Character Analysis of Two Literary Protagonists Essay

                                        Character Analysis of Two Literary Protagonists

            There are fictional stories that reveals the dark nature and reality of people - Character Analysis of Two Literary Protagonists Essay introduction. There are stories that provides an unpleasant ending and unlovable main characters not to dissatisfy the readers but

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to let the readers see and realize something significant. In the usual literature, main characters are usually good natured that makes them the hero for the entire story. In the classic short stories A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner and A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor however, the writers provide the readers with grotesque main characters. Their grotesqueness have been structured purposely to affirm their messages.

             A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner has been read and approached as a Gothic horror tale that explores an abnormal psychology about an unusual character named Emily who was completely attached to her aristocratic life in the past during the time when there was an apparent hierarchy of social classes. The setting of the story experience a tremendous change as industrialization and urbanization approaches them especially in case of Emily who grew up in the aristocratic family. Social classes and special attention to the upper class were subtly discouraged since several social movements’ calls for equality. Due to change a woman shuts herself off from the rest of the world simply because she feels unaccepted as she still perceives herself different from the people in her community. However her isolation and pride makes her a lonely woman throughout her life. In the short story A Good Man is Hard to Find on the other hand the grandmother, who is the protagonist, reflects superficialness. The grandmother’s actions and behavior in the initial and middle part of the story reflect her readiness for death but the family’s encounter with a villain during a travel shows her horror and unreadiness. Apparently the two women in the stories are externally presented negatively but this presentation became a useful tool to reveal their psychological realities.

            Uniquely narrated in the first person perspective with the use of we, “A Rose for Emily” is a story about a woman named Emily who has a strong attachment or dependence on her father. It seems time stopped when her father died that contributed to Emily’s refusal to see and accept change. She experienced true aristocracy with her father who ruled her life and constructed a different reality for her. He let her believe that she is different from anybody else and that no man truly deserves her. Her father’s restrictions towards her and her social roles dominated her life even after her father’s death. Social roles in the life of Emily restrain her to explore her extent. When her father’s died, her peculiar behaviors made the community view her as having “hereditary obligations” to maintain certain traditions that had been established generations before her during the Old South (Getty, n.p.).Emily’s character created mystery in the community and so they subtly enjoyed talking and assuming many things about her. But at the end of the story during Emily’s death, some subtly realize that somehow Emily was as well a victim who deserves sympathy and attention and thus was considered a tragic heroine. Perhaps if the community only look and examine closer towards Emily’s life, perhaps everything became different. Meanwhile, other readers may perceive this horrifying when the people in town discovered the secret of Emily after her death. She has kept the body of her lover named Homer Baron locked in a separate bedroom after she killed him years before. However, the body was not alone. The Northern man had been locked with an embrace since behind the indented pillow was a strand of iron-gray hair of Emily. The dead man had not died without love and attention. It was a horrifying in a way that Homer’s death was not given social justice. It was sad for Emily who wanted to give love and be loved, but the circumstances and public opinion will no permit her so. The morality of Miss Emily Grierson was not justified at the end of the story. The consequences of her isolation and pride made the townspeople pity her all the more. However, her solitude made her missed significant chances of her happiness. Though destiny and fate is a choice, the factors that influenced Emily’s choices must be considered. The narrator was so clever on how he presented Emily not as an antagonist but a woman that has to be sympathized with which made the readers see her as a victim. The rose in the story can be incorporated to the narrator’s compassionate nature towards Emily. “The only rose that Emily actually receives (putting aside symbolic rose for the moment), is the rose in the title, which Faulkner as the author gives to her” (Getty 4). The rose in the title illustrates affection from the narrator by which Emily, after her father’s death, never receives again. As the narrator says, Emily is a “huge meadow which no winter ever touches”.

            “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is a short story written by Flannery O’Connor in 1955 that focuses on the grandmother’s perspective of events. The story primarily revolves on the humorous portrayal of a family embarking on a vacation. It is a confrontation of a family with violence and surprised death. The story begins when a typical Southern family is being challenged by the grandmother to take the vacation to Tennessee instead of Florida. She panicked that they might encounter the convicted killer who is being rumored to be heading on the South. The grandmother is unfortunately ignored by the family and firmly decided to take the vacation on Florida. The grandmother in the story reflects superficialnes. This reflects when “the next morning the grandmother was the first one in the car, ready to go” despite her strong disagreement for Florida’s trip the other day (O’Connor). The grandmother had on a navy blue straw sailor hat with a bunch of white violets on the brim and a navy blue dress with a small white dot in the print (O’ Connor, 1995). Her primary purpose is for people to recognize her that she’s a lady in case she was found dead. Her actions and behavior can be interpreted as her readiness for death but the family’s encounter with Misfit shows her horror and unreadiness. The character of Misfit though is opposite to the grandmother’s ignorance and tolerance. Though he was portrayed as the antagonist and villain, O’ Connor portrayed him as a deep person potential to be wise and profound. The Misfit has a much deeper understanding of a religion which he greatly manifested when he “asks the grandmother if it seems right that Jesus was punished and he has escaped punishment”. Misfit revealed mankind at their worst who treated him cruelly. In his conversation with the grandmother he asked a lot of questions about religion that the grandmother superstitiously and ignorantly answered. Misfit who can’t answer his questions metaphysically and spiritually unconsciously relied on the violence of the physical world as a means of escape and survival.  The Misfit is portrayed as a keen observant of the world while the grandmother is portrayed as a devout Catholic who lacks compassion and humility. The story with the grandmother’s and Misfit’s encounter stresses the importance of being a good Christian than looking like a good Christian, when the story shows the transformation in the grandmother as the story progresses. One of the most violent portrayals of the grandmother is when she’s trying to protect herself for being murdered even if her family around her struggle to survive from death. It shows her human nature of selfishness who regards her life more than anything else.

            The short story A Rose for Emily suggests how modernization and change can affect people. Not all people can enjoy change, especially when these people enjoy the comfort of who they are in the past, like Emily. Afraid that she may not get the same respect that she received before, she was unable to accept change. However, as a consequence, she was rejected by the people around her. Her pride and arrogance unconsciously affected her choices that defined her fate and destiny. The story A Good Man is Hard to Find however has a distracting and violent ending that is vital to fully understand the story. The author purposely created the short story as a way of social awakening about the real essence and meaning of Christianity. Christianity as a religion should give importance to inward transformation than merely outward manifestations. The story also ironically presented how a simple misstep can lead to death and destruction. The grotesqueness of Emily and the grandmother’s character created various interpretations about the psychological human nature and the society as a whole.

                                                                       Work Cited Page:

Getty, Laura. Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily. The Explicator(2005). Literature Resource

Center (2009). pp.1-4

O’ Connor, Flannery. Asals, Frederick 1993. “A Good Man is Hard to Find”. Britain: Rutgers

            University Press

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