Below you will find five outstanding thesis statements for “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner that can be used as essay starters or paper topics. All five incorporate at least one of the major themes in “A Rose for Emily” and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements offer a short summary of “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner in terms of different elements that could be important in an essay. You are, of course, free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them for your essay. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from “A Rose for Emily” at the bottom of the page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent essay.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1: Diagnosing Miss Emily in “A Rose for Emily”
Miss Emily Grierson, the title character in the story “A Rose for Emily,” is certainly a bizarre character. Withdrawn from society, trapped in a world of delusions, Emily never receives any psychiatric treatment, but she definitely exhibits symptoms indicative of mental illness. By examining Emily’s behavior and her social relationships, it is possible to diagnose Emily with a mental illness. Although her community never thought Emily was “crazy,” she was indeed a very ill person. If you're having trouble identifying signs of mental illness in Miss Emily, this psychological character analysis of Emily will be quite helpful.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2: The Role of Community in “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner
In “A Rose for Miss Emily,” the entire community conspires—albeit unconsciously—to protect both Miss Emily and the small town from the shame and stigma of Miss Emily’s illness and idiosyncratic behavior. By examining the different behaviors and statements of the members of the community, the reasons for their denial will be identified and analyzed. It will be argued that the community is highly invested in protecting their identity as an upstanding, traditional Southern community. Even though their behavior is dysfunctional, it is adaptive for their purposes.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: The Importance of Physical Place in “A Rose for Emily”
There is the macrocosmic setting of the South that lends a sense of place, both physical and psychological, to “A Rose for Emily,” as well as the microcosmic setting of the house in which Emily has spent most of her adult life in bed with the corpse of her fiance. Both places are critical and are used to reinforce the psychological landscape of the story. By examining both of these settings—the macrocosmic and the microcosmic—the writer will explain how physical place contextualizes and emphasizes psychological place.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4: The Effect of the Omniscient, Anonymous Narrator in “A Rose for Emily”
One of the interesting techniques that Faulkner used to develop “A Rose for Emily” was his use of an unnamed narrator whose relationship to Emily and whose role in the life of the town is somewhat ambiguous. Still, the reader cannot help but be struck by the way in which the narrator tells the story of the strange Miss Emily, constantly using the word “we” to describe the feelings of the townspeople and their suspicions of Miss Emily. In this essay, the effect of this narrative style will be examined through close textual analysis.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic # 5: The Role of “The Negro” in “A Rose for Emily
One of the only townspeople to have contact with Miss Emily during her years of isolation is an older African American man who never speaks but who nonetheless plays a critical role in the development of the story. Though he is asked what happens inside the house, he never discloses any of Miss Emily’s private behavior, despite its eccentricity. The writer will analyze the character of the Negro, who is unnamed, and the importance that he has in the story’s development. The writer will also speculate on the reasons for his secrecy.
For more a more extensive understanding of a few of these themes in “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner, check out the helpful articles A Psychological Character Analysis of Faulkner's Miss Emily and Comparison of Themes in “A Rose for Emily” “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “Sweat”
This list of important quotations from “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner will help you work with the essay topics and thesis statements above by allowing you to support your claims. All of the important quotes from Faulkner's “A Rose for Emily” listed here correspond, at least in some way, to the paper topics above and by themselves can give you great ideas for an essay by offering quotes and explanations about other themes, symbols, imagery, and motifs than those already mentioned and explained. Aside from the thesis statements for “A Rose for Emily” above, these quotes alone can act as essay questions or study questions as they are all relevant to the text in an important way. All quotes contain page numbers as well. Look at the bottom of the page to identify which edition of the text they are referring to.
“Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town….” (47)
“I’d be the last one in the world to bother Miss Emily….” (50)
“Dammit, sir…will you accuse a lady to her face of smelling bad ” (51)
“The day after [her father’s] death, all the ladies prepared to call at the house and offer condolence and aid, as is our custom. Miss Emily met them at the door,… with no trace of grief on her face. She told them that her father was not dead. She did that for three days…. ” (52)
“We did not say she was crazy then. We believed she had to do that.” (52)
“She carried her head high enough—even when we believed that she was fallen.” (53)
“[T]he law requires you tell what you are going to use [the arsenic] for. Miss Emily just stared at him, her head tilted back in order to look him eye for eye, until he looked away and went and got the arsenic and wrapped it up.” (54)
“So the next day we all said, ‘She will kill herself’ and we said it would be the best thing.” (55)
“Thus she passed from generation to generation—dear, inescapable, impervious, tranquil, and perverse.” (57)
“The Negro met the first of the ladies at the front door and let them in… and then he disappeared. He walked right through the house and out the back and was not seen again.” (58)
Reference: Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily.” Selected Short Stories. New York: Modern Library, 1993.
Example of a Literary Analysis essay on Literature about:
william faulkner / a rose for emily / lover / love
The interpretation of the message of William Faulkner’s “ A Rose for Emily”.
Why is William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” considered to be a shocking literary masterpiece?
Why does William Faulkner use flashbacks to reinforce the message of the novel?
How is the question of morality brought up within the story?
The author leads the reader to the understanding that one misfortune (Emily’s father controlling her private life) supported by another big one (Homer leaving Emily alone) may lead to “irreparable damage” to the morality of a person.
A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner
Introduction: William Faulkner’s works are stories that reveal the depth of a human soul and its torments. "A Rose for Emily" is a story with a plot that astonishes the reader and awakens the mind’s thirst for thinking. As every plot it is a complete slave of the master’s imagination and point of view, "A Rose for Emily" lives under the laws that are set by William Faulkner himself. Miss Emily Grierson is the main character of the story. Throughout the whole story the narrator tries to deliver his message with the means of flashbacking that makes the narrator’s position clearer for the reader. The plot is structured in a definite interesting way in order to emphasize certain moments and open logical consequences corresponding to the author’s view of the story. The author leads the reader to the understanding that one misfortune (Emily’s father controlling her private life) supported by another big one (Homer leaving Emily alone) may lead to “irreparable damage” to the morality of a person.
The headwaters of this damage may be observed in the public opinion and the incapability of a person to build any relationship due to the isolation: “None of the young men were quite good enough for Miss Emily“[Faulkner, Section II].The development of the plot has a lot to do with the author’s belief that a person that has not got enough love may even be dangerous. The author shows that love is the most valuable thing a person might get. Primarily to this fact, Faulkner does not show the room where Emily’s lover is “now in the long sleep that out lasts love”[Faulkner, Section IV]. Such a position makes the narrator start his story from the point of Miss Emily’s death as a culmination of the whole story and the culmination of the event that the reader is about to get acquainted with. The “threads” of the past and the future cross in the present time in “A Rose for Emily”. The narrator shows how Emily’s inability to communicate caused her to lose the love of her life and commit an awful crime.The discovery of the room is left till the very end so that the reader would understand that after all nothing is more valuable then love in the life of every person. And at the end all that is left after all this love is a “profound and fleshless grin”[Faulkner, Section V].
Conclusion: Seeing all the sides of Emily’s life with the eyes of strangers helps the narrator to intensify what was going on in reality, showing how little people know and understand each other. The story is not given to the reader in the correct chronological order, nevertheless owing to this specific structure the narrator’s attitude to the value of the past is revealed. Owing to it the narrator contrasts the relief of the people in the beginning of the story with the constant judging in the middle and with the attempt to understand Emily at the end. This plot development makes a perfect base for the narrator’s message. In other words if William Faulkner could say it in couple of words they would have been: “Lack of love and attention may be lethal”.