Hello teachers, students, and readers of all kinds. It’s time for another blog post dedicated to finding the male divine figure in non-mythological works. Yet, this time, I won’t be talking about pop culture. Instead, I’ll be talking about good ol’ William Faulkner’s American-gothic short story, “A Rose for Emily.” This story was originally published in 1930 and continues to be one of the most anthologized short stories ever.
William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” portrays the mythology of the male divine through Mr. Grierson’s character, specifically seen in his relationship with his daughter, Emily Grierson. Mr. Grierson is controlling of Emily and chases off Emily’s suitors, so that she can never find true love. His presence is overpowering in both life and death; even after he dies, Emily refuses to accept that he is dead and leaves his body in her house for three days, until authorities forcibly remove his corpse. She even keeps a “crayon portrait” (Faulkner 2) of her father by her fireplace, years after his passing.
Although “her father had driven away” lots of young men and kept Emily from finding happiness, the townspeople figured that “she would have to cling to that which had robbed her” (4), or in other words, hold onto the memory of her father, for he was all that she was (allowed) to have.
Therefore, Mr. Grierson’s powerful and controlling presence, even posthumously, is characteristic of the male divine because male divine figures are characterized by their immense power and set clearly defined boundaries that no one can walk through (i.e. setting boundaries for Emily’s suitors). He also fits the King archetypal category of the divine male, as Kings govern the domain of family and their relationship to individuals and physical locations. The divine father, like Mr. Grierson, is the one who holds the most authority in the family and gets the last word.
What other elements of mythology did you see during your reading of “A Rose for Emily”? Let me know in the comments!