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William Faulkner is a revered modernist writer whose literary works have captured the attention of many readers. His works attract the raw beauty of the Old South in all its dark intricacy. Faulkner has authored a number of literary works including The Marble Faun, Mosquitoes, Sartoris, andshort story “A Rose for Emily” among many others. Every reader notes the aspect of modernism in his writing. It is an age of contemporary events. Consequently, Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” is a short fictional story about mysterious and horrifying events that take place in a dull and ghostly setting. It presents the story of a Mississippi woman living in solitude according to the outdated customs of the Old South aristocrats. Loneliness makes her succumb to mental illness. Emily is a disastrous figure manipulated by her father. She is unable to operate in the contemporary world, and she lives mostly reclusively. The story did come to the limelight after the American Civil War. The events of that time influenced Faulkner’s writing style. In his story, he focuses on the hardships facing Emily’s family in a similar way as the victims of the Civil War faced tragedies. This paper explores how the age of modernism influenced William Faulkner’s literary work.
First, many aspects of Faulkner’s story reveal this novelty. Miss Emily, the title character, suffers under the dominant male influence in her entire life. Faulkner uses connotations to demonstrate the kind of confinement women experience in the hands of men in the modern world. In his story, he uses metaphors to illustrate Miss Emily’s confinement in her town. He advocates for her to attain a more liberal position in society. In essence, Faulkner supports the feminist movement. However, he did desire reformative solutions to the problems encountered by women in the modern society. He also uses metaphors to demonstrate the artistic ideas that depict Emily’s position within her patriarchal society. The description he gives regarding Miss Emily matches the contemporary age. Faulkner has knowledge about that period of his life. He presents Emily as a woman in the modern world. Despite her age, she is unmarried. While in the past that would be an issue, modernization no longer criticizes such women. One pertinent idea to the purpose is related to Faulkner’s understanding of modern society’s appropriation and manipulation of women. He then applies this concept of misuse to Miss Emily by casting her as dissimilar pieces of art; the modern people ascertain and retain their control over her.
This modernistic society is characterized by evidence of social differences. Miss Emily emanates as a fulfillment of culture’s stereotypes and expectations regarding women in society. It is a similar challenge a woman of the current age faces in our society today. From her experiences, one sees the portrayal of Emily and the society in which she lives; all of the symbolize precise concerns relating the frontages imposed on women in the American South. Throughout the story, the author depicts the characteristics of Miss Emily constructed by her society. It is also imperative to point out that the entire story is narrated through the voice of the communal narrator, the voice of the townspeople and significantly, the voice that expresses strong masculine overtones. Morgan notes that the narrator is male, and he speaks for the entire community. It is different from other stories or novels where different characters play roles during narration. Emily’s community sees her through the lens of art. This lens symbolizes the cage of her confinement. Essentially, art is not capable of creation. Rather, it is entirely subject to the will of the artist. Emily’s society sees her just as an artistic creation and not as a creator or an artist. They impose the unconstructive impact of modernization on her. They believe she is responsible for the erosion of the moral values that she should uphold. At the beginning of the story, the town clearly describes the manner in which they perceive Emily. Faulkner says, “Miss Emily is up to the customs and responsibility of the times.” According to the townspeople, Miss Emily is a “tableau”, “anger” and an “idol” in a stained glass church window.
The most vivid example of the townspeople’s perception of Miss Emily entails how they describe her and her father in the setting of the montage. A montage is thought of as a picture, but it can also refer to a portrait. In most cases, portraits or paintings have the subject immortalized in one particular attitude. According to the people of the town, Emily was allowed to fill, and they grew hostile when she tried to go against their expectations. As described in the story, Emily’s role is one of the customary Southern femininity. She is submissively posed behind her male authority, dressed in virginal white, under the manipulating violence of her father’s aggressive personality. The posing with her father communicates the extent to which Emily’s life revolves around the male authority and exhibits masculine ideology. It tends to create a social world and individual subjects that fulfill the masculine psychic needs in modern society. Therefore, one can say that manly fantasies are estimated outward onto social reality. Miss Emily’s father depicts a natural authoritative role and concurrently represents the position that ought to be played by the male in his society.
Subsequently, Faulkner informs the reader that the entire community attended Emily’s burial. There was darkness regarding the life of Emily. No one in the neighborhood knew of her marriage and seclusion. In fact, she died at the age of 74 in absurd loneliness. Her way of life was a real puzzle to the townspeople. Emily’s father, like today’s fathers, was so strict and possessive that he kept turning away Emily’s suitors. He was the main reason Emily died alone. By the time Emily’s father died, Emily had no suitor. The age regarded women by their role as a mother, someone’s daughter, or a submissive wife. For this reason, the entire community felt so bad for Emily because she had not been married. In the same way, modern society views women as potential mothers and wives. As much as they contend against male dominion, their place in the society remains conspicuous. When Emily’s father died, the government exempted Emily from paying town taxes. It was out of the respect the country had for Emily’s well-known and regarded father.
Faulkner further describes the kind of transformation Emily started exhibiting. Even though she rarely left her house, members of her community could frequently see her. In his story, Faulkner gives a description of Emily-sighting that happened when her father died. He says “The next time she is seen, she had transformed. Her hair was sort. In fact, she had a teenage look that had resemblance to the color of the church windows.” It makes readers sympathize with Emily. The section where Miss Emily encounters the construction team further illustrates the influence of time on Faulkner’s writing. Homer’s character is disreputable. As Faulkner describes him in his story, Homer was never meant to marry. It poses a question whether Faulkner’s reference implies that Homer is a homosexual or rather a man who is just not meant for settling down with a wife. When the community started seeing Emily and Homer frequently, spending most of their time together, the town expressed their dislike towards the union. Despite Emily’s bankrupt state, she was still revered with her outmoded Southern expectations. In the contemporary view, Homer was not suitable, by most standards, for Emily because he was a working class while Emily was not. As typical of modern society, the relationship between Emily and Homer was regarded as scandalous. In many relationships today, the first talk people make during dating concerns marriage. The townspeople consider the relationship between Emily and Homer as scandalous. They dated without a talk about marriage. They seemed not to have a vision for their love. When Homer stayed for a long time without expressing marriage interest towards his lover, Emily started feeling insecure and suspecting that Homer was in a mission to use and leave her. Eventually, she managed to kill him.
The discussion elaborates on how time did influence Faulkner’s work. In essence, modernism was the age that did endure massive evolution. Society let go of the primitive lifestyle. They embraced the contemporary manner of living. As a result, women became vocal. Miss. Emily is a single woman. She lives a lonely life. In fact, her neighbors have very information regarding her lifestyle. She dies without the communal support that did characterize the past ages. Modernization enhances independence. The communal life also began to cease. Miss Emily is a perfect character that enhances Faulkner’s view of modernity. It is evident that the age did influence his view of women and society as a whole.