A Rose For Emily Essay Outline On Isolation

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Isolation and Emily Grierson: A Deadly Combination

William Faulkner, one of the most famed writers of our times, explores in his writing the themes of alienation and isolation. He interweaves these themes with his female characters. In A Rose for Emily, Miss Emily Grierson is a woman who is alienated and lives in isolation from the people in her town. The theme of isolation is the focal point of the story, since it is what drove her to her madness.
Faulkner"s theme of alienation comes up many times in his writing. In the book The Major Years, Melvin Backman states that Faulkner was reaching for a more decent life and more decent people in the midst of evil. He was reaching for love, innocence, simplicity, and strength, but he also knew that these things were being hidden by reality. "With Faulkner, as with all men, the personal condition underlay and shaped his view of the human condition" (Backman, p.183).
The critic goes on to note that men in Faulkner"s works tend to undermine women and their roles in society. Women are oppressed and are usually controlled by men. The women try to fight the men in their society and are trying to find a way to escape from their grasps. They are hesitant to stand up to the men and instead they tend to hide away. Backman notes that, "The will to confront reality seems to be losing out to the need to escape"(p.184).
Miss Emily is a woman who had the whole town wondering what she was doing, but did not allow anyone the pleasure of finding out. Once the men that she cared about in life deserted her, either by death or by simply leaving her, she hid out and did not allow anyone to get close to her. Miss Emily was indeed afraid to confront the reality that Backman discusses. Since she did not want to accept the fact that the people she cared about were gone, she hid in her house and did not go out. She was the perfect example of a woman alienated by a society controlled by men who make trouble for her instead of helping her.
Minrose Gwin, author of The Feminine and Faulkner, states that several of Faulkner"s female characters, including Emily Grierson, are "indeed active disruptive subjects in their narratives; theirs are voices which denounce and subvert male power"(Gwin, p.8). They do what they do , such as killing Homer Barron in Emily"s case, because they are tired of men telling them what to do.
Gwin further states that the patriarchal world creates its own images of women. Emily tried to challenge these images by not being what the men in her society would consider "normal." The men felt that all women should tend to their homes and be sociable, not locked up in a house with a manservant to clean it. They also felt that it was not right for a man to be doing that kind of work; it was a woman"s job to clean the house. " "Just as if a man—any man—could keep a kitchen properly," the ladies said; so they were not surprised when the smell developed. It was another link between the gross, teeming world and the high and mighty Griersons"(p.26).
Backman, paraphrasing Wright Morris in The Territory Ahead, says that flight and nostalgia are essential to American life, "The American flees the raw and uncongenial present for a mythic and desired past"(Backman, p.185). This perfectly summarizes Emily"s character because she is trying to leave the present and go back to a happier past. She is attempting to recapture her past because she needs to find the love she once knew. "After her father"s death she went out very little; after her sweetheart went away, people hardly saw her at all"(p. 26). Emily alienated herself from anyone when the two people that once loved her went away. She was afraid to grow close to anyone in fear of losing them again.
Emily was a headstrong woman that seemed frail and weak, but was instead very strong. She had the whole town convinced that she could not hurt a fly, but instead she was capable of the worst of crimes, murder.
"Faulkner"s works convey a deep sense of oppression and withdrawal, yet they convey too the struggle with self and society. In the midst of defeat and despair a small center of resistance resides"(Backman, p.186). Emily, in the middle of all the alienation and isolation she felt from the residents of her town, also found the resistance to show them she was not someone to be taken lightly.

Backman, Melvin. Faulkner: The Major Years, A Critical Study. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1966

Faulkner, William. "A Rose for Emily." Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Ed.
X.J. Kennedy. New York: Harpers Collins, 1991. Pp. 24-31

Gwin, Minrose c. The Femenine and Faulkner: Reading (Beyond) Sexual Difference. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1990

Morris, Wright. The Territory Ahead. The Macmillan Company, 1957.


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Theme of Isolation in William Faulkner's A Rose for Emily Essay

1048 Words5 Pages

The Theme of Isolation in A Rose for Emily

As an author establishes the characters he simultaneously attempts to develop the theme of the story. An author uses various elements such as point of view, the setting, and symbols to work toward the expression of one central idea. In looking at "A Rose for Emily." a short story by William Faulkner, it is evident that Faulkner successfully carries one main idea throughout the piece, the idea of being isolated from society.

One of the most effective elements that Faulkner uses in his development of this main idea is the use of imagery. He portrays the father of Emily as "a looming possessive figure, a figure of total control and dominance"(Gwin 31). Emily has no say about what goes on…show more content…

This reality sends panic and fear through her because now she has nowhere to turn and no one to tell her what to do, no one to command her life. Not only is she stricken with the loss of her father but now she is cut off to the outside world, because her only link has passed on. Emily immediately goes into a state of denial; to her, her father could not be dead, he was all that she had and she would not let him go.

"The day after his death all the ladies prepared to call at the house and offer their condolence and aid... Miss Emily met them at the door, dressed as usual and with no trace of grief on her face. She told them that her father was not dead. She did that for three days... Just as they were about to resort to law and force, she broke down, and they buried her father quickly" (Faulkner page #).

Without her father, she had no one to put any order in her life and wasn't going to let anyone else try. "We remembered all the young men her father had driven away, and knew with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which robbed her, as people will" (Faulkner page #).

Another symbol Faulkner unobtrusively introduces is the crayon portrait of Emily's father looking down at her during the funeral. Throughout her whole life and even now in death her father had been and always would be there, watching, judging and influencing her life, knowing she had been daddy's little girl to the end. Taking some perverse pleasure in

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