A Rose for Emily” and “Sweat



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In Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily”, and Zora Neale Hurston’s “Sweat”, the main characters in both of these short stories are the making of male influence, in this case negative influence, and much of their anger and hatred is intermixed with occasional feelings of adoration8. For these two female characters in “A Rose for Emily” and “Sweat”, their troubles are the outcome of male control, and even though their anger is showed and solved in different ways, these two characters delve into despair and isolation because of the male influence and control in their lives; the affect it has on them is their anger and hate towards these male influences.

The two female characters in “Sweat” by Zora Neale Hurston, and “A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner are torn between adoration and hatred with no obvious gray area in site, towards the direct male influence and control in their lives. In both of these stories, it is difficult to determine these female emotions with any certainty. Although clarity is vivid in the male dominance on the female character’s feelings of adoration and hatred, its effect is clearly seen in their despair and isolation they experience.

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All of these female main characters give the impression of desire to love the men that have so much dominance over them, but ultimately they crack beneath the massive emotional burden of this male control. In Zora Neale Hurston’s “Sweat”, the main character’s husband, Sykes, is the major controlling influence in her life. Even though she is constantly working to maintain herself and her husband, he is constantly out with Bertha spending all of his money. Her anger is obvious when she states how much she hates him, yet there lines showing she still remembers love. For instance, “Ah hates you tuh de same degree dat Ah useter love yuh. (1093). Delia remembers how she used to feel about Sykes, especially back when they were first married and she remembers planting flowers and trying to make a nice home (1090), but his constant abuse to her causes her to dive deeper in despair and by the end of the story she allows him to die. In “Sweat” adoration and hatred continuously go back and forth and Delia even “attempted friendliness, but she was repulsed each time” (1092). The despair and isolation Delia felt in the end of the story, perhaps even more than the straightforward and steadily building anger, is what caused her to allow him to die in the end. A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner presents yet another example of a woman who possesses feelings of adoration and hatred but is constantly in despair and isolation because of the male influences in her life. Like the woman, Delia, in “Sweat”, she holds these hateful and even fearful feelings held up inside of herself until she acts out and does something drastic, for example, murdering Homer Barron (913). In “A Rose for Emily”, like in “Sweat”, the male figures are characterized as being very authoritative and controlling, in the case of Emily, her father is this male figure.

The narrator provides a detailed description of him next to Emily as others pictured them, as a “tableau”. “Miss Emily a slender figure in white in the background, her father a spraddled silhouette in the foreground, his back to her and clutching a horsewhip, the two of them framed by the backflung front door. ”(909). The imagery of the father clutching the whip next to the fragile Emily against a such a pure white background brings one to see and acknowledge the dominating and controlling nature of their relationship, better than any passage of conversation ever could portray.

Emily’s isolated behavior and incapability to handle her father’s death and another man coming into her world shows her confusion as to what she should express as far as emotion towards the men in her life. Adoration and hatred intermix so greatly to Emily due to her confusion she has towards these men because of the despair and isolation they caused her; she does not know how to act in response when she was presented with emotion within herself. Delia’s husband, Sykes, and Emily’s father are compared to each other because they are both men who threaten these females’ emotions and cause them great despair and isolation as a result.

In both of these stories, the two women characters internally act out this repression through murder. Emily’s murder involved the use of rat poison and she keeps the body of Homer in her house. Emily’s feelings of love are mixed with a bizarre sort of hatred because she keeps Homers body, quite possibly because she feels as though he [Homer] won’t be able to leave her as her father had done. Whereas the main character in “Sweat” did not commit murder directly, her reaction to her husband’s snake bite is seen as a form of murder since she made a conscious and absolute decision to not act out and do nothing about it.

Again, like Emily, Delias feelings are so confused and the lines between adoration and hatred are blurred together because she spent so much time as a wife in a obedient position. Both Emily in “A Rose for Emily” and Delia in “Sweat” try to bring a sense of balance to their feelings of love and hate but ultimately in the end, their attempts fail and both of these women act out in drastic ways. According to PhD Rick Nauert, senior news editor of PsychCentral, research shows and suggests effects of isolation bring anxiety, aggression, and memory impairment among other things.

The ultimate result of the male domination seen on the emotions of aggression these females experience results in Emily and Delia’s tragic downward spiral to despair and isolation. Both “A Rose for Emily” and “Sweat” are stories that can be categorized by despair and isolation felt by the main female characters of the stories. Works Cited: Nauert, Rick . “Stress Effects from Social Isolation Explained. ” PsychCentral. 15 Nov. 2007. 20 Sep. 2011. <http://psychcentral. com/news/2007/11/15/stress-effects-from-social-isolation-explained/1542. html>. Madden, Frank. Exploring Literature. Person Education, 2012

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