pride and prestige

Essay by betianaUniversity, Bachelor'sA, March 2014

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Prestige and prejudice

"A Rose for Emily", published by the American writer William Faulkner, is a southern gothic short story about Miss Emily Grierson´s eccentric life and slow death. From start to end, the characters in the story clearly show the dichotomy between the dynamic society in Jefferson, with its new economic, political, and social changes, and Emily's stubborn resistance against the current transitional life of the village. Her determination to preserve the status quo of her social class together with people's interference in her private life contribute to the slow yet evident decay of this mysterious woman.

The story is tainted by the gradual transition process after the American civil war (1861-1865), which is distinctively reflected in all the characters. It depicts a modern closed society in Jefferson, Mississippi, who is completely obsessed with Miss Grierson's sheltered private life. This critical period of transition from the traditional society to the industrialized modern one seems to affect significantly the hereditary conservatism in the protagonist's life and social class.

This fictional work unfolds in a non-chronological order of episodes and it is divided into five parts. Its circular structure shows a flashforward of Emily's funeral, at the very beginning, and immediately goes back to the main character's youth and adult life, events that are followed by a further development of her funeral at the end of the story, when the characters attending it enter her most private spaces and realize the tragic truth about what has been previously hidden from them.

In the protagonist´s funeral, we learn about the mixed reactions of people in town when entering her derelict house. In her lifetime, men considered Emily an unattached respectful woman, whereas some women seem to have pitied her, and others openly criticized her. These women regarded Emily's behavior...