Short Story Analysis “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner


Miss Emily, the main character of Faulkner’s story “A Rose for Emily,” is a controversial figure who evokes rather mixed feelings, but pity prevails in this plethora of emotions. On the one hand, she is a mentally ill murderer who kept the body of her victim in her house for years. On the other hand, she is a victim of an oppressive father, family, and community. She had to live the life she was assigned to with no freedom and hardly any choice in the American South. She was seen as a thing, a “monument,” rather than a personality (Faulkner 1). Although she cannot be regarded as a sympathetic character, the reader cannot but feel sorry for her and her long but completely failed life.

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There can be no doubt that Miss Emily killed Homer Baron. She bought arsenic without indulging the druggist with sharing the purpose of this purchase as she “just stared at him… until he looked away and went and got the arsenic” (Faulkner 5). Soon after this visit, Homer Baron came to Miss Emily’s house, and no one saw him ever again. The lady committed that crime because she saw no other way to be with the man she wanted to exist. She was expected to marry a decent and wealthy man, but no one would fit in the town, at least, the entire community had such views. She wanted to be with a man with a bad reputation, but the community and her family did not let her do that. Miss Emily revealed the signs of insanity when her father died as she did not want him to be buried. The lady told everyone with decency that her father was alive, and, again, the community forced her to take the corresponding actions. The woman seems to be oppressed for her entire life.

The only happiness she had for decades was the time she spent with her beloved, who, in reality, was a decaying corpse. The grey hair found on the pillow shows that Mis Emily lay down beside diseased Homer, which is another evidence of her turbulent mental state. Therefore, pity is the major feeling the main character evokes. The title of the story can be read in many ways, and one of them is that her bridal room with rose curtains and rose-shaded lights was the only comfort, flower, for the oppressed woman. Her room was her rose she cherished and found valuable. At the same time, the author told the story to express his pity for all such females as if he gave a rose to each Emily living in the USA.


In conclusion, it is necessary to note that the short story shows the way women had to live in the first part of the twentieth century. A decent Southern lady was to follow the existing conventions and had no real freedom at all. Females responded to this situation differently, and one of the possible reactions was losing oneself and one’s sanity. Miss Emily responded that way, and her mental health was completely distorted by her father, her family, and the community. The title of the story has multiple meanings, but the central one behind it is very broad. The story is a tribute to all women who had to suffer from such oppression.

Work Cited

Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily.” n.d., 2020. Web.

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