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Symbolism in A Rose for Emily

Symbolism is an important literary element in nearly every great piece of American Literature. Paper Masters will custom write a research paper on symbolism in A Rose for Emily and explain the most important parts of the story that William Faulkner reveals through symbolism.

William Faulkner’s short storyA Rose for Emily” contains several instances of symbolism. The house, the dust and the single gray hair are all symbolic of

  1. Cultural decay
  2. Death
  3. Fierce independenceA Rose for Emily Symbolism

Much of Faulkner’s work deals with the dying South. Many of his stories are set in the fictional Mississippi town of Jefferson and relate the dying Southern culture of the 19th century. Miss Emily, and in particular her house, are a part of that dying tradition. Faulkner describes the house like a tomb, one frozen in time with “coquettish decay.”

Theme in a A Rose for Emily

Second, the theme of dust pervades the story. Faulkner not only describes the men of the town sprinkling lime dust around the property in order to mask the mysterious odor, but the image is laid of a house becoming overtaken with dust. The house is “filled with dust and shadows” and the upstairs bedroom, when the door is broken down, is filled with “pervading dust.” Dust not only represents death, but also provides further symbolism of a culture that can only be preserved like an abandoned museum.

A Rose for Emily - Frozen in Time

Finally, there is the gray hair. Miss Emily’s hair is described as going iron-grey and remaining unchanging, as if she wished to be frozen in a moment of time. The single gray hair on the pillow speaks to the determination of this woman to freeze a moment of embrace with her lover.

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