The Conflict Between The Individual and The Society in A Rose for Emily

The Conflict In Between The Person and The Society in A Rose for Emily

One of Faulkner’s most well-known short story, A Rose for Emily is based on the theme of the plain conflict in between the private and the impersonal voice of the community. To highlight this idea, the story is rendered through the cumulative perspective of the community that consists of Miss Emily.

Not inadvertently, the plot of the story is embeded in a village, where the relationship between the private and the society is an extremely tight one. Additionally, the storyteller of the story finds himself or herself amongst the people in the town and even speaks in the first individual plural, maintaining therefore a cumulative view of the events.

The heroine of the story appears therefore a lot more particular and isolated, when regarded through the curious lens of the community. The complex relationship between the individual, Emily Grierson, and the society, is emphasized in a number of methods. This dispute arises since Emily, a noble female of a high social standing, rejects all the social standards and conventions and enshrouds herself in her own dreams and obsessions instead of actively participating in the social life.

The psychotic mind of the primary character is therefore opposed to the gossiping community, which is limited to the function of a witness in this story. The reason for Emily’s power is precisely her insanity which also provides her an outright and lawless flexibility of action.

What is striking is that Faulkner draws the portrait of a disrupted and obsessive person, by setting it at a distance from the reader’s immediate understanding. If, in most of his novels, Faulkner employs numerous viewpoint and the technique of the streams of consciousness to narrate the occasions, in A Rose for Emily the lead character is analyzed from the perspective of an entire neighborhood.

The point of view that the townspeople deal on Emily’s story is, nevertheless, equally unreliable. Miss Emily is explained from the point of view of the neighborhood as a very hoity-toity individual, respected by everybody on account of her nobility however mostly misunderstood. The gossiping, ghostly voice of the town is left outside the properties of your house where the woman isolates herself.

Her refusal to pay taxes along with all her other whims and peculiarities are accepted by everyone without argument, merely since she is part of the upper, aristocratic social class. When she passes away however, the same neighborhood is shocked when they understand Miss Emily had captivated a perverse obsession during her remote life, and had actually slept with the dead body of her previous lover, whom she had poisoned herself.

Hence, the battle in between the female’s desires and the opposing forces is now obvious: she stubbornly holds on to the memory of her daddy and to the body of her dead enthusiast, unwilling to relinquish her feelings for them. Emily’s fixation initially with her daddy’s remains and with that of the fan is at the core of a morbid marriage fantasy that is the theme of the story.

For that reason, Emily breaks all the standard concepts of her community, starting with the laws of social interraction– she separates herself and turns down all human contact- and continuing with tax evasion and even with the concealment of the corpse of her lover, Homer Barron in her own room.

She is for that reason a killer or in any case an obsessive or mad person who however manages to avert social penalty. Through her, Faulkner draws a brilliant portrait of madness and the method which an individual manages to literary live out the most psychotic fancies in the middle of a typical small-town community.

By definition, insanity is characterized as a major variance from the accepted human behavior. Without being honestly unreasonable or incontrollable, Emily Grierson has an absolutely obsessive mind which leads her to react against the laws of society. Her purposeful self-incarceration in her own home and her apparent withdrawal from the typical life of the community indicate the dispute in between the individual and society.

Emily revolts versus social norms and chooses to reside in her morbid dream rather. She prepares for a ceremonial marriage that she feels she can not meet otherwise than through death. Her seclusion from society is also considerable, as she withdraws in the security of her own dream and declines the assumption of a pre-established social role.

The morbid gesture of violence that Emily carries out is a poignant rejection of social conventions connected to gender and marital relationship. However, her rejection of social presence does not point merely to the continuous tension in between individuality and community: Faulkner represents here the gap between the specific consciousness and the collective voice.

Although the impersonal narrator would seem to forbid mental questions in the story, the voice of the neighborhood itself creates mental stress. Regardless of her willful seclusion, Emily’s madness can therefore just be understood as a response to social restraint. The author stresses the fascinations that consume Emily as part of her action to social pressure. While the lady lives her fascination is silence and solitude, the society views all her movements keenly and with undiminished interest.

The most curious phenomenon in the text is in fact her presence as a person among the other ordinary individuals of the community, and the way in which she manages to avert the control of society over her own life. The neighborhood described here by Faulkner has a gossipy and even haunting voice that hovers over the household where Emily resides in complete isolation.

As the story is distinguished the viewpoint of this inquisitive and uneasy neighborhood, the reader gets a peek of the way in which Emily Grierson moves silently on, from one generation to another, closely watched by the members of her social environment. What wonders is that, with all its controling force, the community stops working to control Emily and her madness: “Hence she passed from generation to generation– dear, inevitable, invulnerable, relaxing, and perverse” (Faulkner 1970, p. 179).

Faulkner highlights this truth by describing Emily’s unusually strong and prevalent impact as a conquest of the social power. In this story, the specific appears to accomplishment over society and madness triumphs over standard. Interestingly, the murder of the fan remains in itself an anti-social function as well as a token of Emily’s compulsive nature.

However, the reality that Emily manages to leave social control to a certain level does not make her a totally free individual. Her marriage dream is the token that her behavior is determined, at least partially, by her reaction to social impact.

The actual motives of the murder performed by Emily remain unclear because of the gossipy narrative voice. It can be observed that Emily chose to perform her own mad marital relationship routine by acquiring a bride’s dress and all the needed accessories and preparing herself for the wedding-murder ceremonial.

Therefore, she averts social laws and devises her own marital relationship ritual, keeping her enthusiast with her in spite of the social forces that are trying to interfere. Significantly, the women of the town even try to dissuade her from pursuing her relationship with a male of a lower social standing. The society for that reason works its normal strategies against the person, only here it is the neighborhood that is beat each time.

Neither gossiping nor interference prosper. Therefore, Emily’s impressive strength assists her keep the guy she desires in spite of his own will and that of the society itself. It is specifically her insanity that makes Emily very powerful. She does not believe in laws and for that reason all social impositions fail.

Another circumstances of Emily’s obstinate rejection of social guidelines is the late funeral service for her father, due to her rejection to bury him. When, after the murder of Homer, the town is alerted by the nasty odor originating from Emily’s home, the town agents are so shy that they slip in the yard in the evening to dispel the odor, without having the courage to confront the woman.

Emily’s main stand therefore appears to be refusal: she refuses to comply with any of the typically accepted social standards, and hence takes full possession of her life and even of that of the male she enjoys. Faulkner hence describes the conflict between the non-conformist person and the social forces, indicating the private as a victor.

Emily claims absolute self-reliance from social impositions and stands apart from the community, in spite of the fact that she is closely enjoyed by the eyes of the mass. Her power originates from her madness and her specific character, which handle to keep her aloof from the meddlesome society. Thus, in Faulkner’s story, the relationship in between the specific and the neighborhood is regulated by the person’s capability to have frequently undesirable beliefs and even to act them out, through force and dignity.

While Emily’s victory over society seems complete, it should be kept in mind that Faulkner lays a fantastic emphasis here on psychology. The lady’s fixations with the 2 important men in her life, her daddy and her enthusiast, point to an obsession with the masculine forces. Emily is obsessed with the two males and is intent on preserving their bodies after death to fulfill her fantasy.

It becomes apparent that, in Faulkner, the rejection to accept death is more than the outcome of the discomfort felt by Emily at her loss. She in fact eliminates the male she enjoys, and then holds on to his corpse- this can be translated as an attempt to dominate death. It is not just the failure to accept that makes the lead character act in this method, however a desire for self-preservation against the odds of death.

What is likewise significant is that Emily ends up being obsessed with protecting the remains of the 2 men she enjoys, instead of just their memory. Her fixation requires to see the materialization of her dream. Instead of clinging to the memories she has of her enthusiast, Emily clings to the actual remains that outlasts the passion itself: “The body had apparently as soon as lain in the mindset of a welcome, but now the long sleep that outlives love, that conquers even the grimace of love, had cuckolded him” (Faulkner 1970, p. 182). In A Rose for Emily for that reason, Faulkner paints the image of individual obsession in its direst kinds, highlighting the inescapable dispute with society.

Although Emily overlooks all the social policies and norms that are imposed on her, she does not do this as an indication of simple disobedience. The lead character is not interested simply in asserting her self-reliance and individuality over the voice of society. Emily is the picture of the individual mind which is haunted by its own devils and which can not exist in the boundaries of the social milieu.

Her fixations indicate individual madness instead of the sobering voice of the community. The point of view that Faulkner selects for his story is very substantial in the story. Instead of delivering the story from the inside of Emily’s obsessive mind, he picks the voice of the community as the storyteller.

In this method, the “we” of the community is successfully opposed to the “I” of the disturbed and lonely character. It can be said that the story has biologist overtones in addition to being an instance of mental investigation. Emily’s morbid fantasies are a token of her obsession with the body and with the sensuous world.

Therefore, Emily’s story is a mental query into the pathological fixation of an individual. Her withdrawal from society is a token of the person’s failure to adapt to the social demands and requirements. While Emily’s case is a severe one, Faulkner mentions the preeminence of these impulses in most of the individuals.

He points to the mental complexity of the specific and to his real needs, which will in some cases prevent him from functioning as a member of society. The actual dispute is for that reason between the self and the other. The story underlines the trouble of adapting to a hostile social environment, which is moreover curious and gossiping.


Faulkner, William (1970 ). A Rose for Emily. Columbus. Merrill Publishing Business.

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