Isolation and Its Effects in A Rose for Emily

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The effects of isolation can be devastating to any given individual after a prolonged period. A Rose for Emily is a short narrative that attempts to shed more insight on isolation and its effects by primarily focusing on the main character of the composition: Emily Grierson. In her role to act as a noble lady and the daughter of a famous man in her town, she dies under mysterious circumstances (Faulkner). While attempting to unearth details that led to her death, the townspeople open a can of worms in the process, realizing the true nature of the highly conservative public figure. The story begins at the end, with her townspeople attending her funeral. She is initially revered as the town’s tradition and a hereditary obligation upon the metropolitan’s citizens (Faulkner). But she is far from honorable. Emily Grierson is a narcissistic sociopath who may be suffering from Stockholm syndrome after years of introversion, abuse, and rejection from the society.

Miss Emily is the leading character in the intriguing story. She is an old school individual who the townspeople identify as a Southern belle (Faulkner). She is the single daughter of a notable figure, Mr. Grierson, who was probably a widower during the time of his death. There are no mentions about her mother. She lives in an old house that is situated in a place that was once prime residential land, but due to industrialization, was put up for commercial and industrial use. Emily is a quiet person who does not like to be seen often, as noted in cases where people would go for years without hearing from her or about her (Faulkner). After her funeral, the townspeople decide to run a quick check at her inherited estate, uncovering her true nature in full, and defining her character in a rather unexpected way.

Emily is clearly an introvert, to begin with. According to the author, she is almost always indoors and does not entertain guests a lot. Apart from her and her servant, nobody else is seen frequenting her premises. It is noted that nobody has been to her house in a decade, affirming her introversion. Another evidence suggesting her conservative nature is how, during the whole story, one can agree that she did not have a history of intimate relationships, except with Homer Barron (Faulkner). Some townspeople add to this, as noted in the scene where she is seen buying arsenic from the local drugstore, and they conclude she wants to commit suicide because she is above thirty and still unmarried. Their opinion serves as proof that she is anti-social.

She may also be living a double-life, as she is meant to carry herself as a well-known individual. Secretly, Miss Emily battles with poverty since she does not inherit any wealth from her father except for his house. This scenario may also attribute to her stubbornness. When the ‘new generation’ approaches her to pay taxes, she stubbornly refuses, laying claims that she only works with the old arrangement that her father and Colonel Sartoris had made prior to his death (Faulkner). Miss Emily proves to be hard-headed by going to the extent of dating Homer, a Northerner who is liked by the townspeople. He is in town working on a sidewalk project. She does not care about the town-dwellers’ opinions and efforts to separate her from the man she is in love with. These scenarios serve as valid proof that she is hard to deal with.

Emily is also identified as a sociopath, possibly the most shocking part of the story. When her father dies, the town notices her state of denial for three days, and this is the first instance where we are able to note that there is something amiss. The lack of emotions after her father’s death could be an indication of mental instability, a factor that is common among sociopaths. The other evidence is the stench that comes from her compound. So bad is it that the town decides to sprinkle lime around her house, and it works (Faulkner). The source of the smell is, in fact, the rotting corpse of her lover, Homer. His body is discovered by the townspeople who barged into her room after the funeral. The decomposing body was well dressed, and the pillow next to it indicated that she was sleeping next to it. This act is an indication of a rather grandiose sense of self, coupled with a sociopathic need for stimulation. These incidences show that she may have suffered from a mental breakdown, possibly due to her past.

Miss Emily’s overall character may portray signs of a person who is suffering from Stockholm syndrome. Noted to have had an abusive father, she mostly grew up alone, and his harsh treatment may have sparked the beginning of her sociopathic character. Needless to say, the town was obsessed with her representation and how she was the town’s monument of traditionalism and culture (Faulkner). This case automatically blocks her from getting a regular job, and thanks to a restrictive society, she is forced to stay indoors, making her an anti-social introvert in the process. Efforts by the town to stop her from getting married to Homer only make the situation worse for her. Emily also undergoes a form of social stigma, with some townspeople encouraging the thought of suicide. A Rose for Emily is a tale full of shock value and intrigue, and the representation of the main character as a sociopathic murderer is well-done.

Work Cited

  1. Faulkner, W. A rose for Emily. Paderborn, De: Verlag F. Schöningh, 1958.

Cite this paper

Isolation and Its Effects in A Rose for Emily. (2021, Feb 16). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/isolation-and-its-effects-in-a-rose-for-emily/



How is Emily isolated in A Rose for Emily?
Emily is isolated in A Rose for Emily because she is cut off from the rest of the town due to her family's perceived superiority and her own reclusive behavior. Her isolation is further intensified by the death of her father, the loss of her lover, and her descent into madness.
Which character is more isolated Tobe or Miss Emily?
Tobe is more isolated because he is Miss Emily's only servant and he is not allowed to leave the house. Miss Emily is also isolated, but she has more contact with the outside world.
Why is isolation a problem in A Rose for Emily?
In "A Rose for Emily," isolation is a problem because it leads to Miss Emily's mental breakdown and eventual murder of Homer Barron.
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