The importance of literature cannot be gainsaid as far as the

intellectual health of the society in the contemporary world is
concerned. Literature has been used as a guide to the society, depicting
the evils encompassed in a society, as well as outlining the heroic acts
of hypothetical role models, all in an effort to encourage, discourage
or demystify certain characteristics in the society. In most cases, the
characters, who may be villains or heroes embody the characteristics
against or for which the author is arguing. These, however, may be
masked in other less desirable characteristics. This is the case for
Miss Emily in the story “A Rose for Emily”. As much as there are
some characteristics of Miss Emily that may be deemed inappropriate, it
is worth noting that she typifies the Southern Gothic Heroine.
Gothic fiction refers to a genre of literature that incorporates
elements of romance, as well as horror. Miss Emily is in various ways a
heroine of the southern gothic especially considering the many things
that she did that were thought of as against the will, aspirations and
expectations of the society.
The story, narrated via the point of view of a third person outlines the
life of Miss Emily, whose funeral is taking place. Evidently, Ms. Emily
was a mystery to the town’s citizen as the narrator states that no one
has seen the inside of the lady’s house for almost a decade. In
essence, the people of this village or town are crowding in this place
so as to have a glimpse of the house, simply out of curiosity. The
narrator explains that the deceased (Ms. Emily) was grandeur or a chip
of the old block in the contemporary world. However, there are some
things that set her apart from the other people living in the society.
This is especially considering or having in mind that the story is set
in a chauvinist society where all people are against the things that she
One of the things that set Ms. Emily apart from others as a heroine of
the tragic tale is her opposition to the societal views after the death
of her father. Two years after her father’s death, neighbors had
complained about a foul smell. Law enforcers decided that they would
sneak in to the house at night and sprinkle lime. However, Ms. Emily
emerges at the window as they are leaving (Faulkner 76). The narrator
outlines that this happened just when people were beginning to be sorry
for her. The people had in a way become resentful of the Griersons for
being too high-handed. When the ladies had gone to call on Emily after
her father died, she lied that he was not dead. She only allowed her
father to be buried after being threatened with the law and the
possibility of application of force. This is seen as standing against
the aspirations of the society, which especially revolves around the
will of the men in that society. It is worth noting that the key
conclusion was that she was merely clinging to the things that she had
been robbed of especially pertaining to a married life as her father had
not allowed her suitors close to her.
In addition, the sexuality of Miss Emily is threatening to the people in
this town. It was used as an embodiment of female sexuality, which
according to the imagination of males provided women with incredible
power over men, as well as power exclusive of the influence of males. As
Margie Burns states, the house was identified with Emily and females in
general. The phrases such as coquettish decay and “heavily
lightsome” anthropomorphize it and model it into an eyesore just like
Emily and suggesting a veiled and threatening sexuality in the two
edifices (Faulkner, 187). The sexuality of Miss Emily is outlined in
artistic depiction, as well as correlating suppression.
It is also worth noting that the narrator describes Miss Emily as an
idol. As much as Miss Emily has committed a foul crime, she is not
viewed as a criminal, rather she is a victim of circumstances (Roberts,
65). He father had kept her under restriction, and it is commendable
that she outgrows these rules and even goes ahead to date Homer. This is
a way of struggling and rebelling against the circumstances that have
been imposed on her by the society and especially the men embodied by
her father. Scholars note that the envisioning of Miss Emily by the
narrator (townspeople) as an idol is a validation of the roles that they
have assigned to themselves as providers and protectors. In addition,
placing her on the pedestal eliminates the need for them to accept the
implications pertaining to the acknowledgement of her humanity, as well
as subsequent sexuality. This tendency, however, is broken when she
defies her father, the society and the law officers. This is bound to
symbolize the breaking of chains by the womenfolk against the domination
and definition by men (Roberts, 43).
In addition, the concept of being a heroine may be examined through the
evidence and crucial nature of the relic concept. As much as the
community would like the readers to see Miss Emily as a horrible
murderer, it is unimaginable that she was ever exposed to positive and
admirable examples on the manner in which she should live and take part
in healthy relationships (Roberts, 56). This is especially considering
the restrictions within which the community, as well as her father
expected her to function. Pursuance of Homer Barron is the only action
that this lady has executed as she only does the things that are
expected of her by the society and father. The community thought that
Miss Emily would bring their own healing, as she would patch the past to
the future and preserve the way of life that every other member has been
indoctrinated to preserve. This plan, however, backfires when this woman
evolves into a woman who incorporates desires, as well as her will as to
act without having to ask for permission from anybody. Emily, therefore,
is a representation and demonstration of the subjugation that females or
women who live in the post-confederate south experience, in their day to
day life. As much as the book does not give a clear and viable plan for
the modification of this aspect, it uses the character of Miss Emily as
a way of insisting or laying emphasis on the reevaluation of the
chauvinism and status quo present in the book (Roberts, 34).
In conclusion, as much as she Miss Emily may have a despicable past, she
is an embodiment of the traits that are admirable for a heroine in
southern gothic. Emily stands against the law enforces, the society and
her farther so as to assert the place of women in society.
Works cited
Roberts, Diane. Faulkner and Southern Womanhood. Athens, Georgia: U of
Georgia Press, 1994. Print
Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Miss Emily.” The Seagull Reader. Ed.
Joseph Kelly.
New York: Norton, 2001. 73-83.