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Rhetorical essay on "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner

Marcus Aurelius once said, “Loss is nothing else but change, and change is natures’ delight.” In reading “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner as a rhetorical critic, Emily has a hard time accepting and adapting to change in her life. As evidenced by the language used in the story, Emily’s character, and the symbolism expressed. Emily lives a life of denial and solitude because she was sheltered by her father. This was the main cause in prompting Emily’s lifestyle. She did not know how to react when her father passed away and she had no one to turn to in her time of need for comfort.

In this situation, the language used in the story contributes immensely to the story line because the southern dialect displays the attitudes of the town’s people and narrows down the time period that the story takes place in. For instance, Judge Stevens, in the story said, “It’s probably just a snake or a rat that n***** of hers killed in the yard. I’ll speak to him about it” (Faulkner2). This segment of a dialogue was taken from the story to show that the story took place in the south and was right around the time after the civil war. Also, the language of the town’s people shows such pride and dignity in their town; a southern pride, often shown after the civil war. For example, this segment form the story shows that the people in Emily’s neighborhood were judging her. “That was when people had begun to feel really sorry for her. People in town, remembering how old lady Wyatt, her great-aunt, had gone completely crazy at last, believed that The Griersons held themselves a little too high for what they really were”(Faulkner3).

Furthermore, Emily’s character enhanced the story because she lived a life of denial and solitude. When her father died, she denied that it happened for three days, as stated in the text, “The day after his death all the ladies prepared to call at the house and offer condolence and aid, as is our custom Miss Emily met them at the door, dressed as usual and with no trace of grief on her face. She told them that her father was not dead. She did that for three days…” (Faulkner3). Emily was in denial about her father’s death. She refused to accept it, she could not handle that change. All she was left with was her father’s house. She then continued with a life of solitude. “After her father’s death she went out very little; after her sweetheart went away, people hardly saw her at all” (Faulkner2). Her father denied her of ever man willing to marry her. After he died, there was no one around to protect her. So she simply did not leave her house and lived a life of solitude from that day on.
To emphasize Emily’s lifestyle, Faulkner used symbolism in his writing. Emily’s house symbolized the southern aristocracy as the last remaining monument. Her house also symbolized solitude, mental illness, and death. “…Only Miss Emily’s house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps-an eyesore among eyesores” (Faulkner1). The Grierson family saw their house has an emblem of the south, but their neighbors did not see it that way at all. Another use of symbolism in the story is the strand of hair on the pillow found at the end of the story. “Then we noticed that in the second pillow was the indentation of a head. One of us lifted something from it, and leaning forward, that faint and invisible dust dry and acrid in the nostrils, we saw a long stand of iron-gray hair” (Faulkner7). The strand of hair symbolizes Emily’s lost love and the things one will do to follow their pursuit of happiness and the color and the description of the hair represents Emily and her character.
To close this story, we conclude that Emily has a hard time accepting and adapting to change in her life; as we can see this through the language, her character, and the symbolism in this story, “A Rose for Emily.” In reality, we all have our own way of accepting change; some can adapt easily and others not so much. As John Meyer says, “We’re all waiting on the world to change.”













Works Cited
Faulkner, William. A Rose for Emily. n.d.



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