1 Gazuru

A Rose For Emily Insanity Essay

William Faulkner's Southern Gothic masterpiece, "A Rose for Emily," is disordered in time, perhaps as a reflection of the disorder in particular characters' minds.

The titular character, Miss Emily Grierson, suffers from a disorder of time. That is, she suffers from a mad hold on the past. For example, she is firmly convinced that Colonel Sartoris, who was once the mayor of the town, has provided for "a dispensation dating from the death of her father on into perpetuity." In other words, Miss Emily believes that she never has to pay taxes because Colonel Sartoris made arrangements that the Griersons were exempt from paying taxes. But when the "next generation" in town becomes aldermen and mayor, they know nothing of such an arrangement. Nevertheless, when a deputation visits her, Miss Emily insists,

"I have no taxes in Jefferson.... Perhaps one of you can gain access to the city records and satisfy yourselves."
"But we have. We are the city authorities, Miss Emily. Didn't you get a notice from the sheriff signed by him?"
"See Colonel Sartoris. I have no taxes in Jefferson."
"But, Miss Emily—"
"See Colonel Sartoris."

Colonel Sartoris, however, has been dead about ten years.

Of course, the strongest example of madness in Emily Grierson is revealed at the end of Faulkner's story. After Miss Emily's death in a room downstairs, the ladies of town arrive and are given entrance to her home by the old servant. Later, after Emily is buried, the townsfolk return and enter a room upstairs. There they find evidence of Emily's madness when they discover the rotted body of Homer Barron lying on a bed and covered with dust. To add to their horror, the townsfolk discover the indention of a head on the other pillow, and on this pillow is a long strand of "iron-gray hair" that apparently belonged to Miss Emily.

"A Rose for Emily": Insanity, Murder and Death Essay

1292 WordsOct 26th, 20106 Pages

Kimberly Sargent
Dr. Ha-Birdsong
English 1213
October 24, 2008
“A Rose for Emily”: Insanity, Murder and Death “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner, is a short story telling the life of Emily Grierson Throughout the story, Emily progresses from being a young “slender figure in white” (82) to, after her father’s death, having short hair that made “her look like a girl, with a vague resemblance to those angels in colored church windows-sort of tragic and serene” (83), and finally looking “bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water, and of that pallid hue” (81) with “her hair…turning…pepper-and-salt iron-gray” (85). Emily eventually becomes a recluse, living and sleeping with the dead body of Homer Baron. Emily clings…show more content…

Emily keeps telling everyone “that her father was not dead” (83). Now some readers may say that this is considered normal behavior when people are grieving - to deny the death of a loved one. But in Emily’s case this reaction shows that she refuses to let go of the past.
The progression of Emily’s insanity and twisted perception of reality is also seen in her relationship with Homer Baron. When Homer Baron comes to town after her father’s death, Emily attaches herself to him. Even though the townspeople are shocked that Emily is going on carriage rides with “a Northerner, a day laborer” (83), no one says anything to her despite their concerns: that “even grief could not cause a real lady to forget nobles oblige” (83). The saying “Poor Emily” (83) starts circulating among the townspeople along with the references to the fact that “old lady Wyatt, (Emily’s) … great-aunt, had gone completely crazy” (82). The townspeople seem concerned about Emily and state that they believe “her kinfolk should come to her” (83) to remind her of who she is. Meanwhile, Emily continues to carry “her head high… [and demands] more than ever, the recognition of her dignity as [being] the last Grierson” (83). Everyone in town knows that Homer has stated that “he liked men …. and was not the marrying kind” (84). Yet Emily continues to see Homer Baron [and] goes so far as to order him a “toilet set in silver, with the letters H. B. on each piece

Show More

Leave a Comment


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *