Sample English Analysis Paper of “A Rose for Emily” from a Historical and Psychological Lens


Literal works examine issues in society using various lenses. William Faulker’s A Rose for Emily manages to achieve this by looking at the consequences of mental disorder. On that note, the theory can be analyzed using the psychoanalytical theory and historical theory. An analysis of the story using these lenses reveals that Emily’s insanity was caused by her refusal to let go, refusal to accept reality, and her strange behavior and relationships.


The application of the history theory reveals one of the issues that caused Emil’s mental issues was her refusal to move on.  Through Emily, the author depicts the struggle that comes from the attempt to preserve tradition amid wide societal changes (Barnet, Burto, and Cain, 451). Emily lives in a Grierson, a tow of faded glory where Civil War soldiers are buried. Aside from the ability to cope with changes, Emily refuses to let her father go and even lies next to his corpse (Barnet, Burto, and Cain, 451). Another issue is her love for Homer, where she attempts to exert her authority over him since she comes from a higher socioeconomic family. Since this strategy did not work, she resorted to killing Homer. Emily’s fear of losing Homer made her commit the homicide. Besides, they both were from two different cultures and had different worldviews.

The historical lens depicts Emily’s insanity resorted from her refusal to move on. First, she did not willingly accept her father’s death; this was the reason why she lay next to his corpse. Second, Emily was an embodiment of tradition (Barnet, Burto, and Cain, 452). Despite the numerous modern changes in her community, including industrialization, social, and cultural changes, she was adamant on staying the same. While it was honorable she was a living monument, she also becomes a burden and is completely cut off from the outside world. On that note, the opposition to the assertions above can state that Emily was deemed insane since she did not conform to the pressures of society. Emily was used to a distinctive lifestyle and abided by unique norms for her entire life. These are the aspects that made Emily and her family be influential; hence she saw no need to change (Barnet, Burto, and Cain, 452). Also, it was important to note that Emily was in a state of grieving, hence her refusal to let her father and Homer go. A person who is grieving has to go through various stages before they are willing to move on; this was the case for Emily. This argument can be refuted by asserting that even though people grieve in various ways, some elements, such as lay with a corpse, shows the possibility of a mental illness. It is normal to grief; however, the inability to move on in Emily’s case was extreme.

A close analysis illustrates that Emily had mental issues due to her strange behavior and relationships. First, her isolation from the rest of the town shows that she was reclusive. Secondly, her relationship with her father was obsessive; hence her refusal to let him go. An application of the historical lens in this situation reveals that Emily is exhibiting signs of mental health issues as this can be seen in other literal works (Barnet, Burto, and Cain, 454). Her delusions are the same as that of The Misfit in Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good man is hard to find.” The mental illness is affirmed after she poisons Homer since she did not want to lose him.


The essay has examined A Rose for Emily from a historical and psychological lenses. An analysis of the story using these lenses reveals that Emily’s insanity was caused by her refusal to let go, refusal to accept reality, and her strange behavior and relationships. While her actions might be justified by the fact that she was grieving and refusal to bow down to the pressures of society, it was clear that she was exhibiting signs of mental illness. Emily’s story demonstrates the need of addressing mental issues before they become severe


Works Cited

Barnet, Sylvan, Burto, William., and Cain, William. W. “A Rose for Emily” in Literature for Composition: An Introduction to Literature. 11th ed., Boston, Pearson, 2016.