Analysis of Southern Gothic Literature

Topics: Southern Gothic, William Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor Pages: 8 (2880 words) Published: May 26, 2006
Analysis of Southern Gothic Literature
Southern Gothic literature, which is a sub-genre of the Gothic writing style, is unique to the American South. Southern Gothic literature has many of the same aspects as Gothic literature; it focuses on topics such as death, madness, and the super natural as well has having many mystical, bizarre, violent, and grotesque aspects. These tools are used "to explore social issues and reveal the cultural character of the American South (Wikipedia)."

The authors of Southern Gothic writing use damaged characters to enhance their stories, and to show deeper highlights of unpleasant southern characteristics. These characters are usually set apart from their societies due to their mental, physical, and or social disabilities. However not all the aspects of the characters are bad "it is more often the case that a mixture of good and bad is found in most of the characters (McFLY)" The authors of these stories do give the main character some good qualities; this is so the reader will fill sympathy and understanding for the character. Two authors who exhibit the Southern Gothic writing style are William Faulkner, who wrote "A Rose for Emily", and Flannery O'Conner, the author of "Good Country People" and "A Good Man is Hard to Find".

William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" is an example of Southern Gothic literature. It contains many aspects of Southern Gothic writing, such as an old dark mansion, death, mystery, bizarre events, and the crazy Miss. Emily. The story takes place in a small town in Jefferson Mississippi. The narrator tells us the story of Miss. Emily Grierson, from the town's point of view. "‘A Rose for Emily' is the remarkable story of Emily Grierson, an aging spinster in Jefferson, whose death and funeral drew the attention of the entire town (Faulkner n.p.)." The first sign that this story is going to be Southern Gothic is when Faulkner describes her funeral. According to the narrator, when Miss. Emily died, everyone attended her funeral; "the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house (Perrine's 281)." The narrator then goes on to tell the story of Miss. Emily.

Miss. Emily lived in a once beautiful, white, seventies style home, but as the years went by her home became "an eyesore among eyesores (Perrine's 281)." This may be a reflection of how the town saw Miss. Emily herself, once beautiful and now an eyesore to the entire community.

After Miss. Emily's father had died, Colonel Sartoris told her that she would not have to pay taxes on her house, due to the fact that her "father had loaned money to the town, which the town, [. . . ], preferred this way of repaying (Perrine's 282)." So for many years, Miss. Emily went on with out paying taxes. When the next generation came into office, a tax notification was sent to Miss. Emily, who sent it back to them with no other comments. The "Board of Aldermen" was sent to her house; they "knocked at the door through which no visitor had passed (Perrine's 282)" through for eight to ten years. When they were let in, by "the old Negro", they house smelled of dust and disuse (Perrine's 282)." When Miss. Emily entered the dimly light living room "she looked bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water (Perrine's 282-283)." The spokesman asked why Miss. Emily had not paid her taxes, to which she replied "I have no taxes in Jefferson. […] See Colonel Sartoris (Perrine's 283)." What Miss. Emily did not know was that Colonel Sartoris had been dead for almost ten years now.

On one occasion, a neighborhood woman went to the mayor to complain of a smell coming from Miss. Emily's house. The mayor thought nothing of it until two more complaints were received the next day. Finally the Board of Aldermen sent four men out to her house the next night, after midnight, and sprinkled lime all around Miss. Emily's house and outbuildings; "After a...

Cited: Definition of southern gothic as provided by Wikipedia: .
Dilworth, Thomas "A Romance to Kill For: Homicidal Complicity in Faulkner 's A Rose for Emily" Studies in Short Fiction (36:3) 1999 251-62
O 'Connor, Flannery. "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" Perrine 's Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense. 8th ed. Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle, 2001. 495- 509.
O 'Connor, Flannery. "Good Country People". n.p. 31 Jan. 2006. .
Faulkner, William. "A Rose for Emily" 2002 Perrine 's Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense. 8th ed. Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle, 2001. 281- 289.
Faulkner, William: William Faulkner on the web:
"Southern Gothic." McFLY. n.d. 5 Feb. 2006 .
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