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Emily House by William Faulkner

19

Emily House represents both the corruption and destruction of the old South. An eyesore among many others, it also serves as a time capsule of our history.

Maher takes on temporary work at the Dickinson home to save enough money to leave town, never anticipating that she will develop such a meaningful relationship with Miss Emily Dickinson.

The House

Emily House provides a safe and family-oriented space where children living with life-limiting illnesses and their families can find relief and peace of mind. Staffed 24/7 for medical respite services, nursing support, recreation therapy services, psychosocial/spiritual support services, and bereavement support, Emily House is there when needed to give the community relief and provide peace of mind.

Emily Dickinson’s house, Emily House, became iconic due to its symbolism of her eccentric and reclusive life and poetry. Emily lived alone in this house, which stands as a reminder of Southern aristocracy’s decline during her lifetime; its images convey wealth, privilege, and power, which contrast starkly with her lonely and despair-stricken experience of living alone within it.

The strand of hair on Emily’s pillow represents her life, marked by love and loss. With each passing year, Emily’s own aging body became more evident, and so too, did Emily’s desire to live an independent existence that defied expectations set upon her by others.

Emily House joined the Education Strategy Group in 2023 after serving as Chief Research and Policy Officer of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University as well as master’s and doctoral degrees in Public Policy from Vanderbilt University – she possesses a deep commitment to bettering higher education an expertise in policy design, data analytics, and college access strategies, among other subjects.

The Characters

As the story develops, readers gain more insight into those living in this old house. One of the key characters is Margaret Maher, an Irish immigrant who has served in Emily Dickinson’s household for years and forms a close bond with Emily.

Belding Brown takes readers on an exploration of Emily’s life and poetry by using Margaret as the focal point. Although Margaret is close to Emily and her family, they do not treat her on equal terms in terms of social class and economic status – this fact becomes evident through Margaret’s frustration over Emily’s frequent use of her nickname as well as through an awkward family discussion about Margaret’s future.

Mr. Grierson is another crucial character. His controlling nature often gets in the way of Emily finding love and also acts as a source of contention between Emily’s house and its surroundings; townspeople see his home as a crumbling ruin and project their fantasies onto its crumbling walls.

Homer is an elderly judge and wealthy planter in the town of Willow Banks. Homer takes an interest in Emily and her sisters; Emily strongly dislikes him and attempts to resist his advances; at the same time, she rejects William Weightman – brother of Emily’s dead suitor – who becomes interested in them as well.

Over time, Margaret becomes increasingly instrumental in saving Emily’s poetry from destruction (which Lavinia and Mabel Loomis Todd are credited for discovering). She helps assemble scattered poems into chapbooks while encouraging Emily to submit copies to publishers.

As the story develops, Margaret finds herself faced with making a life-altering choice between Emily and Patrick (a Fenian sympathizer who fights to free Ireland from British rule), with whom she had made an unbreakable promise to remain. Eventually, she decides to keep that pledge and stay with Emily in their house, which has become both her sanctuary and source of poetry.

The Setting

The setting is an integral component of this story. Miss Emily’s house symbolizes her traditionalist outlook and resistance to change, while its rough exterior demonstrates this sentiment as well as its remote location in town.

This story is told nonlinearly, which allows readers to delve deep into Emily and Margaret’s house as they explore its details and relationships with Emily and Margaret. Each chapter in the novel consists of parts of the house: thresholds, shutters, windows, doors, chambers, corridors, and porches. This structure encourages students to consider how the house functions for Emily and Margaret as well as its representation of more significant themes within the tale.

Emily becomes increasingly isolated after the death of her father. The townsfolk regard her with disdain, as they believe he founded it. Emily refuses to pay taxes as she considers his memory found it instead, and, due to being incapable of functioning within modern society, she has developed delusions of grandeur that cause her distress.

She only interacts with the outside world through Tobe, her servant and lifeline to the town and source of information about it. Over time, Tobe became increasingly distrustful among his peers. Eventually, they stopped asking questions; Tobe was the only one who could genuinely provide her with truthful details of life outside.

Emily’s home stands as a reminder of an increasingly obsolete way of life: that of the Old South inexorably being replaced by modern industrial America of cotton and gasoline production. Emily refuses to accept its existence; rather, it represents her legacy and privilege, which are being dismantled over time.

Emily remains isolated in her attempts to restore the house as it was when she lived there, refusing to pay taxes and interact with the town; these actions demonstrate her inability to adapt to an ever-changing reality, her insistence upon keeping everything as it once was is an example of an individual resisting change that ultimately leads to his or her demise. Faulkner used this setting as an illustration of how isolation can alter our minds irreparably.

The Theme

Emily’s house is an iconic symbol in Faulkner’s tale, used to symbolize both the Old South, human emotions, and Emily’s physical changes throughout her life. Faulkner also used Emily’s house to illustrate how Emily’s life is changing and degrading by upsetting its linear order while emphasizing small details that reveal how change is occurring in her life.

Emily’s house stands as a symbol of the old South as it was constructed during or just after the Reconstruction Era in Jefferson, Mississippi. At that time, homes in Jefferson were ornate and large; Emily’s represents an old aristocratic way of life that is slowly dying away.

After Emily dies, the entire town attends her funeral, curious to explore her house and learn more about her reclusive lifestyle. When they enter her house they find many items, most notably an extensive length of hair on Emily’s pillow from Homer Barron (her former lover).

Emily is preoccupied with her past and cannot come to terms with the reality of her mortality. Additionally, she’s reluctant to relinquish any power or influence within the community, where she feels her father still exerts some form of control, something that prevents her from finding lasting happiness in life.

Fearful of giving up her power, her preoccupation with her past and the fear of surrendering it has left her an isolated woman. Townspeople have begun questioning her lifestyle, and whether or not she actually needs medication for her illness, becoming aware of her strange behaviors as well as not taking prescribed medicine for it.

The story’s conclusion shows how Emily is unable to adapt and change with the ever-evolving world around her, symbolized by her refusal to let go of her house and past, an act which represents her lack of ability to function in modern society and make decisions on her terms, making life decisions for herself; her home has now become a source of mental and emotional isolation for Emily.