The Significance of Symbolism in "A Rose for Emily"

Length: 2 Pages 610 Words

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 he Continue...


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She is held in high regard, like a symbol of their heritage, but was not given care or affection. Her voice is "dry and cold (Faulkner 432) as if it is as unused as her house. After the newer generation becomes "the backbone and spirit of the town (Faulkner 436), Emily closes her front door for good, locking herself in the past. These descriptions emphasize the way beauty and grace can decline without care and love. More tarnished items are found but this time it is Homer's silver toilet set Emily had bought for him. She refuses to believe that the times and society are changing, just as she refused to believe her father was dead even after three days. rself is described as a "fallen monument (Faulkner 431), suggesting that she has let herself go over the years. He represents the fast moving, freewheeling twentieth century. She is beautiful in her younger days but as she grows older she becomes ugly and bloated. The Old South is epitomized in Emily Grierson and her mannerisms. In the film version Emily is wearing a yellow dress when they go out riding. "A Rose for Emily represents the decline of the Old South and the uprise of the new. Everyth!ing in the room is covered with dust, a symbol of death and perhaps Emily's life after Homer as well. ------------------------------------------------------------------------Bibliography. She refuses to pay taxes or let the post office attach numbers and a mailbox to her door.