A Struggle for Control in A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner

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Set in the Reconstruction Era, when the South was forced to give up control of their power to the North after the Civil War, William Faulkner’s famous short story, A Rose for Emily, focuses on the human struggle for control, through the life of a southern aristocrat, Miss Emily Grierson. The town watches Miss Emily as she matures from a young girl to a mysterious old recluse. Miss Emily’s struggle can be described in a three part process where Miss Emily has no control of her world, then gains control, and is then finally faced with losing that control. The reader follows Miss Emily’s story from the town’s perspective and later discovers what length Miss Emily is willing to go to in order to maintain her control.
As a younger girl,
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The horsewhip in Miss Emily’s father’s hand stands on its own as another symbol of power and control. Generally, whips are used as a way to overpower and control animals through the frightening cracking sound of the whip. This horsewhip is an indication of Miss Emily’s father’s ability to drive away all of her daughter’s possible suitors as well as to keep Miss Emily in line and in his control.
After the death of her father, Miss Emily finally gains control of her world. Miss Emily is able to dramatically change her appearance after the death of her father, which is clearly noticed by the town when the narrator explains, “When we saw her again, her hair was cut short, making her look like a girl” (4). Miss Emily cutting her hair is a sign that she is finally able to control her physical appearance and break away from her father’s control. Once Miss Emily gains control of herself, she takes things one step forward and begins to take control over the town of Jefferson. It was also suggested by Thomas Dilworth that, “The idealizing of Emily afforded her certain privileges” (Dilworth 254). Miss Emily was given a tax exemption because she was a woman living by herself, and then received the town’s pity as she grew older and older. Taking that one step forward, Miss Emily was able to take and abuse those privileges to gain her control Jefferson. One instance of this is seen when the narrator informs the reader about Miss Emily’s

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