Essay on Hawthorne To Faulkner: The Evolution Of The Short Story

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Hawthorne to Faulkner: The Evolution of the Short Story

Nathaniel Hawthorne and William Faulkner’s short stories “Young Goodman Brown” and “A Rose for Emily” use a moral to endorse particular ideals or values. Through their characters examination and evaluation of one another, the author’s lesson is brought forth. The authors’ style of preaching morals is reminiscent of the fables of Aesop and the religious parables of the Old and New Testament. The reader is faced with a life lesson after reading Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown:” you cannot judge other people. A similar moral is presented in Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily.” The use of morals combined with elements of Romantic era writing show the stories of Hawthorne and Faulkner to
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Emily is a woman who goes against all norms of her society: she takes a lover, a Northerner no less, she does not marry him, and she even commits murder. As she goes through these events in her life, the townspeople make certain assumptions about what she is doing. They assume that she has married Homer Barron, they assume that the arsenic she purchased is so that she can kill herself, and they constantly assume that she is “Poor Emily,” a woman who is ruled by her father and unable to make decisions for herself.

“So the next day we all said, ‘She will kill herself;’ and we said it would be the best thing. When she had first begun to be seen with Homer Barron, we had said, ‘She will persuade him yet…’” (461).

The townspeople continually judge Emily and make assumptions about her life without a basis in fact. Faulkner himself acknowledged the connection between his title character and her environment, that is, her town and the townspeople around her, in an interview in 1959.

“…and that was simply another manifestation of man’s injustice to man, of the poor tragic human being struggling with its own heart, with others, with its environment, for the simple things which all human beings want…” (1416)

He continues with a description of Emily and how she does not meet the expectations of her society.

“She had been trained that you do not take a lover. You marry, you don’t take a lover. She had broken all the laws of her tradition, her
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