The Strange Miss Emily

There is always one person in the neighborhood or in society that is very strange according to the way they act and the things that they do. In the short story, A Rose For Emily, by William Faulkner, Miss Emily Grierson is a very unusual person.

She may have seemed extremely determined and been very artistic, but Miss Emily, because of her extreme isolation became mentally ill. Miss Emily, through her interactions with the government and townspeople, proved to be a very determined woman. Miss Emily refused to pay taxes in the town of Jefferson. This refusal led to a meeting held in her house with the Board of Alderman. She informed them Colonel Sartoris, “[who] had been dead for almost ten years”, told her she did not have to pay taxes (306).

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Every time they would ask her or tell her something she would reply, “I have no taxes in Jefferson,” until finally she got upset and told Tobe to “show [the] gentlemen out” (306). Miss Emily proves again that she will get what she wants when she goes to get some poison from the drug store. Although the law requires it, Miss Emily refuses to tell what she is going to use the poison for. She “just stare[s] at him [with] her head tilted back in order to look him eye for eye, until he look[s] away” (310). He very quickly got the arsenic and wrapped it up for her. Miss Emily was going to do anything to get what she wanted and nothing was going to get in her way.

Miss Emily’s house and the things in her house were described to be very fancy and artsy. This statement leads to an inference that the author, William Faulkner, was characterizing Emily to be artistic. Her house sat on the “most select street” and decorated with “cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in heavily lightsome style of the seventies” (304). Inside her house were paintings and “a tarnished gilt easel before the fireplace stood a crayon portrait of Miss Emily’s father” (306). Miss Emily had to be artistic if she also “[gave] china-painting lessons eight or ten years” before she became ill.

She buys Homer fancy things like “a man’s toilet set in silver, with the letters H. B. on each piece” (311). She also picks out a “complete outfit of men’s clothing” (311). Miss Emily seems to know much about fashion and proves to be very artistic throughout this story. Faulkner, throughout this short story gives us the impression that Miss Emily is very lonely which leads her to be mentally ill.

Her house is the “only . . . house left” on the street and “after her fathers death she went out very little” (304, 307). “People hardly saw her at all” and she was “still single” when she was thirty (307, 308).

Her father made her loneliness worse because he had driven “all the young men . . . away” and she could not go out with a boy (309). Her family in Alabama had also abandoned her because “her father had fallen out with them over the estate of old lady Wyatt and there was no communication between the families” (310).

All of these things lead Miss Emily to go crazy and become mental. Miss Emily did not want to give up her father’s dead body. For three days “she told them that her father was not dead” (308). She did not want to believe it, but “just as they were about to resort to law and force, she broke down, and they buried her father quickly” (308). In her head, he was not dead and she wanted to keep him close to her in the house because she was lonely. At the end of the story, the townspeople found a body in Miss Emily’s bed.

The body belonged to Homer Barron and “what was left of him, rotted beneath what was left of the nightshirt” (315). He was lying on one side of the bed and on the other side they “noticed that in the second pillow was the indentation of a head . . . [and] a long strand of iron-gray hair” (315).

Miss Emily did not want Homer to leave her alone so she basically poisoned him, killed him, and kept his dead body in her bed and slept with it. She was a very isolated and lonely person and this lead to her becoming mentally ill. Some people are strange because they are greatly influenced by others, and others are just strange for whatever reasons. Miss Emily was strange because her father basically controlled her life and took everything from her. When Emily grew up to be an adult, she could not learn to let go of things and that made her ill. Despite the mental issues and being very lonely, she was very determined and artistic.