A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner – Who was Miss Emily?



            The story written by William Faulkner is a mix of suspense and mystery. The narrator speaks on behalf of the town’s collective voice and pictures Miss Emily as a character full of interesting yet strange psychological traits. Besides being a Southern woman who comes from an aristocratic family, who was Miss Emily?  Although the townspeople would prefer to see Miss Emily as an idol, the reader could realize that the main character had psychological problems. First, she held her dead father at home for four days in a Freudian denial attitude. Then, when she finally started having a relationship, her insecurity and low self-esteem drove her to buy arsenic and soon after that, her boyfriend mysteriously disappeared.  Those elements together would’ve given us an idea of what was happening; however, other elements such as the tax issues and the judgmental tone towards African – American people and women distracted us. Those facts, added to the chronological aspect of the story were mixed, which caused the diversion of the reader’s focus.

The setting reflects Miss Emily’s inner situation. A dark and dusty house, humid and moldy furniture and appliances, antiques, faded colors, tarnished silver and gold objects; all of that, transmit the feeling of an individual who was trying to resist change. Miss Emily wanted to ignore the world and its modifications. Emotionally, she could not face changes. She was buried in her house, in the memories of her beloved father, in her own confused feelings and in her dusty furniture. The elements that composed the physical setting conveyed a gloomy and mysterious mood to the reader.  The narrator uses “we”, which denotes a first person plural point of view. The narrator seems to know Miss Emily very well since she/he mentions details of her house and even evaluate Miss Emily as being a “[…] tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town[…]”. The narrator makes clear that Miss Emily was an alive entity who incited curiosity and even fear in the population of Jefferson.

One could attempt to analyze Miss Emily personality going through several different paths; from a person who suffers from conditions such as Schizophrenia to the extreme of classifying her as a sociopath or necrophiliac. Nonetheless, I’ll attempt to sketch her personality profile based on Freudian concepts such as Defense Mechanisms, Oedipus Complex and a concept coined by Kenneth Adams, the Covert or Emotional Incest. Throughout the story, besides a great-aunt and two distant female cousins, Miss Emily did not have any feminine figure cohabiting with her. That makes one wonder how the relationship between Miss Emily and her father was structured without the role of a “mother” between them throughout the years. I believe that her father would establish and reinforce this emotional incestuous relationship by attributing Miss Emily the role of “wife”, which might not have been physical but psychological. That is demonstrated in the story by “We remembered all the young men her father had driven away […]”.  When her father died, Miss Emily clung to the body in denial of his death for four days. She was extremely attached to the figure of the father in different aspects and she would fiercely grieve her idealized “husband”. For instance, “[…] none of the young men were quite good enough for Miss Emily and such,” denotes the idealization that Miss Emily would have about her father. In order to interest her, a man would have to resemble her father; not physical, but psychological resemblance. As one could admit, it would be extremely difficult for Miss Emily to fulfill her idealization. As a consequence, she had many years of mourning and developed into an egotist, conceited, attached and perverse individual. As such, the house became her refuge, a place stopped in time, where she could revive her memories and feel psychologically comfortable. After years of grieving, she finally met a person with the possibility of staying with her. Nonetheless, one of Miss Emily’s traits was insecurity, which could also be extended to fear of loss. In an attempt to resolve the situation, she carefully prepared her bridal room and planned Homer Barron’s death. At that point, her contact with reality was disrupted and she started living under the illusion of having Homer Barron as her husband. As opposed to what happened to her father, no one knew Homer Barron was dead. This time, the residents of Jefferson would not be able to take Homer Barron away from her since everyone thought he’d abandoned Miss Emily. Meanwhile, all the gossipy and narrow minded people from the town of Jefferson could not realize that Miss Emily was not just a mere entertaining object but, she was mentally disturbed.

To conclude, I strongly believe that Miss Emily was a lady who had a dysfunctional relationship with her father since her childhood. She and her father had this emotional incestuous relationship in which the father attributed her with duties of a spouse. Later in her life, she started seeing her father as if he was her “husband”. They might have never had a physical incest, but the emotional burden was placed and disrupted Miss Emily’s life until the end. That transformed her in an egotist, attached, insecure and perverse woman.


Works Cited

Kennedy, X.J, and Dana Gioia. “Point of View: A Rose for Emily.” Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama and Writing. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson, 2013.  Print.

McLeod, Saul. “Sigmund Freud.” Simply Psychology, 19 Jan. 2013. Web. 14 June 2014. <http://www.simplypsychology.org/Sigmund-Freud.html&gt;.

Adams, Kenneth, and Patrick Carnes. “What is the silent seduction?” Silently Seduced: When Parents Make Their Children Partners. Deerfield Beach: Health Communications, Inc., 2011. Print.

Aristotelian Rhetorical Analysis: Believes


This ad ” Believes”  was created for the presidential campaign of 2012 in which President Obama was trying to be re-elected. The United States’ social scenario featured the consequences of the housing collapse and the credit crisis of 2007. Americans and their dreams were stopped by the great recession; therefore, it was necessary to re-construct the American Dream. It was necessary to fuel people with hope of a country that could recover from the housing bubble through hard work and a more social oriented public administration. The target audience was the US middle and lower class. The middle class’ economic growth was paralyzed by the great recession while the lower class expected to socially move upwards. Middle and lower class citizens were eager to see governmental changes since many lost their jobs, houses and credit due to predatory lending practices. With that said, it would be quite interesting to tailor a presidential campaign based on strong national cultural elements such as the American Dream. The “Believes” advertisement predominantly used pathos in order to achieve its goal which was gaining voters through the re-conceptualization of the American Dream.

The ad “believes”, used an “inspiration” style that stimulated potential voters to not only vote for President Obama but also conquered more voters through the word of mouth; which by the way is one of the most powerful marketing tools. The ad started the re-conceptualization of the American Dream, which later was re-stated by President Obama in one of his speeches (Wyatt- Nichol 271). The President repeatedly and emphatically said:  “I believe”.  This statement sets up what will be the re-conceptualization of the American Dream.  The ad’s objective was to persuade the target audience by appealing to their emotions. It aimed at creating   identification between President Obama’s ideals and voters.  I consider that pronouncing emphatically words and phrases generates contagious motivation and hope. The ad featured a new beginning; the sun was rising, the alarm clock was ringing, a brand new day was just starting and Americans were getting ready for another work day. It transmitted a feeling of renewal and restart. That made the listener feel excited, looking forward to positive changes. One can clearly see an appeal to pathos through the incitation of emotions.

Other factors such as people expressing approval, the word “FORWARD” was appearing in the end of the ad and the President said: “we are a nation of workers and dreamers”, brought together tangible and intangible realities. The President presented his ideas and ideals and those induced Americans to think of their capability to move forward. There was a mix of emotion and logic; Americans can perfectly carry out their dreams through hard work. The appeal to ethos could also be identified since the United States is recognized and respected worldwide by its hard-working people.

One can also observe the appeal to logos since ideas such as “economic growth through a wider middle class” were presented; however, the ad predominantly focused on persuading by appealing to people’s emotions. In addition, when the President brought together tangible and intangible realities, clearly represented by the words “work” and “dream”, one can perceive how the concept of the American Dream is present (Wyatt- Nichol 272) and acts as an important element during President Obama’s campaign and consequently re-election.

To conclude, I strongly believe that the ad accomplished its motivational goal through the usage of pathos as a rhetorical strategy. It brought up the American Dream elements that are entrenched in Americans’ lives. In addition, President Obama not only brought up the American Dream but also re-defined it. 


Works cited

Wyatt- Nichol, Heather. “The enduring myth of the American dream: mobility, marginalization and hope.” International Journal of Organization Theory and Behavior. 14. 2 (2011): 258-279. Print