Type: Literary Analysis
Pages: 4 | Words: 1023
Reading Time: 5 Minutes

Steinbeck displays an astonishing aptitude to probe into the complexities of a woman’s perception. “The Chrysanthemums†is told in the third person, but the unfolding is presented almost exclusively from Elisa’s point of view. Considering the locale of the narrative, when traditional belief of women and their abilities persisted in America, most of the men indiscreetly accepted the conservative perception that working husbands and a decent sum of money were the only things women considered necessary. On the face of it, Elisa seems to provoke the censure of traditional men. She is portrayed as being explicitly sexual, edgy with her husband, and discontented with her life. Instead,  she renders the waste of her aptitude, energy, and aspiration as a misfortune.

On the other hand, Steinbeck depicts Elisa Allen as fascinating, bright, and passionate woman who lives an unsatisfying and uninspired life. She is disillusioned or overlooked at every turn. Having a professional career is not a preference for her, she has no children, her interest in the business side of the ranch is ignored, and her offers of assisting her husband to farm are treated with well-meant disregard. In addition, her wish to see the world is shrugged off as a weak desire for a woman to have. As a result, Elisa directs all of her energy to maintaining her house and garden in both an exaggerated and melancholic way. Although she appropriately brags about her green thumb, her correlation with nature seems strained and not something that flows as naturally as she claims. She knows a more about plants, most likely for the reason that she is a woman, gardening is the only thing she has to consider (Steinbeck, p.1-4).

Elisa is so upset with life that she willingly looks to the tinker for invigorating discussion and even sex, the two inadequacies lacking in her life. Her bodily attraction to the tinker and her enticing, humorous conversation with him brings out the best in Elisa, drastically turning her into an incredible poet. Her succinct flashes of brilliancy in the presence of  tinker show us how much she is constantly thinking and feeling and how infrequent she gets to articulate herself. After  the hope of physical and mental fulfillment vanishes with the tinker, Elisa’s desolation suggests how unhappy she is with her marriage. She is so desperate to surpass the trap of being a woman that she seeks escape. She tries to banter with her husband, requesting for wine with her dinner, and even to the point of showing interest in the gory fights that only were attended by men only. But none of these could really satisfy Elisa, despite the fact that, and it is cynical that she will ever find fulfillment (p.5-8).

Contrary to Elisa, Faulkener in his narrative “A rose for Emily† probes into the hidden miseries behind the curtains of glory. Emily was an outstanding lady with whom all the members of the public assumed a proprietary affiliation to, extolling the icon of a magnificent lady whose family record and status required great reverence. At the same time, the townspeople disapproved of her unusual life and relationship with Homer Barron. Emily is simply depicted as an object of fascination. Most of the people were obligated to protect her, whereas others felt free to scrutinize her every move, floating at the edges of her life. Because of the fact that Emily was the last representative of a one time great Jefferson family, the townspeople felt that they had an inborn daughter from a faded realm of wealth and reputation. On the contrary, prior to her death, “Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town . . .†(Faulkener, p.1). This can be seen especially when Colonel Sartoris fabricated a story regarding the  remittance of Emily’s taxes, to save her from the embarrassment of accepting charity. As a matter of fact, Emily’s father left her with nothing when he died.

Emily is at first described as ‘‘a small, fat woman in black who looks bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water, and of that pallid hue.†(Faulkener, p.2). even though she once represented a great southern practice centering on the landed gentry with their cosmic fortune and substantial possessions, her bequest slowly devolved, reducing her to a responsibility and a compulsion rather than a romanticized trace of a fading order. Even the town leaders expediently failed to notice the fact that in her straightened situation and private life, Emily could no longer meet her tax requirements with the town. At the end, Emily is portrayed as not only a financial burden to the town but also a stature of indignation for the reason that she unsettles the community’s stringent social codes.

Faulkener notice of the fact that while the men grace with their presence at her funeral out of requirement, the women go mainly since no one has been in Emily’s house for years. The grand house is depicted and described as ‘‘set on what had once been. . . the most select street.” (Faulkener, p.1).  The house highlighted a vivid picture of the aristocratic origin of Emily, but that no longer existed as both her house and its environs had long deteriorated. This house that fortified Emily from the world exemplifies the mind of the woman who inhabits it: shuttered, dusty, and dark. For the object of the town’s intense scrutiny, Emily is a subdued and mystifying figure. On one level, she portrays the qualities of the stereotypical southern peculiar deranged, extremely tragic, and subject to bizarre actions. Emily enforces her own logic of law and demeanor, such as when she declines to pay her taxes or affirm her intention for purchasing the poison. But it is not until when she takes the life of the man she loves that her dismissal of the law ultimately takes on more ominous consequences.

In addition, Emily is portrayed as the as a monument, a characteristic outsider, controlling and restraining the town’s access to her real identity and personality. At the same time she is pitied and often infuriating, trying to live life on her own terms and conditions. 

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