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The Symbolic Meaning in A Rose for Emily

The Symbolic Meaning in A Rose for Emily

A Rose for Emily was written by William Faulkner who was a famous representative of modernism writer in American and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949. My paper will analyze the symbolic meaning in A Rose for Emily. The aristocracy, Emily,who is the representative of southern culture, falls in love with homer who is the embodiment of North civilizations in the Jefferson. However,the seeming good beginning is finally a tragedy. Symbolism is consistently used to work out titles of his essays,William Faulkner give a vivid and detailed description of the heroine Emily to reveal the clashes between the new values and the old ones in the South . Therefore interpretation the implication of the “Rose” and “Emily” are the key to understanding the whole novel. 1. Symbolic meaning of the rose in the story 1.1 Rose as the representative of love In the western history and culture , rose has been on behalf of the pure and beautiful love. The “rose”, that is never mentioned in this novel, is always interpreted conventionally as a symbol of love. It might be used as the love Emily gets from her lover. The rose suggests love and beauty. Emily looked frosty, but she had passion and desires to a normal life in her bottom heart.William Faulkner told an interviewer what he meant by the title,he said "it was an allegorical title; the meaning was, here was a woman who had had a tragedy, an irrevocable tragedy and noth-ing could be done about it, and I pitied her and this was a salute… to a woman you would hand a rose." The word "rose" used in the title reflects Faulkner's grief and lament for the deceased Emily. 1.2 Rose as the representative of tragedy, decay and death. At the time the villagers went to her room and found the valance curtains of faded rose color and the rose-shaded lights in the room. Actually, the author plays a trick on Miss Emily. In fact, she doesn’t really get any love from any man, whether it is from her lover or her father. Emily could have a favorable marriage but for her father’s interference. She could have got her deserved love from homer. But on account of her obstinacy and pride, she receives tiredness and indifference, instead of affection---rose, from him. Thus, as an outsider, the author or the villagers, they give a rose as a tribute to Emily. Besides, the rose also stands for the author’s and villagers’ pity, sympathy and lament for Emily, whose mind is imprisoned in the past and fails to adapt to the change. What’s more, the author, “William Faulkner objectifies his complicated and emotional involvement in the South and in the people who grow up and live there ever since”. 2 Symbolic meaning of Emily in the story:Emily as the representative of the southern tradition In this novel, Emily symbolizes the south, old and tradition. Emily is an embodiment of the south, the old and tradition. At the very beginning of this story, the writer recounts the decoration of her house which is still 1870s style, isn’t change any more. Besides, she is also obstinate. When the new government compel the taxes on her,she refuses to pay the tax and even ridiculously mentions a colonel who has been dead almost ten years. Another example is that she prevents people from installing mail-box on the wall. She keeps the traditional views all the long,but resists to change anything. However, poor Emily is a determined woman. Regardless of people’s criticism, she insists on marrying a northerner whose social position is apparently lower than her. It is known that in that period of time, hierarchy is prevailing and deep-rooted through out the society. It particularly has a profound influence on marriage. When someone chooses a partner, he or she must consider the social position of the other party to the marriage. However, Emily chooses to disobey the convention and challenges tradition. Given this situation, her failure is quite expectable. However, she cannot get rid of the

shackles of the Southern conventions. After all, she captures her lover in her own way and the love is treated with honor. 3 Symbolic meaning of Emily’s house in the story 3.1 Emily’s house symbol Emily's social status. The building is a place for people to live , it is used to prevent wind and rain, so people can feel warm, comfortable and free . In the novel, Emily’s house is also an important symbol.This house was built after the civil war. The beautiful house shows that his master was very rich, the family enjoys high social status, and it is a symbol of the glory and honor of past. 3.2 Emily’s house as the representative of alienation, mental illness and death. Emily’s house, like Emily herself, is a monument, the only remaining emblem of a dying world of southern aristocracy. 4 Symbolic meaning of the strand of hair in the story The strand of hair is a reminder of love lost and the often perverse things people do in their pursuit of happiness. The strand of hair also reveals the inner life of a woman who, despite her eccentricities, was committed to living life on her own terms and not submitting her behavior, no matter how shocking, to the approval of others. A symbol is a way of telling a story and a way of conveying meaning. The best symbols are those that are believable in the lives of the charac-ters and also convincing as they convey a meaning beyond the literal level of the story. By the symbols,we know the love tragedy of Emily more, it helps us understand the denunciation of the sins and evils of the southern culture.

References: 1.William Faulkner,M.Thomas Inge.A Rose for Emily [M].Columbus,OH.:Charles E.Merrill Publishing Company,1970:19. 2.戴桂玉 Examinee’s Guide to Selected Readings in English and American Literatures(2005)P237 3.李 公 昭.美 国 文 学 选 读[M].西 安:西 安 交 通 大 学 出 版 社.2003. 4.何 仲 生,项 晓 敏.欧 美 现 代 文 学 史 [M]. 上 海 :复 旦 大 学 出 版 社 ,2002.


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