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Emily Grierson is the titular character of the short story "A Rose for Emily" by the author William Faulkner. She represented the "Old South" clashing with the modern world.

Rose for Emily

Emily is introduced as a senile, mean-spirited old woman who was widely disliked, but pitied, by the residents of the fictional Yoknapatawpho County. She came from a wealthy family with roots in community reaching back generations, and seemed convinced that she was living in the old world of the pre-Civil War South. For example, she avoids paying her taxes, still believing that she had no taxes in Jefferson. She still firmly believed this even when her financial representative died. 

When she was younger, her father would put rules and regulations over her, and ran her life. However, she still loved her old man, and convinced herself that he was still alive and kept his body in her house for three days. When the undertakers came and tried to advise her to give them the body, she broke down and gave it to them after those three days. This left a huge impact on her.

To the town's surprise, Emily fell in love with Homer Barron, a Northern laborer with a dark complexion, and they assumed that she would marry him. However, much to her displeasure, Homer was more interested in other men than committment. Emily then went to the store to buy arsenic but she didn't tell the clerk what she would use it for. After this, no one saw Barron again nor did they see that much from Miss Grierson. It should be noted later on that most of the denizens of the town complained of a wretched smell from Emily's residence. They assumed that her servant probably killed a rat or any other pest. Emily spent the rest of her life as a spinster and a recluse, rarely leaving her house.

Several years after Homer's disappearance, Emily grew sick and died. After the body was buried, most of the men went through her former house and eventually came upon a door that was locked. After much effort, the door was broken open, and the townspeople discovered Homer's skeletal corpse on the bed with a fresh dent in on one of the pillows. They also noticed a long strand of gray hair on the pillow that belonged to the deceased Emily, thus leading to the implication that she had sex with the corpse.


In PBS' 1983 adaptation of Faulkner's story, Emily was portrayed by Anjelica Huston, who also portrayed the Grand High Witch in The Witches, Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent in Ever AfterMiss Harridan in Daddy Daycare and Miss Battle-Axe in the film adaptation of Horrid Henry.

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