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“A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner

Every person experiences certain emotions and feelings during his or her life. These feelings and emotions can be positive or negative, and together they constitute the emotional state of a person. At the same time, art on the whole and literature in particular, are used by people to describe their emotions. One of the most notable authors of the emotional prose is William Faulkner, whose short story “A Rose for Emily” is exactly the focus of this paper. In more detail, this paper will discuss the emotional state of the main character of the short story, Emily Grierson, in various periods of her life including childhood, the middle of her life and the time after her death. Moreover, the statements made will be supported with the quotations from the short story by Faulkner.

To start with, it is necessary to state that the story under consideration is actually a description of the chronological events in the life of people of a small American town. However, at the closer look at this story, the reader acquires the understanding of the fact that Faulkner’s work is a masterpiece of psychological prose. The emotional world of Emily Grierson is what the reader observes throughout the story. Thus, in her childhood, Emily used to be a calm girl with a lot of respect to her father and their family traditions. Accordingly, her emotional state was also rather calm. However, her father’s death turned Emily into a reserved person who communicated little with others: “After her father’s death she went out very little; after her sweetheart went away, people hardly saw her at all.” (Faulkner, 2009) Accordingly, the relations with the opposite sex were far from ideal and affected her further life greatly.

Thus, in the middle of her life, Emily Grierson experienced a lot of disappointments and decided to keep her emotions in her own mind without telling them to her friends, relatives or neighbors. Special importance in this is attributed to the death of her father and, later, the break with her husband. On the whole, the upbringing did not allow Emily to be rather free in communication with the men: “None of the young men were quite good enough for Miss Emily and such. We had long thought of them as a tableau; Miss Emily a slender figure in white in the background, her father a spraddled silhouette in the foreground, his back to her and clutching a horsewhip, the two of them framed by the back-flung front door. So when she got to be thirty and was still single, we were not pleased exactly, but vindicated; even with insanity in the family she wouldn’t have turned down all of her chances if they had really materialized.” (Faulkner, 2009) Thus, in the middle of her life Miss Emily Grierson experienced serious emotional issues connected with her being lonely, her father’s prohibition to develop the relations with other men, and the attitudes of her neighbors who considered her to be a sloppy and reserved person: “When her father died, it got about that the house was all that was left to her; and in a way, people were glad. At last they could pity Miss Emily. Being left alone, and a pauper, she had become humanized. Now she too would know the old thrill and the old despair of a penny more or less.” (Faulkner, 2009).

However, everything changed after Miss Emily’s death. When the town came to know about the death of a person whom no one of them considered to be their friend, they all came to see her for the last time. When she died, Emily Grierson was a lonely woman with an only Negro servant helping her about the house. Her emotional state of that time could be characterized as a broken one without any hope for the better future. Long ago, she decided to lock the ground floor of her house up, and did not show up to the street. However, after her death she could finally feel emotional relief from that tension in which she had spent her whole life. Moreover, those who did not like her as a person when she was alive, came to see her for the last time and express their sympathy to this poor woman (Faulkner, 2009). Thus, only death became the relief for Emily Grierson, and only after death her emotional state became peaceful – no one insulted her and she had nobody to hide from in her lonely house.

So, to make the respective conclusion to this paper, it is necessary to state that Emily Grierson experienced the full circle of emotional development. Her childhood experiences were rather calm, peaceful and reserved. The adult life brought only the disappointments and negative experiences to Emily’s emotional life, and only after her death she managed to return to the peaceful emotional state. Thus, it is obvious from this short story that an emotional state of a person is greatly dependant upon the public attitude towards this person. Sometimes, death comes to help people whom no one in their lives could help.

Works Cited

Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily.” Workshops. 2009. Web.

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"“A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner." StudyKraken, 8 Nov. 2021,

1. StudyKraken. "“A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner." November 8, 2021.


StudyKraken. "“A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner." November 8, 2021.


StudyKraken. 2021. "“A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner." November 8, 2021.


StudyKraken. (2021) '“A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner'. 8 November.

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