The first time I hear about the novel A rose for Emily, I misunderstood that it is a love story just like the famous Romeo and Juliet. After reading its Chinese version, I realize that it’s far from a love story, but a Gothic horror tale, as some readers put it.
Totally speaking, A rose for Emily is a short novel which describes a faded southern aristocrat, Emily Grierson’s tragic life via an unnamed narrator. It tells us seven impressive anecdotes to Emily’s life with an intelligent use of flashbacks.
The first part is the death of Emily’s father. When her father dies, nothing but the house is left to Emily. Due to his father, who has driven away all the young pursuers, Emily remains single even in her thirties. This part describes an important background —— Emily never tastes the sweetness of love before.
The second part is Emily’s miserable relationship. She falls in love with a foreman named Homer Barron, a dark, ready man, who has no interest in marriage. After the construction, Homer leaves the town and never show up again. This part foreshadow the tragedy in the end, but at present, I simply guess that the man deserts Emily.
The third is the poison. Emily is witnessed buying arsenic trioxide for mice, in her own words, but not only the people but I mistake that she wants to suicide. This part is also a hint.
The forth is “the smell”. After her father’s death and heart-broken love, she only has a manservant. So her house smells bad. Her neighbors complain about it. In the end, they solve it by sprinkling lime around her house. Frankly speaking, the first time I read here, I’m quite confused about the role of this part.
The fifth part is Emily’s teaching life. She gives lessons in china-painting several years and then closes her front forever. This part is short, but it represents the total positive isolation of Emily with the outside.
The sixth is the confrontation between Emily and the deputation. The young generation is dissatisfied with the edict of remitting her taxes. They send a deputation, even call at the house to negotiate this problem, but end up with failure. This part shows the stubborn and bigotry of Emily in her elderly.
The last part is Emily’s funeral and the discovery of the dead. This part is the climax of the novel, and reveals all the hints before. Not until I finish here and then return back for the hints can I understand the whole story.
In the class, we talked about the identity of the dead, the relationship between Emily and her father and the real murder. At last, several versions are found. But I think some studies over interpret the novel. Just based on a logical plot, the novel is already an excellent story in my opinion. Throughout Emily’s life, her best time is strictly restrained by her father, who stubbornly insists that nobody int the town has a corresponding background to marry his daughter. Therefore, when her father dies, Emily loses her only rely and is too scared to let her father go. The appearance of Homer Barron is the life-saving straw. From Homer, Emily can not only enjoy the beauty of love, but also regain the sense of security. However, Homer has no interest in marriage, which means that the departure is inevitable. To keep her love, Emily goes to the extreme —— to kill him. And then everything makes sense, the smell, the isolation from the outside, even the rigidness towards the government.
Emily has been wearing the halo of declining aristocracy all her life. Everything she does is the entertainment news that the ordinary people in the town enjoy talking about. Her body is not dead, but her heart has died decades ago. I think she’s merely a breathing zombie. Spring love can’t change her fate. When her lover has no intend to marry, she keeps him with arsenic. From then on, he would never leave her, even at the cost of not going out again, she was willing. The civilians in the small towns outside had nothing to do with her. Every night she may sleep with her corpse for many years. I wonder if Miss Emily was happy or sad.
Although I know Emily is a murder, but I would mourn her rather than blame her. By the way, I prefer the translation 《致悼艾米丽的玫瑰》 about the title. Although the word ‘rose’ never shows up in the article, but I hope there are always roses in front of her gravestone, to mourn Emily, a pathetic sacrifice of traditional consensus.