An Analysis of William Faulkner, “A Rose for Emily,” The Harbrace Anthology of Short Fiction

This paper presents an analysis of William Faulkner, “A Rose for Emily,” The Harbrace Anthology of Short Fiction, 149. It will identify the use of figurative language, rhetorical devices, diction and other devices used in the story. Faulkner uses a lot of figurative language which entails the use of similes, metaphors and personification in his writing. In most cases, fiction writers use similes to imply a macabre tone in the story. An example of simile is used by Faulkner to describe the experience of an alderman who visits the house of Emily to collect her taxes. Faulkner gives a description of her as “bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water and of that pallid hue” (Faulkner). He compares Emily to a body sunk in water to suggest that she had been dead for some time. On the other hand, the term “motionless water” implies the house that surrounds her, around which changes continue occurring while it remains frozen.          

As part of a figurative language, Faulkner, also, embraces metaphors in his story. The term a “fallen monument” is an example of a metaphor. This is because when Emily dies; the entire town including men attends her funeral to show their respectful affection for her. The narrator makes a comparison between Emily’s former life with the monument, which is a non-living object. The effect of this metaphor is to create an impression of how people who live in town perceived Emily. To them, Emily symbolized time, and so she was no more.

Faulkner, also, enriches his figurative language through introduction of personification in the story. The narrator personifies the town and makes it one of the characters in the story, so that when Emily dies, the town comes to attend her funeral. Besides, the town is used as one of the characters in the story; that interacts with Emily on a regular basis to the extent of trying to influence her life. For instance, town representatives try to force her so that she can pay her taxes yet she believes that, a long time ago, Colonel Sartoris remitted all her taxes. Another example of personification is when the narrator uses the phrase, “in the ceder-bemused cemetery”where he gives human attributes to the cemetery (Faulkner). The narrator embraces imagery when he uses the house to symbolize Emily’s isolation for the society.

Faulkner, also, employs a number of rhetoric devices in the story. For instance, an instance of parallelism appears when the author suggests the house to imply a tomb kind of existence. Besides, Faulkner embraces parallelism, when he gives the picture of Emily living alone during her illness while embracing outdated traditions, which old aristocrats of the South lived with. Repetition is another rhetoric devices embraced by Faulkner in the story. For instance, the symbolic death of Emily is constantly repeated in the story. The phrase “the house dust and disuse-a close, dank smell” is, also, an instance of repetition in the story (Faulkner). The author, also, uses antithesis in the story. Emily being a southern woman knows too well that she should get married in order to avoid public rumor mongering. She marries Homer Baron; a man from the North who is a complete antithesis of a gentleman from the South. She, also, makes this marriage decision in order to remain secluded in the society. Faulkner, also, embraces alliteration in the passage. In the first section; for instance, there is alliteration where the narrator uses the phrase “the dust rose sluggishly about their thighs, spinning with slow motes in the single sunray” (Faulkner). Faulkner uses onomatopoeia in the story and an instance is where the narrator uses the phrase “the thin, swift clop-clop-clop of matched team passed” (Faulkner) A lot of instances of diction are evident in the passage. For instance, the use of the phrase “it was a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies” (Faulkner). In this phrase, the narrator embraces architectural vocabulary in a specific way to hint to the readers that this community is informed, and pays a lot of attention to the changes that occur. There is preponderance of adjectives and the verbs are active. In terms of sentence structure, the narrator uses long complex sentences in some sections. The sentences are complete and some of them use parallelism for effect.

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