Miss Emily Grierson is the protagonist in the short story “A Rose for Emily”written by American author William Faulkner. It is a story about the life of a southern declining aristocrat lady, Emily Grierson, and her weird relationships with her father, boyfriend and the people in town. She is born in an upper class family and grew up under her father’s controlling attitude. The disfunction of the family and cruel reality put Emily into a deep despair, and reveal the repression and darkness of an older society. The characterization of Miss Emily is an important part of the story; she can be described as an arrogant, conservative, and lonely lady. Miss Emily was born in a southern influential family, arrogance seemed like something she learned from an early age. Feeling as though she were somehow better, or more important, came naturally to her. When the aldermen come to her house, everyone rises as she enters the parlor. She does not ask her guests to sit down, she just stands in the door, listening to the spokesman, and replies to the question with a dry and cold voice (Faulkner 122). She thinks when she is standing, no one should be sitting down in recognition of her status. She always carries her head high, even when the people in town think she is fallen (124). She has to keep up the appearance of her high status just as she was taught to do. No matter how far she sinks the illusion of her high status must be maintained. Miss Emily is a static character, which means a character who never changes in the story. Her character does not seem able to, or even want to, change her behavior no matter what occurs in the story. She represents the old and traditional, so “conservative” would be an accurate term to describe this personality trait. There are several examples to prove Miss Emily’s trait of conservatism: First, she refuses to pay taxes persistently. Even when the aldermen come to her house and try to convince her to pay her taxes, she insists they speak to Colonel Sartoris who had been dead for years (122); Second, she refuses to get the metal numbers and a mailbox when the town gets free postal delivery (125); Third, the dust is everywhere on the furniture in her house which means the furniture has never been moved (122). Miss Emily does not want to pay taxes or get a mailbox because she cannot accept new things in her life. She always keeps her furniture in the same spot because she does not like to see things changed. She has been locked in her soul in a constant world and she never gets out. Since Miss Emily always keep herself in her own world, she is increasingly isolated and lonely. She opens the door of her house once when she was teaching pupils china-painting, but when those kids grow up, she closes her door for good (125). She turns down the condolences and well wishes of the other ladies after her father dies. She cannot accept the truth of her father’s death, because she knows she has nothing left after he is gone. She even tries to keep his dead body in the house, in that way, at least she will have some company (123). Miss Emily could not keep her father’s body after the doctors push her with law and force, but she keeps her sweetheart--Homer Barron--to be with her, in her way (125). She furnished a bridal room , poisoned him, and put him in bed forever. She may lie down on the bed with her lover every cold, lonely night, put his stiff arms around her, and dream about their happy married life, including their imagined children. But all her dreams are just fantasy, he is a dead cold body, and she remains the prideful, lonely lady. Miss Emily is a eccentric lady, but her life experience makes people sympathetic to her and pity her. She is living in a declining aristocratic family, “the Griersons held themselves a little too high for what they really were” (123), her arrogant, selfish, father drove away all the young men and left her nothing but an old ugly house devoid of the sounds of a happy family. The only time she swallows her pride is for love, but even so, her lover still tries to leave her. Without the dignity of being noble, Miss Emily has nothing left. So she carries her head high, and maintains her remaining dignity to the end.
Works Cited Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily.” Lit. Ed. Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell. Student ed. Boston: Wadsworth. 2012. 121-125. Print.