Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 6

Kyle Gibson

Mrs. Pettay

ENG 112

4 May 2017

Inside the Mind of Emily Grierson

It was once said by Friedrich Nietzsche that, Sometimes it is harder to accede to a thing

than it is to see its truth. This conception became a reality for Miss Emily Grierson in William

Faulkners short story A Rose for Emily. It wasnt just the fact that Miss Emily personally

denied her complete reliance on the men she loved, which was shown clearly by her

unwillingness to let go of her father and her lover after their untimely deaths, but the failure of

the townspeople to grasp the legitimate problem at hand.

Emilys lifelong denial began immediately after the death of her father who was a

monarch to her, but a mystery to the rest of the town. Mr. Griersons dominance over Emily is

clearly symbolized early in the text when it describes the framed painting located in the Grierson

home with, his back to her and clutching a horsewhip. The purpose behind Faulkner

mentioning this small detail is to emphasize the importance of Mr. Grierson being completely

dominant in the household. In fact, Judith Fetterly, a critic on American Literature and its

disenfranchisement on women, notes that there is a massive differentiation of everything

according to sex in this story and that the relationship between men and women is murderously

incompatible, and in many ways she is correct (as quoted in Howard 534-552).
There is a clear divide between the judgmental townsfolk and the Grierson family

throughout the entire story. It is shown that the male dominated society also frowns upon Miss

Emilys alienated family as they are seen as both arrogant and stuck-up. Though there is no

differentiated perspective, especially that of the Grierson family or Emily herself, so one is left to

question the motives behind the generational judgement of the Grierson family. First, Emilys

actions spoke louder than the words of the townsfolk. Emily was adept at keeping her life a

guessing game for the people of Jefferson, but she had an especially hard time being left alone in

her personal affairs. The introduction of Homer Baron is a clear representation of her personal

life being displayed on all fronts to Jefferson, and after the introduction of her newely-found

lover, some of townspeople even believe that, a Grierson would not think seriously of a

Northerner, a day laborer. With that being said, and following the oddly-timed purchase of

arsenic, Miss Emily still remained under the radar until the time of her death. Therefore, one can

only assume the relationship that ensued between Homer Baron and Miss Emily herself.

Following the transaction between Emily and the local druggist, which was a highly

publicized interaction, things began to change for Emily and her relationship with Homer Baron.

According to the text, the townspeople had believed that Emily and Baron were to be married

anytime in the near future, but failed to recognize the root problem that had been haunting Emily

since the death of her father. The absence of a strong male presence is what drove Emily to

commit the unthinkable acts to Homer Baron after having, what appeared to be, a healthy

relationship. It is even described in the text that Emily purchased a toiletry set, as well as a

complete outfit, for Homer Baron during the time that they were publicly together. Now, one
may see these acts and believe that Emily had a true connection to Homer, and she may have had

one for quite some time early on, but it was not in her best interest to love a man, especially one

that lacked the strong presence that her father had.

There is evidence that Emily had a problem that rooted much deeper than the apparent

assumptions of the townspeople or, in this case, the narration of the town. Her predictableness

allowed for an abundance of rumors and a multitude of unbacked perspective, but not once was

Emily analyzed directly by anyone, other than the encounter between the Board of Aldermen and

her tax notices. Emilys lifelong events, especially those that occurred early in her life, had

raised the question of her sanity, but not enough for the voice of the story to directly state so.

Early in the text it explains that there had been a history of insanity in the Grierson family,

followed by the question reappearing by the narrator after her refusal to have her father buried,

which leaves room for question. Was Emilys refusal to let go of her father a mental issue or a

dependency issue? It is clear through Emilys actions that her handling of death in this story, to

both her father and Homer Baron, was an issue she could not cope with accordingly. Although

denial can play a major role in the loss of a loved one, Emilys experience was far more different

than the traditional death.

Because Emily not only held her deceased father in the house up to three days after his

death while refusing to give his body up to authorities, she also did the same with Homer, but for

a much larger extended period of time. It is because no one asked Emily where her lover had

gone after his disappearance, assuming that he had left her in the dead of night, that she was able

to keep him there far after his murder. Not only that, but Emilys mental state was far too

unpredictable in the time that she and Homer Baron were together as a couple, so there was no
way of knowing that a murder had actually occurred. In a strange way, there was almost no

accountability for Miss Emily being that she was a total stranger to the rest of the community,

and her only known life was what was observed from the townspeople and the subsequent

rumors. This system of assumptions allowed for Emily, and the Grierson family for that matter,

to remain a shrouded mystery to Jefferson whilst staying under the radar in their personal

affairs, despite what most of the townsfolk thought they knew.

In A Rose for Emily, there is a systematic trend of generational resentment to the

Grierson family, partially due to the changing of times and the tax issue, and a lack of empathy

for Emily specifically. As a result of her fathers controlling upbringing, equated with the lack of

a maternal role in her life, Emily Grierson not only faced every aspect of her life with a

subconscious dependency for men, more specifically her father, but also remained in a state of

permanent loyalty to her father. These conditions can be seen clearly in every actual action taken

by Emily. First, her complete denial of taxes closely aligns with her fathers word and no one

elses. Secondly, her short-lived relationship with Homer Baron was a result of her childlike

behavior to be occupied by the presence of a man, although he wasnt what she needed

apparently. And lastly, Emily was able to commit murder while keeping the body of her ex-lover

within the same house for decades after his death. This closely resembles the relationship she

had with her dead father and how she kept him in the same house for three days before giving

him up, except this time, he stayed there until Emilys death many years later.

These acts committed by Emily were results of her life experiences which were both that

of loneliness and dependency. Being that Emily had the house all to herself, besides the presence

of her manservant, she experienced years of loneliness after her fathers death. Also, because of
her highly apparent close relationship to her father, Emily was especially vulnerable to being

alone, which was exactly what the townspeople had wanted for a Grierson. Additionally, Emily

had a lifelong connection to her father, which was rooted deeply in her isolated upbringing with

him, and had no other realization with the outside world in her youth. With all of these factors

considered, the life of Emily Grierson resembled that in which the narrator fails to recognize,

which is that Miss Emily was in fact a highly dependent and fragile person.

Works Cited
Howard, Judith A. The Gendered Context of Reading. Gender and Society, vol. 4, no. 4, 1Dec. 1990, pp. 534

552. JSTOR. www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/189752?ref=search-

gateway:9f24374151783f7ad07257d43487d2b7. Accessed 4 May 2017.