Art of Craftsmanship

Academic writing tips and guidelines

A Rose for Emily Essay Topics

A Rose for Emily is a short story by William Faulkner and is well-known in most literary circles. This story has many themes and great imagery from which to draw essay topics, so finding one you can comfortable write about should not be an issue for you.

The Plot

This story is divided into five sections. The narrator of the story opens it by recalling the death of Emily Grierson and how the entire town attended her funeral. It was particularly interesting because the funeral was held in Emily's home, which had not had a visitor in more than 10 years. The house is in an upscale neighborhood, but Emily had not paid taxes on it in several years because the previous mayor had pardoned her thanks to her father's contributions to the town.

In the second part of the story the narrator describes Emily thirty years earlier, a time when Emily's father has died and the man she was to marry has left her. Townspeople smell an odor at her home and go to inquire, sprinkling lime around the base of the home to get rid of the stench. Emily is becoming more reclusive and the townspeople pity her. She even denies her father is dead for three days and will not allow him to be buried.

In section three, the narrator tells of Emily's courtship with the director of a construction company, Homer Barron. This only makes the townspeople scorn Emily, though, as they deem Homer unfit for a lady of her station. As her reputation deteriorates, Emily purchases arsenic and refuses to say why she is buying it.

In part four it is revealed that the townspeople are afraid Emily means to kill herself, and a preacher goes to talk to Emily. He never revealed what happened and swore to never go back to her home. Two of Emily's cousins visit her and talk of her marriage to Homer increases. After the cousins leave Homer pays a visit to Emily and is never seen again. Only a servant is seen going in and out of the house until she dies.

At her funeral the townspeople discover Homers body and notice that Emily had slept next to it every night until her death.


You can easily discuss Emily's mental state and how the townspeople play role in that state. You can ask the reader to envision how this story relates to Faulkner’s' own life and discuss similar elements.

Is Emily a protagonist and if so, how?

How does her relationship with her father set her up for failure later in life?