Psychoanalytic Criticism of A Rose for Emily A Rose for Emily is a sad story about a woman who struggles with being unable to cope with the death of her….
Miss Emily Grierson: Her Strength and Weakness as Portrayed in “A Rose for Emily”
In William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily,” Miss Emily Grierson has been perceived by her townsfolk as an icon and a monument, and that her family “held themselves a little too high for what they really were. None of the young men were quite good enough for Miss Emily and such.
We had long thought of them as a tableau […]” (Faulkner ). But deep down, Miss Emily was a broken woman, shielding herself from the changes of the world by repressing the changes and instead living in a make-believe world where she still was regarded as a woman of dignity.
One of the symbolisms used by Faulker to exemplify Miss Emily’s resistance to change is Miss Emily’s house which “[…] had once been [in] our most select street […] Miss Emily’s house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps” (Faulkner ).
This exemplifies Miss Emily’s personality who has strived to prevent the changes brought about by time within the town that she lived in (Holland 295-96).
Emily’s resistance to change is also depicted in her actions after the demise of her father where she refused to have him buried and “told them that her father was not dead. She did that for three days, with the ministers calling on her, and the doctors, trying to persuade her to let them dispose of the body” (Faulkner ; Holland 297) as well as when she was visited by the present mayor of the town in order to remind her about the taxes Miss Emily needs to pay, she sternly told them that according to “Colonel Sartoris […] I have no taxes in Jefferson” (Faulkner ) and suggested that they should speak with him regarding the matter.
This left the mayor and his companions baffled since not only was there no record in their books about such agreement, but also the fact that Colonel Sartoris has been deceased for around ten years.
When the townsfolk began to see Miss Emily with Homer Barron, this shocked the town since “a Grierson would not think seriously of a Northerner, a day laborer” (Faulkner ).
They had attributed this to the fact that since in the past, “[…] her father had driven away […]” (Faulkner ) all the young men who had tried to court Miss Emily during her younger years. However, “because Homer himself had remarked-he liked men and […] that he was not a marrying man” (Faulkner ), Miss Emily took matters into her own hands in order to prevent the change in their relationship from occurring.
Miss Emily’s behavior was attributed by the townsfolk as something that run in the family and a result of their proud nature by referring to “how old lady Wyatt, her great-aunt, had gone completely crazy at last […]even with insanity in the family she wouldn’t have turned down all of her chances if they had really materialized” (Faulkner ).
Taking a closer look at the story, Faulkner had given the reader some clues that drove Miss Emily into behaving in a manner that the townsfolk regarded as bizarre.
Sigmund Freud had developed the concept of repression on the idea of self-deceit and forgetting things at will at the same time forgetting that such an act has even occurred (Billig 13). One reason for repression to occur is due to the feelings of distress felt by an individual. Distress may be attributed from undesirable changes from one situation to another. This includes changes in time family, economic security that emotional well-being of an individual (Mirowsky and Ross 112).
Parents also contribute to the repression as seen in Freud’s Oedipus complex where the child acquires habits from their parents. Since what the adult says is more important than what the child says and the parents would impose things on the child, the tendency of the child is to repress his or her desires (Billig 105). All of these are clearly seen in Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily.”
Miss Emily’s repression was rooted on the upbringing she had received from her father. Her father indirectly imposed that he would be the only important person in the life of Miss Emily and repressed her longing to have relationships with other people in her town, specifically with the men. Miss Emily eventually carried this upbringing all throughout her life as “if that quality of her father which had thwarted her woman’s life so many times had been too virulent and too furious to die” (Faulkner ).