Gothic Elements in William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily

Gothic elements in any literary work represent the intricate literature that specifically deals with the mysterious, unusual, and supernatural. Writers often deploy gothic elements in a bid to reveal popular themes and motifs such as hidden truths, death, complicated love, eroticism, and creepy characters among others. In a “Rose for Emily”, William Faulkner presents the story of an aristocrat who dies thereby bequeathing his home to his daughter, Emily. Due to the ensuing loneliness, Emily looks for a suitor and finds one in Baron Homer. The story unfolds when Emily finds out that Homer is not ready to marry and decides to do all she can to keep her suitor from leaving her. Using gothic elements, the author presents a story about a decaying social structure and the great extent of human-perpetrated horrors. In this story, Faulkner employs several gothic elements including the decayed corpse, the imposing decrepit house, and the secret horrors that are subject to Emily’s suspicious house. All these gothic elements contribute to the plot’s development by creating a certain kind of atmosphere.

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When the story begins, the readers are introduced to the dominant gothic element in the form of Emily’s dilapidated house. The house is described as a square frame with a faded exterior. This description paints the picture of a haunted house whose lack of maintenance accentuates a ghoulish unsightly establishment. The element of an imposing decrepit house is further supported by the author’s claim that there has not been any visitor in Emily’s house for a long time. The readers are immediately intimated to the gloom, solitude, and decay surrounding the main character.

Even the interior of the house is not different from the exterior as it features paintings that are covered in dust and leather that is cracking due to old age and lack of maintenance. The abandonment theme that surrounds the house also applies to Emily and her life. Emily had been left alone by his father, who had contributed to her loneliness by chasing off the men who had sought her hand in marriage. The theme of desertion also takes shape when Emily realizes that Homer, the man she loved, would soon desert her too. Emily’s abandonment contributes to the plot’s climax when she is later living in the same house with a corpse. The gothic placements of both the decrepit house and later the decaying corpse create an eerie atmosphere, which is continued from the beginning to the end of the story.

The mysterious secret horrors that are connected to Emily are also another gothic element that stretches Faulkner’s plot. Eventually, the plot of this story unfolds similarly to that of a horror film. For instance, there is an element of horror that is closely connected to Emily’s house. Some of these elements include the stark contrast of Emily’s life about what is considered a normal social life. The story describes in sordid details the strong smell that emanates from the direction of Emily’s house. While these mysterious events are unfolding, the audience can see Emily as a mysterious and shadowy figure staring through the window. The gothic element of Emily’s mysterious life is crucial to the story’s plot. For instance, all other plot elements revolve around Emily’s mysteries. Without these mysteries, the story lacks its imposing gloomy atmosphere. Emily is the epitome of gloom in the story as she lacks the feel of a normal human being.

The decayed corpse is a hallmark of the story because it creates a form of prevailing drama that develops the plot to unprecedented heights. Furthermore, corpse creates an atmosphere of fear and disbelief. Even though the gothic corpse is an incredible placement for the reader, the author does not stop here and he demonstrates how the main character not only poisoned her suitor but also retained his decaying body. The fact that Emily has stayed with the corpse for quite a long time underlines the plot with the gloomy nature of the main character. These developments are also a continuation of the plot with Emily’s father. Emily had a controlling father and she also shows the same tendencies by restraining Homer. In the story, Mr. Grierson was a gloomy character who did little to improve Emily’s life. Similarly, Emily imitates her father’s atmosphere by living with a corpse. The decayed corpse highlights a running theme in the story’s plot and sets off an enduring atmosphere in the entire story.

The gothic elements of the imposing decrepit house, the main character’s mysterious secrets, and the decaying corpse are all vital parts of Faulkner’s story. The gothic placements maintain a certain continuity throughout the story and also help Faulkner to convey some timely plot developments. They also carry with them the factors of destitution, social deviation, control, and resistance to change. In “A Rose for Emily”, the plot and the general atmosphere of the story would be incomplete without Faulkner’s gothic elements.

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StudyCorgi. (2020, October 29). Gothic Elements in William Faulkner's A Rose for Emily. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/gothic-elements-in-william-faulkners-a-rose-for-emily/

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"Gothic Elements in William Faulkner's A Rose for Emily." StudyCorgi, 29 Oct. 2020, studycorgi.com/gothic-elements-in-william-faulkners-a-rose-for-emily/.

1. StudyCorgi. "Gothic Elements in William Faulkner's A Rose for Emily." October 29, 2020. https://studycorgi.com/gothic-elements-in-william-faulkners-a-rose-for-emily/.


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StudyCorgi. "Gothic Elements in William Faulkner's A Rose for Emily." October 29, 2020. https://studycorgi.com/gothic-elements-in-william-faulkners-a-rose-for-emily/.

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StudyCorgi. 2020. "Gothic Elements in William Faulkner's A Rose for Emily." October 29, 2020. https://studycorgi.com/gothic-elements-in-william-faulkners-a-rose-for-emily/.

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StudyCorgi. (2020) 'Gothic Elements in William Faulkner's A Rose for Emily'. 29 October.

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