If that’s what you want. But the law requires you to tell what you are going to use it for.’ ‘For rats.’” (Faulkner 5). This suggestions to the reader that somebody is going to be killed. It foreshadows death, and it is later revealed that it was Homer. Another case is seen when Faulkner writes, “A neighbor saw the Negro man admit him at the kitchen door at dusk one evening. And that was the last we saw of Homer Barron” (6). This shows Homer's disappearance when he dies.

Male superiority is a theme that is critically stressed in this story. Women were seen to be inferior, and the stereotypes only worked towards dehumanizing the female gender. Faulkner says “When Miss Emily Greisen died, our whole town went to her funeral: Men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house.” (Faulkner 1). Indeed, |this is one of the numerous passages in the story indicating how Faulkner shows men were superior to women during that time. Here, the men went to see the hero they thought Emily was while the women only went to view the house. This vividly indicates that these women were interested in being housewives.


The death of a loved one usually result in sadness, and many people fail to adapt to the drastic changes. Emily is significantly affected by the death of her father. Character criticism analyzed the fear of change after death while symbolism criticism assists to foreshadow the actions of Emily. Also, a critical view of the theme showcases the male superiority in a society that is male-dominated. To the reader, the rose that is given to Emily communicates that changes are inevitable and every person should adapt to changes for life to go on.

Works Cited

Detroit, Mich. Short Story Criticism. Gale Research Inc. 1991.

Faulkner William. A Rose for Emily. Library of America. 1930.

Magill, Frank N. Critical survey of short fiction. Pasadena, Calif. Salem Press, 1993.

January 20, 2022



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