A Rose for Emily embodies the comic cannon of the use of obscenity within the spectrum of culture and time. By recognizing the proper reaction and effect that obscene elements have of the social, cultural understanding of the audience, the foundational consideration should be in making such scenes to be less ambiguous and exhibit less perplexing experiences. This paper establishes the extent to which obscenity should be banned from the existing comic canon. The baseline of this essay is to highlight the need for a regulatory framework for addressing the respect for undisguised and open commentary on social spiritual and cultural experiences from a psychoanalytic perspective.
The legal and semantic nature of challenges and entanglement that characterize obscenity in art and literature characterize the endeavors to define the nature, form and effect of explicit scenes, tone and setting in art. The modification of contours and color and metaphors in accordance with the characterization of the social setting is a manifestation of the use of obscenity in art and literature. On the same paradigm, Claridge (p17) points out that the censorship of obscenity is informed by the need to promote values in the literary and social world bearing in mind that art is a mirror through which the society is reflected. In view of this, the remnants of the society’s Puritan heritage must be emphasized. The implication of this argument draws a picture of a narrow range of understanding obscenity and the mechanisms through which such materials can be suppressed.
A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner espouses the ideals of sexuality by directly catering to the passion and tastes of thousands in the society. According to Ruthmann (p9), it is evident that sex in literature, entertainment and art portends a frequent target of censorship narratives. This is a legal framework that pictures the expression of sexuality as a treatment of pervasion with little or no link to the moral representation.
The exposure of sexuality in A Rose for Emily manifests the anti-social behavior that cannot be the basis for moral education or entertainment. It is on this ground that the question of obscenity in the literary environment should be regulated by law to allow a commentary of the sexual experiences but within the spectrum of moral ground.
The lack of the a legal meaning of obscenity in art and the freedom of expression anchored in literary approach portrays a relatively narrow exemption for obscenity serving as the tool through which novelist, poets, playwrights and other literary critics abuse the social and cultural authorities for misinterpreting the moral angle of sexuality (Loris, p.62). This is illustrated in A Rose for Emily though a demonstration of the gap between Aunty Jenny and Narcissa’s moralities. This is made clearer in a conversation when Aunty Jenny remembers her incidences with inappropriate letters. The ability to preserve the semblance of morality leads to the sacrifice of her dignity and has a sexual intercourse with the federal agent (Faulkner, 21).
The symbolic manifestation of the strand of hair is a remainder of the casual representation of love and how it was lost in the pursuit of happiness. The obscene understanding of this scene is a revelation of the inner life of a woman irrespective of the underlying eccentricities committed to submitting to her behavior based on the approval of others. Faulkner uses Emily to paint a picture of moral guidelines established in the society. She abides by her own code of morality through a representation of the strand of hair that embodies the last vestige of life for decay and languish just like the body of her former lover (Faulkner, 29).
While sexuality captures the intimate connection of humanity to life, it must be constructed on the framework that reflects the personal attitudes, respect, insights, responses and ideals of the author. In view of this, it emerges that the extent to which obscenity must be banned in anchored on the understanding of the social experiences and instead regulated thorough audience access. Regulation can effectively be realized by detaching the work of the artist from the experiences, personalities as well as the intentions of the audiences. A consideration of the authors experience and backgrounds portends progress that virtually ignores the creative as well as artistic endeavors of the artistic. This implies that banning obscenity in wholesale is detrimental to the growth of creativity (Ruthmann, p.11).
The artistic responsibility bordering on morality by the artist begins with a concise consideration of the effect of the obscene materials on the readership. According to Claridge (29), this is the vital connection between the artists and their literary works which must be learned from a response to sensitivity and puritan’s custody. The utilization of obscenity as a commentary on sexuality and sexual experience must be drawn on the basis of discovering deeper emotional and the reelection of the artist's intention in a diverse context that mirrors the society in specific ways.
The characteristic conversation and action of characters in A Rose to Emily allows Faulkner to use the voice of the narrator and inherently capture the anecdote of the life of Emily as observed by the people around her right for her ought to the time of her age. The element of obscenity manifested in the story is established through the use of foreshadowing to allude to the discovery of the town pole that Emily has been living with her dead sweetheart. This imagination reformed the voice of the narrator giving the reader and the extensive audience the ability to makes their assumptions regarding the immoral portrayal of Emily with her dead sweetheart. The emanating foul smell is identified at the end of the story to imply a macabre tone (Faulkner, 31).
Faulkner details the role of the setting to characterize the atmosphere that give the audience a glimpse of the beliefs and values of characters in the society. This technique is effective in drawing the audience motivation and reaction to Emily, as well as the changing mood of the story. According to Loris (29), the tonal context and the characteristic pose adapted in Faulkner art builds on the obscene imagery and mental pictures to portray a visual art that feature the impression, intimation as well as the intention of the story with appropriate responses and maturity. The role of aesthetic and moral factors gives an increased sophistication to the social determination of obscene tendencies in artistic works. This may bring what Claridge (13) calls for the expanded capacity for humanistic and critical appreciation of the authors experiences.
The sexual repression in the story A Rose for Emily portrays the emotional state of the story to represent the decline in social and family values. The illustration of Emily’s father dying after leaving her alone and penniless, makes Emily a victim of circumstances surrounding her and their society through forces of the psychological abnormality of her father and the eventual disfiguration of her emotional state.
The psychoanalytic understanding of the sexual expression littered in the death of Emily’s father is the source of the emotional damage the Faulkner achieves through the obscene one. Loris (21) highlights the decision for Emily to buy arsenic without arousing homicidal suspicion around shapes the trajectory of abnormal tendencies that characterize suicide as an obscene suitor in the story. It follows that Homer Baron abandoned her and the refusal of Judge Stevens to say anything to Emily is an extensive implication of obscenity regulated to depict the experiences of unpleasant nature of life as clearly captured in the illustration below “She will persuade him yet," because Homer himself had remarked – he liked men, and it was known that he drank with the younger men in the Elks' Club – that he was not a marrying man” (Faulkner, p. 41).
The extreme psychosis evident in Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily recounts the life of the strange spinster with detailed but stranded circumstance for life, abnormal relationships with her fathers the control and manipulation of her lover and the life of the townspeople who gossips her as well as her horrible secret. By Faulkner exposing how Emily hid a corpse in the upstairs room, the picture of the horrid stand portends the complexities of regulating artistic approach with critics underscoring the need to allow the readership to be causal.
It is from this perspective that the gruesome ending of the story cultivates the true experiences of life devoid of obscenity. The Rose to Emily demonstrates the best revenge measure that Barron heaped on his friend to express the experiences of treachery, betrayal and strange accounts of life through fictional and real-life version of Faulkner.
The psychological dependency of Emily as an adult is caused by the weaning of her mother from breastfeeding at a tender age. This is the basis for the under indulged characterization of neglect that stimulates the obscene tendency to view life. The outcome of such challenges allow Emily to cling to the manipulative experiences as evidenced in the case of buying arsenic to hold onto Homer as a measure, effort and strategy to satisfying the needs that she missed when she was growing up.
The connection between obscenity and the debate surrounding its banning within the comical cannon presents the dissatisfied pleasure in the life of people in the society. This is manifested in the destructive and messy character of Emily that is exhibited in being stubborn and obstinate as she refused to adapt to the changes in the modern works established in the quote “After her father's death she went out very little; after her sweetheart went away, people hardly saw her at all” (Faulkner, p.21). Emily chooses not to accept the fate of death and holds onto the corpse of his father from years. She later killed Homer in a bid to ensure that she is not abandoned thus continually trying to manage in strange events to avoid change. Faulkner continually tried to convey the theme of change and death in his comical artistic freedom that slightly slid into obscenity.
Claridge, Henry. William Faulkner: Critical Assessments. London: Taylor & Francis, 2000
Faulkner, William. A Rose for Emily. Perfection Form Company, 1990
Loris, Volpe Edmond. A Reader's Guide to William Faulkner: The Short Stories. New York: Publisher Syracuse University Press, 2004
Ruthmann, Davina. The Chronology of William Faulkner’s "A Rose for Emily". GRIN Verlag, 2007