Characterization refers to the techniques a writer uses to develop characters. In the story A Rose for Emily William Faulkner uses characterization to reveal the character of Miss Emily. He expresses the content of her character through physical description, through her actions, words, and feelings, through a narrator’s direct comments about the character’s nature, and through the actions, words, and feelings, of other characters. Faulkner best uses characterization to examine the theme of the story, too much pride can end in homicidal madness.
Miss Emily, the main character of this story, lives for many years as a recluse, someone who has withdrawn from a community to live in seclusion. “No visitor had passed since she ceased giving china-painting lessons eight or ten years earlier” (394). Faulkner characterizes Miss Emily’s attempt to remove herself from society through her actions. “After her father’s death she went out very little; after her sweetheart went away, people hardly saw her at all” (395). The death of her father and the shattered relationship with her sweetheart contributed to her seclusion.
Though her father was responsible for her becoming a recluse, her pride also contributed to her seclusion. “None of the young men were quite good enough for Miss Emily and such” (395). Faulkner uses the feelings of other characters to show Miss Emily’s pride. Her pride has kept her from socializing with other members of the community thus reinforcing her solitary. But Miss Emily’s father is still responsible for her being a hermit. “We remembered all the young men her father had driven away…” (396). If he had not refuse the men who wanted to go out with Miss Emily, she may have not gone crazy.
Miss Emily may have wanted seclusion, but her heart lingered for companionship. Her desire for love and companionship drove her to murder Homer Baron. She knew her intentions when she bought the arsenic poison. “Then we noticed that in the second pillow was the indentation of a head” (400). Her deepest feelings and hidden longings were lying in the bed. Miss Emily’s pride resulted in the shocking murder of Homer Baron.
Faulkner’s use of characterization to describe Miss Emily and her intentions was triumphant in bring the story to life. Miss Emily’s pride was expressed through her actions, words, and feelings, through a narrator’s direct comments about the character’s nature, and through the actions, words, and feelings, of other characters. Miss Emily’s story constitutes a warning against the sin of pride: heroic isolation pushed too far ends in homicidal madness.