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Freytag’s Pyramid in A Rose for Emily


Though a non-linear narrative, Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily fits well into the significant structure described in Freytag’s Pyramid. Exposition is centered around the death of the eponymous character, Emily Grierson, and details her history in the town of Jefferson.

Moving backwards in time, an offer between Emily and a previous mayor, Colonel Sartoris, is discussed, in which Emily is remitted of all taxes due to a loan Emily’s dad made to the town before his death.

This expository information allows the reader to form a more substantive photo of Emily before the narrative actually starts.

Faulkner develops the tone of the story as puzzling and elliptical. Emily is someone who can only be known vaguely, through all that can be comprehended in a couple of events. By stopping working to divulge too much about Emily, Faulkner lends her an air of secret, therefore increasing the reader’s interest in her character.

The story then jumps back in time thirty years, when there was concern in Jefferson over an odor coming from Emily’s home. This is the point of increasing action, in which the story obtains tautness in dispute. Now the narrative is propelled forward by the reader’s curiosity- what is triggering this terrible smell? All of this builds on the mystery surrounding Emily, she ends up being not a lot a female as an apparition, a vague blur in the mind of the reader.

As the narrative earnings on it continuously moves backward in time, so that the climax occurs at the point outermost in the past. Emily’s purchase of the arsenic precedes chronologically the events of the very first, second, fourth, and 5th parts of the story. A Rose for Emily inverts the traditional narrative structure in which a story typically drives toward some point in the future, diving into the past for its revelations.

The purchase of the arsenic need to be considered the story’s climax for it is the only circumstances in which Emily does something about it within the narrative. She resolves here to take that action, the fruits of which are exposed in the last part of the story when the skeleton of Homer Barron is discovered in her bed room.

Part 4 of the story represents falling action, similar to the purchase of the arsenic the fate of Homer Barron has actually been settled. That the arrival of Emily’s family, or “kin” as Faulkner refers to them, is merely brushed upon in the vaguest terms acts as evidence- the focus of the story is somewhere else. All that is left here is for the story to unravel into the denouement, which comes of course with the discovery of her expected other half’s corpse.

Here, Faulkner pulls back the drape and permits the reader to briefly look a few of the mystery behind Emily, and by just suggesting at one perversion, he hints at an entire host of other weird activities. Hence the story is concluded not by fixing the mystery, but rather by increasing its lurid allure.

In a story, such as A Rose for Emily, which is as much about environment as it has to do with producing drama, a little action can carry excellent weight. Emily’s extremely existence, “dear, inevitable, resistant, peaceful, and perverse,” shocks the village of Jefferson out of entropy and into the life of narrative.

Hence, though the story is nominally propelled along by interest over an unusual odor emanating from her home, it is Emily herself in the end that sustains the interest of the reader. Though Freytag’s Pyramid is an outstanding guide for distilling remarkable structure from an otherwise evasive narrative, its application is limited. While the model corresponds to the purely dramatic aspects of A Rose for Emily it can not account for such complementary elements such as tone and style, which frequently facilitate drama just as much as a well-honed structure.

Faulkner’s composing operates obliquely, touching points of interest and then simply as quickly departing from them, leaving a slight fog about the people and locations he evokes. Making use of Freytag’s Pyramid can help shine a light through this fog and deal one a higher insight into the nature of this strange piece, A Rose for Emily.

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