Academic journal article K@ta

The Fall of Emily Grierson: A Jungian Analysis of A Rose for Emily

Academic journal article K@ta

The Fall of Emily Grierson: A Jungian Analysis of A Rose for Emily

Article excerpt


William Faulkner, the author of the short story A Rose for Emily, was born in the state of Mississippi. The state's history and culture inspired him and is reflected in several of his literary works, such as The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying. He is a representative American writer and Nobel Prize laureate. Given that the revolution occurred in the late 18th century and the decline of the Southern economy in the late 1860s, by creating the character of Emily Grierson, a southern woman tortured by the traditional patriarchy of her environment and forbidden love, Faulkner expresses his pity and love for his birthplace, as well as a nostalgia for the past. Faulkner was born more than three decades after the end of slavery, which was abolished after the Civil War. On September 22, 1862, Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States, issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which went into force in January 1863, abolishing slavery and freeing slaves in the North (Masur, 2012). The abolishment of slavery also disrupted the landowner-oriented economy. Being born in a wealthy family, Faulkner witnessed the continued decline of Southern aristocracies and the tragic position of black and white Americans, which inspired his series of works set in his invented locale of Yoknapatawpha County.

Most of Faulkner's novels and short stories deal with the vicissitudes of the society of the American South, the falling of aristocracies, and nostalgia for the Old South. Emily Grierson and the townspeople are traditional American Southerners clinging to the South earlier glory. They are resistant to change, and hence are stuck in the collective unconsciousness of the memorable glory of Southern aristocrats, the Old South that would never be back.


Coined by Jung, collective unconscious is a term used in analytic psychology, representing part of the unconscious mind. Based on Jung (1968), the collective unconscious is the deepest layer of the psyche, beneath the personal unconscious and ego/consciousness. The collective unconscious is related to the unus mundus, an underlying unified psychophysical reality that everything emerges from and finally returns to, a realm of archetypal forms common to all human beings (Casement, 2001; Christopher & Solomon, 1999). Since the collective unconscious is associated with cultural and social factors and can be expressed through archetypal images as commonly accepted symbols, myths, or truths of any particular time or period, it can be used to interpret an individual's initiation and socialization into the gender role expected of him or her in the development of identity (Christopher & Solomon, 1999). The collective unconscious can be formed immutably through immersion in certain cultures and social values; therefore the same collective unconscious is shared by all those human beings who share the same cultural and social values (Christopher & Solomon, 1999). In other words, the culturally bounded collective unconscious is shared by those with similar experiences, opinions, and values. As Robinson (2010) said, if a group of people live in the same culture, they may share similar experiences, behavior patterns, and social values. These experiences, behaviors, and social values are known as the collective cultural unconscious or cultural archetypes (see Figure 1).

There are some perceived qualities in each collective cultural unconscious or cultural archetype which can be used to evaluate and assess a certain group of people with the same collective memory by what that society or community has experienced. The history of the antebellum South-the world of aristocratic honor, wealthy plantation owners and slavery- remained rooted in the collective memories of Southern communities long after the Civil War (Du, 2007). Therefore, in the story of "A Rose for Emily," when Emily Grierson, a symbol of the Old South, passes away, the whole town attends her funeral "through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument" (p. …

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