Figurative Language in A Rose for Emily

There are some stories that go beyond just plain storytelling. These words contain within them hidden meanings that add a lot of character and depth to the story. One such short story was written by William Faulkner, titled A Rose for Emily, the language of which is riddled with everything from personification to metaphors.

This is just one of the reasons why a million students around the world read A Rose for Emily as part of their curriculum. They also write essays on the subject to get a good grade, analyzing the figurative language used. Some of the custom StudyDriver essays on A Rose for Emily go into a lot of depth about the characters and the literary devices used by Faulkner to make it as effective a piece of writing as it is. Reading through such examples can open a whole new world about this tale and also help you practice for your own analysis.

To write your own essay on A Rose for Emily, you might also want to find out how Faulkner has used figurative language in his tale. Here, we will talk about some of the things he has used to describe Miss Emily and her life. But before that, let’s go over a quick summary of this literary work.

A Brief Description

A Rose for Emily is a tale in which the whole town narrates the lead’s life while attending her funeral. The townspeople telling the tale go through the events that led to the death of our protagonist. This leads to the revelation of a dark truth about her that has been kept secret for a good number of years. The text is not written in a way that follows the order of the various occurrences that are being discussed. However, despite that, it remains highly engaging from the start till the end.

To do your analysis or get a solid grade on your essay on A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner, you should read the tale carefully so as to not miss anything important. Consider these important aspects of crafting essays before you actually begin working so you can do justice to A Rose for Emily. To help you get started, let’s not take a look at some of the similes and symbolism you shouldn’t miss.

The Figurative Language of A Rose for Emily

Mr. William has used plenty of words and phrases throughout the tale to create a complete picture of Emily as a character and her obsession with Homer, along with other aspects of the text. If you have read and found the symbolism in The Yellow Wallpaper intriguing, you will find the figurative language here very powerful too. Here are some of the most important metaphors:

  • Right at the beginning of A Rose for Emily, the author uses the metaphor “the fallen monument” to personify Emily Grierson. This points to the fact that the town feels a respectful affection towards her and she had a strong presence in the area.
  • Building on the idea of a monument, the author also uses the expressions like “a tradition”, a duty, and a care” as nouns to address the lead. This shows that she was important in her town and the people also felt like they were responsible for her because of her and her family’s help that was provided over time.
  • The title of the tale, A Rose for Emily is a metaphor in itself. The word “rose” symbolizes a lot of things. Here, it points towards love at first. The love Emily has for Homer Barron can be symbolized very strongly with the word rose. The reason for this is that a rose also has thorns which could indicate multiple things in this tale. On the one hand, they can depict the hardships that Emily had to face during her life, and on the other, they can also point towards what Emily did to Homer in the name of love. So the use of the word rose in the title is quite significant here.
  • Not only does the narrator use metaphors to physically depict someone in A Rose for Emily, but he also uses them to give the readers an indication of their mental state. For example, when describing the lead after her father passed away, he says that her eyes looked like “two small pieces of coal pressed into a lump of dough”. This shows that she had put on weight and had gotten quite old by this moment.
  • Another piece of symbolism in A Rose for Emily can be found when the people of the town found Homer’s corpse on the bed and noticed a long strand of gray hair next to it. This gray hair can symbolize the idea of commitment and “forever” that Miss Emily held in her heart.
  • The author also uses text to paint a visual picture for the readers at times. One such example is when he describes Emily’s house as having a “big squarish frame that had once been white”. As soon as one reads this, the image of a building that used to be stark white but has now become old and is perhaps losing its color comes to mind. That is just an example of how writers can use text to make certain themes very clear.


A Rose for Emily is a literary work that has been read by many around the world. To this day, it remains an engaging tale with plenty of symbolic phrases here and there that each fits perfectly in its place and setting. All of these give the reader a clear view of each character and their role in the life of the lead and are worth a deeper analysis. Today, students go through this tale to ensure they understand the theme perfectly and get a strong grade on their essays. Starting with the “Rose” in the title and going on to include multiple metaphors, this is a great read for anyone who wishes to practice their English or write a summary of the tale.

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