Who Makes a Devil out of a Fair Lady? —An Analysis of the Social Causes of Emily’s Tragedy in A Rose for Emily

Fang DU


William Faulkner (1897—1962) is now regarded as the greatest American novelist of the twentieth century.“ A Rose for Emily” was his first published short story in 1930. It depicts Emily Grierson, a noble old spinster, who falls in love with a Yankee, Homer, and later kills him and has slept with the dead body for forty years. Since then, Emily isolates herself from the outside world and lives lonely in her house until her death. Since its publication, “A Rose for Emily” has enjoyed great attention due to its adroit plot and impressive character, so that the readers merely view it as a Gothic novel. They are impressed and horrified by the gloomy atmosphere as well as the grotesque behavior of Emily. However, this story cannot be read merely as a detective story so as to overlook the profound meaning behind it. Emily’s killing of Homer is not due to her blood-thirsty nature, rather it is the result of the southern society. After analysizing the social causes of Emily’s tragic change from a lady into a devil, eventually the paper comes to a conclusion that Emily’s degradation is a series of consequence of the southern social system: patriarchal chauvinism, puritan womanhood, conflict between community and individual. In fact, she is the victim of the southern tradition and culture. Through this kind of study, the reader can get a further understanding of the then American south and Faulkner’s intention to write such a horrifying short story.
Key words: social causes, patriarchal chauvinism, puritan womanhood, sense of community, individualism
Résumé: William Faulkner(1897-1962) est considéré aujourd’hui comme le romancier américain le plus connu du 20e siècle. Une Rose pour Emily est sa première nouvelle publiée en 1930. Ce livre décrit Emily Grierson, une vieille fille, qui tombe amoureux d’un Yankee, Homer, et le tue après pour dormir avec le cadavre pour 40 ans. Dès lors, elle s’isole du monde extérieur et vit solitairement dans sa maison jusqu’à la mort. Depuis sa publication, Une Rose pour Emily attirent beaucoup d’attention grâce à son intrigue habile et son caractère impressif, de sorte que les lecteurs le considèrent seulement comme une nouvelle gothique. Ils sont impressionnés et horrifiés par l’atmosphère sombre et le comportement grotesque d’Emily. Néanmoins, cette nouvelle ne peut nuellement être lue comme une histoire policière et on ne peut pas négliger sa signification profonde. Le meurtre d’Emily n’est pas dû à sa nature sanguinaire, il est plutôt le résultat de la socité du sud. Après l’analyse des causes sociales de la tragédie d’Emily transformant d’une demoiselle en monstre, l’article parvient à la conclusion que la dégradation d’Emily est la conséquence du système social du sud : le chauvinisme patriarcal, la condition féminine puritaine, le conflit entre la communauté et l’individu. En fait, elle est la victime de la tradition et la culture du sud. A travers cette étude, le lecteur peut avoir une meilleure connaissance du sud des Etats-Nnis d’alors et de l’intention de Faulker d’écrire une telle nouvelle horrible.
Mots-Clés: causes sociales, chauvinisme patriarcal, condition féminine puritaine, sens de communauté, individualisme

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/j.css.1923669720070304.004


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