Faulkner’s “A Rose For Emily” Vs. Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”


For several years, novels, stories, and poems have been published daily. The field of literature has expanded significantly over time. Every novel is unique, yet they can share several similarities. The short tales “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner and “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman have several similarities and differences. The two short stories describe how the circumstances of the two women’s lives force them into isolation. While both stories have characters, similar genre, and seclusion, they have several differences, including isolation and death.


A girl named Emily, born into an aristocratic family, is the subject of William Faulkner’s short tale “A Rose for Emily.” Her father cut her off from most social interaction for a long time. When his father passes away, she refuses to recognize it. She then spent a long time alone in her home, until one day she met Homer Barron and fell in love. However, people would judge her because they all held high regard. As the author described, she bought arsenic one day, intending to kill herself. However, following her death, a skeleton was discovered in her closet, which was undoubtedly Homer Barron’s.

Emily’s neighbors discover that she kept her lover’s body inside the house. Generally, it is feasible to state that these narratives demonstrate how closely psychological isolation and physical confinement are related. Individuals need to be aware that psychological isolations ultimately lead to mental problems as well. Emily is not compelled to live alone and finds it difficult to comprehend that the culture of her childhood is no longer there. To keep Homer as her boyfriend forever, she murders him. She attempts to ignore reality by living alone as a result. Her desire to escape or her refusal to accept societal changes lead to her physical seclusion. One may conclude that William Faulkner’s exploration of Emily’s psychological imprisonment serves as the novel’s vital theme.

The central protagonist of Charlotte Gilman’s story is prohibited from working. These circumstances were ordinary in the seventeenth century. She eventually becomes insane as a result of her psychological and communal seclusion. The author then illustrates the damaging implications of this philosophy on a person. The anonymous narrator of “The Yellow Wallpaper” relocates to a remote location with her spouse and sister-in-law to recover from her illness. In “A Rose for Emily,” Emily’s father shields her from the outside world, and after his death, she is left penniless.

The protagonist of “A Rose for Emily” is Emily Grierson, who is alluded to as Miss Emily throughout the narrative. In a large, elaborate house, Emily used to live with her father and servants. It was as though Emily’s existence revolved around her father because she was unable to establish any genuine relationships with anybody else. Miss Emily experienced a tremendous loss when her father died (Bai et al. 612). After the loss of her father, her life came to an abrupt stop. Homer Barron arrived in town as a contractor to pave the sidewalks and struck a romantic relationship with Miss Emily. Her existence is tense because of the passing of time. She initially struggles to accept her father’s passing. She then stirs up conflict in the neighborhood by refusing to pay taxes. Emily proposed Homer Barron.

Because of how she felt others were assessing her, Emily avoided society. The female protagonist of “The Yellow Wallpaper” is the woman who spent hours analyzing the wallpaper’s design. Because the ladies were so preoccupied with figuring out the plot, there were unexpected developments. In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” a girl was shown as being caged while her husband abused her without sympathy. No life existed for her since the ladies were under so much strain. She battles depression after the birth of her infant and eventually spends the entire day lying in bed and gazing at the yellow wall covering, “I cry at nothing, and cry most of the time,” her situation gets worse as a result (Stetson 10). She begins to notice a woman trapped behind the wallpaper, and she thinks the woman is attempting to escape (Perkins Gilman). Finally, she tears the wallpaper to free the woman.

The narrator in “The Yellow Wallpaper,” expresses how she feels emancipated in that house after ripping the wallpaper. This short story is a metaphor for women’s restriction to the domestic realm. They frequently were not given a chance to engage in civic life. In the tale “A Rose for Emily,” the other ladies and Emily’s parents are described. Emily was either coerced or persuaded by her family. In “A Rose for Emily,” the child’s love and curiosity rule the protagonist’s existence, and the novel depicts how males control women because the author’s beloved spouse does the same.


Theme: Seclusion

The same theme, solitude, can be seen in these two tales. The characters in both works discuss and experience loneliness. This quote from “A Rose for Emily” reads, “…the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one save an old man-servant — a combined gardener and cook — had seen in at least ten years” shows the separation between Emily and the town described where she lives (Wang 37). The protagonist in “A Rose for Emily” lacks social contact because his father avoids seeing her. The woman in “The Yellow Wallpaper” is similarly shunned by society due to the ailment her husband claims she has. The protagonists of these two works of literature serve as illustrations of the struggles faced by women who men rule. As a result, these two participants are oppressed by male forces and negatively impacted physically and mentally.

Some of these symptoms resemble those the narrator of “The Yellow Wallpaper” experiences. The novel’s narrator mentions at one point that she feels unhappy and emotionally unstable because of how slowly loneliness consumes her. The film declares that despair is a disease that impacts one’s feelings, thoughts, and behavior. In this instance, readers can relate it to the chief character and see how the depression motivates her behavior. As a result of her acts, her spouse keeps her sequestered in the yellow room.


The Gothic and dark genres are present in both short tales. When Homer Barron, 40, is depicted as rotting in her bed, “A Rose for Emily” exhibits Gothic elements (Huang 203). The author attempted to depict a scenario of necrophilia in this section and in the case presented in the scene where Emily is discovered dead. When the central character in “The Yellow Wallpaper” goes insane in her chamber and begins seeing things on the walls, individuals can see Gothic elements. By stating that the fundamental character trusts a woman is hiding behind the wall covering, the author attempts to add a touch of terror and imagination to the narrative.


Readers can see that the female protagonists of “A Rose for Emily” and “The Yellow Wallpaper” are both driven insane by their emotional state of being confined by the men in their lives—father Emily and the woman’s spouse, John. They withdraw into their universes as a way to escape reality and an attempt to find relief from the suffering brought on by men’s power. Unlike the woman in “The Yellow Wallpaper,” who disappears into her head and the wallpaper’s world, Emily stays in her own house (Özyon 120). These two short tales are comparable in that they both feature a psychologically and emotionally unwell protagonist and share solitude, all of which combine to form the Gothic genre. They establish how the two female characters suffer from the isolation that men impose on them, as well as how women in the past were ostracized and suffered in some kind.

Female heroes who are cut off from the outside world by male characters in both novels later become insane. The unnamed narrator of “The Yellow Wallpaper” relocates to a remote location with her spouse and sister-in-law to recover from her illness. In “A Rose for Emily,” Emily’s father shields her from the outside world, and after his death, she is left penniless. There are numerous similarities and contrasts between the two divisions regarding the environment, characters, metaphor, and their imprisonment from the outside world, which drives them to absurdity.

In the short stories, both Emily and the speaker struggle with challenges related to their identities. Even though the two stories are set in different locations, the two women are effectively imprisoned in their households. The two women are in entirely different stages of their lives. She starts in “A Rose for Emily” as a little girl; by the time the story is over, she is an elderly woman (Isroilovich 380). The events in “The Yellow Wallpaper,” which are covered over just a few months, center on the reporter in middle age. Because “The Yellow Wallpaper” is written in the first person and “A Rose for Emily” is written in the third, both stories present different perspectives on women. However, both women’s lives share some similarities while differing in other areas. They are imprisoned in a universe of delusions, domination, and mental sickness, along with Emily. Both women encounter emotions of domination by others, isolation, and deterioration of sanity due to being mocked by the men in their lives and society.

Although the two women had comparable experiences, their upbringings were very different. While the other must remain inside her house, one avoids contact with the outside world. In both tales, the women lose touch with reality and become more isolated. They are both substantially eliminated from other people. For instance, Emily, who resides in Jefferson’s fictional town, interacts with her fellow citizen (Chen 260). The storyteller defines this individual as “a custom, a responsibility, and a maintenance; a type of genetic responsibility” (Faulkner et al. 256). Despite being financially dependent on her nationals, she cuts all ties. She comes from a distinguished Antebellum-era Southern family. These individuals, however, cannot adapt to the brand-new social, legal, and economic conditions. She claims, for example, that Colonel Sartoris exempted her from paying taxes, even though he died several years prior. The hardships of these two female characters in “A Rose for Emily” and “The Yellow Wallpaper” directly result from male control. Their coping strategy involves escorting them out of the hostile environment. Their repressed feelings, which cause them to be wholly detached, are the direct cause of their escape from the present world.

As a representation of her deteriorating health, Emily in “A Rose for Emily” spent most of her time cooped up within her home. The townspeople’s attitude toward her changes with her father’s passing, and they now view her as “a tradition, a responsibility, and a concern; a kind of hereditary responsibility upon the public” (Faulkner et al. 139). Along with the opinion of Emily’s father, the community is against Emily being married and having a new partner in her life. She is referred to be “a shame to the town and a horrible example to the young people” because of her connection with Homer (Isroilovich 382). She cannot connect with others in the future because of her terrible associations with the neighborhood, her father, and Homer. The speaker of “The Yellow Wallpaper” is imprisoned in a chamber in a remote country manor. She is barred from having a regular dialogue, and part of the purpose of her physical seclusion is to keep her from that possibility.

Gilman’s protagonist experiences isolation from other individuals as well. Her husband forbids her from working or socializing with others. He merely demands that she remain inside the house. She soon finds this solitude intolerable. That is one of the things that have to be considered. Psychological shackling requires more consideration. This issue is crucial if one discusses “The Yellow Wallpaper’s” nameless speaker, who is not allowed to socialize with others. This is one of the motives she has such an obsession with “The Yellow Wallpaper” patterns. For instance, she thinks these patterns start to change and that a “lady behind” is shaking them (Gilman 735). She cannot converse with anyone but her husband, which to some extent, explains her conduct. The same may be said of Emily, whose mental issues did not become fully apparent until after her passing.


These legendary works demonstrate how countless characters might suffer from spiritual and physical captivity. The brief story by William Faulkner suggests that societal and mental alimentation are the critical factor that can account for a patient’s overall isolation. On the other hand, Charlotte Gilman is interested in the emotions of an individual whose corporal imprisonment results in inner estrangement and insanity. It is crucial to reminisce that these authors portray a life utterly divorced from the communal sphere, which are the significant characteristics that are observable. The figures like the husband exhibit the ladies and Emily in “The Yellow Wallpaper” who were in the custody of despair. The author and reader develop the intellectual feeling of how ladies are handled in society. The concepts of affection and the hatred of ladies and men via suppression are defined in “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “A Rose for Emily.” The occasional sensations of passion and a plot that deals with deciding emotions show the male tendencies. The most considerable controlling impact of male oppression is female confinement in society.

Works Cited

Bai, Xiaojun et al. “An Analysis of Emily’s Characters in A Rose for Emily from the Perspective of Narration.” Journal of Language Teaching and Research, vol. 11, no. 4, 2020, pp. 611-615.

Chen, Mei-Shu. “The Uncelebrated Nonhuman Citizens of Nature in Emily Dickinson’s Writings.” Ex-Position, vol. 42, 2019, pp. 245-272.

Faulkner et al. “A Rose For Emily.” n.d., pp. 253-264.

Huang, Yan. “An Analysis on Rose in A Rose for Emily.” Journal of Social Science Studies, vol. 6, no. 2, 2019, pp. 202-205.

Isroilovich, Umrzaqov Islomjon. “Description of the Special Properties of the Southern Gothic In the Works of William Faulkner.” Conferencea, 2022, pp. 379-385.

Özyon, Arzu. “A Journey of Feminist Rebellion Through Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Short Story The Yellow Wallpaper and Her Novel Herland.” International Journal of Language Academy, vol. 8, no. 5, 2020, pp. 115-124.

Perkins Gilman, Charlotte. “The Yellow Wallpaper”, 2022.

Stetson, Charlotte Perkins. “The Yellow Wall Paper”, 2019, pp. 1-15.

Wang et al. “Faulkner’s “Treatment of Time: An Analysis of the Non-Chronological Narration in “A Rose for Emily”, n.d., pp. 33-45. Web.