A Rose for Emily is the remarkable story of Emily Grierson, whose death and funeral drew the attention of the entire town. The unnamed narrator, whom some people consider as the town or at least a representative voice from it, relates key moments in Emilys life, including the death of her father and her brief fling with a Yankee. Beyond the literal level of Emilys narrative, the story is sometimes regarded as symbolic changes in the South after the civil war. Miss Emily’s house symbols neglect in “A Rose for Emily”. The storys opening with Miss Emily Griersons death and funeral foreshadows the nding.
The outcome is further emphasized by the symbolism of the decaying house, which parallels Miss Emily’s physical deterioration and demonstrates her mental decline. Her life, like the decaying house, suffers from lack of genuine love and care. The characteristics of Miss Emily’s house, like her physical appearance, are brought about by years of neglect. For example, the house is located in what was once a prominent neighborhood that has deteriorated. Originally white and decorated in “the heavily lightsome style” of an earlier time, the house has become “an eyesore among eyesores”.
Through lack of attention, the house has deteriorated from a beautiful estate, to an ugly uninviting shack. Similarly, Miss Emily has also become an eyesore. For example, she is first described as a “fallen monument” to suggest her former grandeur and her later ugliness. Like the house, she has lost her beauty. Once she had been a beautiful woman, who later became obese and bloated. Both house and occupant have suffered the ravages of time and neglect. The interior of the house also resembles Miss Emily’s increasing degeneration and the growing sense of sadness that accompanies such decay.
Initially, all that can be seen of the inside of the house is a dim hall where a staircase is mounted into still more shadow, with the house smelling of dust and disuse. The darkness and smell of the house connect with Miss Emily, like her voice that is dry and cold as if it were dark and dusty from disuse like the house. The similarity between the inside of the house and Miss Emily extends to the mantel, with the portrait of her father and Miss Emily sitting there. Inside and out, both the building and the body in which Miss Emily live are in a state of deterioration like tarnished metal.
Finally, the townspeople’s descriptions of both house and occupant reveal a common unattractive style. At one point the house is described as stubborn, as if it were ignoring the surrounding decay. Similarly, Miss Emily proudly overlooks the deterioration of her once-grand residence. These lies continue as she denies her father’s death, refuses to discuss or pay taxes, ignores town gossip about her being a fallen woman, and does not tell the druggist why she is purchasing arsenic.
Both the house and Miss Emily become traps for a representative of the twentieth century, which is Homer Barron, laborer, outsider, and confirmed bachelor. Just as the house seems to reject progress and updating, so does Miss Emily, until both of them become decaying symbols of their dying generation. Through descriptions of the house that resemble descriptions of Mss Emily Grierson, A Rose for Emily emphasizes the way that beauty and elegance can become distorted through neglect and lack of love. In this story, the house deteriorates for forty years until it becomes ugly and Miss Emilys physical and emotional condition deteriorates in a similar manner.