Southern Gothicism: Faulkner's Horrors In More Ways Than One

1803 Words8 Pages

Macy Hemphill
Ms. Tucker
ENGL 102-018
Essay 3
22 January 2023
Southern Gothicism: Faulkner’s Horrors in More Ways than One
Southern gothic literature, by definition, is gothic literature rooted in the tensions and aberrations of the South. A unique twist on horror, southern gothicism includes criticism of the South, primarily in the late 19th century. One of the most widely known authors of southern gothic, William Faulkner published “A Rose for Emily” in 1930, and it has become one of the best examples of southern gothicism in Faulkner’s works. Faulkner both criticizes the old south and creates a reality of horror in “A Rose for Emily.” An examination of Southern gothic elements in “A Rose for Emily” will reveal how Faulkner creates horror …show more content…

Bjerre touches on the topic, stating that the “Southern Gothic brings to light the extent to which the idyllic vision of the South… which rests on massive repressions of the region’s historical realities: slavery, racism, and patriarchy” (Bjerre). In addition to the representation of the misfits of Southern society, Faulkner also references the damages of the patriarchy to Emily Grierson’s life. It was her father’s intentions that a suitor was never good enough for Emily, thus leaving her alone with no suitors in a decaying home that promoted the plot. The narrator stated, “We remembered all the young men her father had driven away, and we knew that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will” (298). The death of Emily’s father left her alone, and began the decline of her mental state. Without the comfort of her father, Faulkner uses the death of Mr. Grierson as a starting point in the deterioration of Emily’s hold on reality. Emily’s development at this point in her life seems to be stunted by that traumatic event, with a crayon portrait of her father being in the home at the time of her funeral. Faulkner specifically stating that the portrait was in crayon examines the conclusion that Emily believed herself to still be a young girl who did not advance, mentally and emotionally, past that point in her life. This portrayal of a childlike mental state adds to the horror of the entire story, providing the reader with a perspective that Emily was so deluded in her reality that she childishly believed herself to live in the past. Faulkner’s criticism is supported by elements of Southern Gothic literature. Faulkner confronts the issue of both a New South versus an Old South and the patriarchal society of the Old South, using these elements to not only capture the essence of Southern Gothicism but

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