Stylistic Devices in Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" | Free Essay Example

Stylistic Devices in Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily”

Words: 1209
Topic: Literature


Literature has always been an integral part of human society. It helped people to express their feelings and emotions and share thoughts that seem very important to them. That is why, since the beginning of the history of the mankind, authors tried to create some special and unique approach in order to create the artwork that could be able to impress a reader and create the needed atmosphere. This desire enriched the world literature with the great number of various stylistic devices and ways to express feelings and emotions.

However, authors had never stopped and continued their experiments with the language of their works and plot (“Fabula and Sjuzhet” para. 1). Thus, speaking about the peculiarities of the contexture of various fiction works or books, it is possible to analyze the short story A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner in order to understand the way in which the author could use various stylistic devices and combine them with the untraditional development of action.


First of all, it should be said that in the modern literature Faulkner is taken as the author that managed to create very detailed and interesting atmosphere with the help of various methods. He preferred to use various stylistic devices and expressive means for readers to be able to submerge into the atmosphere and feel the smallest elements of the plot (“Faulkner’s Literary Themes” para. 5).

That is why, the majority of Faulkners works could be taken as very thought through and atmospheric. Moreover, sometimes one event could serve as the basis for the whole plot, however, it does not make the work less interesting and readers follow the main characters in order to realize their motifs and ideas (Lowe para. 3). A Rose for Emily is not an exception. It is a typical short story which has all aspects peculiar to this genre. However, there are still some differences.


The story revolves around the life of a community of a small town which could not be called eventful. It is a typical provincial town where people know each other and the event which happens to one of them is discussed by the whole community. The given setting serves as the main tool that helps to make readers realize the atmosphere. Nevertheless, one day Emily, who “had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town” (Faulkner para. 3), died.

However, it is not the common event as her life was quite unusual and even mysterious. She has lived in her house for all her life, refusing new customs and preserving the distance between her and community. She was going to marry, however, her fiance disappeared after Emily had bought arsenic at the drugstore. That is why, her life is taken as mysterious by people who live in the town. However, her death introduces a new quest as the corpse of Emilys fiance was found in the bed with the lock of her grey hair near him.

Main themes

Analyzing the plot, it is possible to say that the author introduces several important themes which he wants to discuss with his readers. The first obvious topic is the isolation and loneliness. Describing Emilys life Faulkner says “after her father’s death she went out very little; after her sweetheart went away, people hardly saw her at all” (Faulkner para. 16). Resting on these words, it is possible to say that her house also obtains the symbolic meaning and could be taken as the prison where Emily had to spend all her life. Additionally, the author also touches the issue of death and its power (“Theme of Death in William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily” para. 2). Emily does not want to accept her beloved mans death, saving his body and spending time with it. Moreover, she could also be taken as the symbol of the deaths triumph as being the symbol of a town she also dies.

Order of events and flashbacks

That is why, it is not accidentally that the author starts the whole story with Emilys death. The town discusses this event, cogitating about her life and remembering the most important and strange moments of Emilys life. A reader realizes that the author introduces the plot in the order which is needed to understand his idea better.

It is not started with the past of the old lady, however, a reader gets to know about it after the recognitions of Emilys death. The given manner of presentation has several purposes. First of all, it helps a reader to read parts devoted the main characters past with great attention in order to realize why her death was so important for the story. Besides, the author also wants to underline the importance of the issue of death for the given story (“William Faulkner” para. 8).


Being the main character, Emily helps to introduce these themes and cogitate about them. Faulkner gives a great deal of attention to this old lady, describing her life and manners “a small, fat woman in black, with a thin gold chain descending to her waist and vanishing into her belt, leaning on an ebony cane with a tarnished gold head” (Faulkner para. 6).

However, the appearance of the lady is not very important as it does not play a significant role in the story. Besides, the peculiarities of her character are given much more attention. She does not accept her fathers death, not allowing people to take his body off. Moreover, she does not accept reality, refusing to pay taxes and accept the idea that something has changed in her life. All these peculiarities help to feel the atmosphere of the story and understand her behavior better.


It should be said that describing Emilys past, Faulkner uses such tool as foreshadowing for a reader to be able to understand the impending doom of the main character. The first obvious example is the smell. The author uses it several times “It smelled of dust and disuse–a close, dank smell” (Faulkner para. 5), ” They were not surprised when the smell developed” (Faulkner para. 17). It could be taken as the sign of the death and isolation and the author wants to underline it. Another example is Emilys refusal to give her fathers corpse to people. One can realize this event as the sign of the beginning of her problems which continued and became known when people discovered her fiances corpse in her bed.


With this in mind, it is possible to make a certain conclusion. It should be said that Faulkner manages to create an outstanding short story which has a great impact on readers. Introducing events in a certain order, the author helps people to follow his thoughts and understand all important aspects of the given story. Several cases of foreshadowing also make the story more atmospheric, thought through.


Fabula and Sjuzhet. n.d. Web.

Faulkner’s Literary Themes. n.d. Web.

Faulkner, William. A Rose for Emily. 1930. Web.

Lowe, John. William Faulkner (1897-1962). n.d. Web.

Theme of Death in William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily. n.d. Web.

William Faulkner. n.d. Web.