Proud but Lonely Character of "A Rose for Emily"

Essay by jasonlee0905University, Bachelor'sA+, February 2006

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William Faulkner's short story "A Rose for Emily" reflects the customs and traditions in post-bellum Mississippi. The story is told by an anonymous narrator who lives in the town of Jefferson, observing Emily's relationships with men in general, her father and her lover. The entire story is pervaded with a sense of foreboding. On the surface, Emily, the protagonist, is a lady who is a lonely and sad individual. Faulkner portrays Miss Emily as a dynamic character whose pride and loneliness cause her to murder her lover and pursue endless love.

Emily's pride plays an important role in her personality shift. She is raised in a reputable family in the South with "the august names of that neighborhood," and has a high sense of self respect. "Miss Emily, who had been idle most of her life, is looked upon as an idol by the people of Jefferson" (Davis 35).

When her father dies, Emily does not tell anyone about her loss; her strong pride prevents her from accepting the townspeople's condolences. Colonel Sartoris, a friend of her father, is also concerned because she has little money. He tells her that she does not have to pay taxes in Jefferson because Colonel Sartoris knows her pride would not let her receive his charity. In addition, her lofty pride sometimes causes her to become obstinate; indeed, she never makes concessions. When tax authorities come to her house to collect her taxes, she embarrasses them and runs them out of the house. Emily says to the authorities, "See Colonel Sartoris." (Colonel Sartoris had been dead almost ten years). "I have no taxes in Jefferson. Tobe!" (703). Consequently, her pride leads her beyond her rights. For instance, when she goes to buy poison in the drug store, she refuses to follow the...