Symbolism in “A Rose for Emily”

William Faulkner belongs to the greatest masters of prose of the twentieth century. In Europe, his works received recognition in the 20s of the previous century, and in the 30s he became known throughout the world. In his works, he combines the traditions of modernism with symbolism and the literature of the stream of consciousness. Faulkner's name became known largely due to his literary experiments. And yet his first story "The Rose for Emily" has nothing to do with his experiments. 


The work gives the impression of a story written somewhere in the 18th century. In some way, the traditional symbolism of this story creates a cozy atmosphere, plunging into which, the reader gets acquainted with the history of love, or something more mundane, or vice versa. It is possible that this is a story about prejudices and the pressure of traditions or about something else.
This is a contentious issue who is the main character in the story.

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The mysterious Emily is buried at the very beginning of the story. And the story itself is told as if by the inhabitants of the whole city. We learn about the tragic fate of Emily only by rumors. The whole work appears before us in the retrospect, gradually revealing new facts from the life of Miss Emily, as if removing a layer over the age of dust from this southern idol, which in life itself could not sometimes determine in what time, past or present, she lives. Rumors and prejudices played a huge role in Emily's life. She is a peculiar relic, a fossil that the city treasures, and from the very beginning, she finds itself captive to the role imposed first by her father, and then on the rest of the townsfolk. While the whole country is moving forward, Emily is forced to maintain her reputation and live like a fossil in her family home. 


The special symbolism of this story is associated with the period of history when the story takes place. This is the first decades after the Civil War between North and South and the abolition of slavery. It is by no means accidental that Emily, whose family kept plantations and slaves, falls in love with the worker, who obviously symbolizes factories and of the North. In this love story, a small but important part of American history is revealed. 


Failure to meet a couple characterizes the reverse side of her image. In view of the strict religious patriarchal world of South America and the attitude of the inhabitants of the city to the Grisons, Miss Emily had a chance to become only an old maiden and to embody this widespread archetype. Ms. Emily's white color is a Christian symbol of chastity and innocence, it is at the same time the color of the death of femininity imprisoned in the palace of the virgin, and the color that breaks up into a whole range of other colors, symbolizing the emotion of the flourish that was suppressed in her soul. 

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