Archetypes in A Rose for Emily
Melissa Clark English 102 Oakes 4/9/97
Archetypes are, by definition, previous images, characters, or patterns
that recur throughout literature and though consistently enough to be considered
a universal concept or situation. Archetypes also can be described as complexes
of experiences that come upon us like fate, and their effects are felt in our
most personal life. A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner contains many of this
particular critical method. Although there are several archetypes found, the
most important is Emily’s father.
Archetypes are like riverbeds which dry up when the water deserts them, but
it can find it again at any time. This short story offers many interpretations.
However, the structure of the story breaks down into two stages: past and
present. By examining the archetypes within the story, it can be suggested that
Emily’s over-protective father stands to represent Emily’s feminist struggle,
the ongoing battle for women to have an equal place in society. Emily should be
able to do as she pleases, but her dependence her father does not allow her to
have that freedom.
Her father’s over-protection is evident in this passage, 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 (279).
Her father robs her from many of life’s necessities. She misses out on having
friends, being a normal woman, and her ability to be happy. Emily is not able
to live a normal life which she indirectly blames on her father. Emily is so
used to having her father be there for her, she figures that by keeping his body
he can still be part of her life.
The Jungian archetype of this feminist struggle can be noted as: Emily is
not able to live a normal life because her father keeps under his thumb. In
relation to keeping her father’s body, she keeps Homer Barron’s body so long
because she feels that she has finally accomplished something in her life.
Emily is not ready to give up that feeling. The feminist struggle is hard to
detect but it is still there.
In conclusion, there are two archetypes in A Rose for Emily: Emily’s father
and Homer Barron. Emily’s father is the chief archetype because he is the
reason for Emily’s breakdowns. She has been scarred for life which she
obviously never over comes.