The Significance of Symbolism in "A Rose for Emily"

             In “A Rose for Emily”, William Faulkner effectively uses symbolism to illustrate the fading glory of the Old South giving away to the progress of Reconstruction and the new century. It also plays a role in understanding the whole meaning of the story and why Emily is a tragic figure as opposed to an evil person. Faulkner’s ability to incorporate symbolism meaningfully into his stories is a testament to his fine Southern Gothic writing.
             Emily is compared to her house in many ways throughout the story. The house is slowly deteriorating over the years, such as Emily’s mental state. Her house is on what used to be the “select street” (Faulkner 431) but commercial buildings have taken over the neighborhood so now “only Miss Emily’s house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps-an eyesore among eyesores” (Faulkner 432). Emily herself is described as a “fallen monument” (Faulkner 431), suggesting that she has let herself go over the years. She is beautiful in her younger days but as she grows older she becomes ugly and bloated. Her voice is “dry and cold” (Faulkner 432) as if it is as unused as her house. These descriptions emphasize the way beauty and grace can decline without care and love.
             Emily’s relationship with Northerner Homer Barron and her reputation thereafter are also symbolized in the story. In the beginning of her relationship with Homer, the color yellow is prominent, from the yellow-wheeled buggy to Homer’s yellow glove. In the film version Emily is wearing a yellow dress when they go out riding. Yellow is meant to symbolize Emily’s hope that love and happiness has finally come to her and she can accept it since her overbearing father is deceased. After Homer has gone, Emily’s reputation is tarnished, like the gilt easel in her living room and the gold head of her ebony cane. Once the door to the locked room is opened, “a thin...

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