In the short story “A Rose for Emily”, the reader can conclude that Emily appears to have had schizophrenia by way she interacts in the town. Emily’s mental problems start to come to light to the reader when she begins having hallucinations. The reader gains further background and further sees mental instability in Emily right after her father dies. The town people also begin to see that there are mental issues with Emily, yet do not want to make it known to keep the integrity of the town. Emily’s inability to form age appropriate coping skills furthers the point of schizophrenia. The schizophrenia diagnosis begins to come to the surface to the reader when men come collecting tax from her house. Emily tells the men, “See Colonel Sartoris. I have no taxes in Jefferson” when Colonel Sartoris had been dead almost ten years (Faulkner, 2012, p. 85). The hallucination of the Colonel as she argues about the taxes is the beginning signs of a schizophrenic state.
After the death of Emily’s father, the reader starts seeing how she cannot go through the stages of grief. Emily starts out with not showing grief over the death of her father. Then the reader sees Emily is unable to except that her father is dead. When the town people come to console Emily, “She told them her father was not dead. She did that for three days…Just as they were about to resort to law and force, she broke down, and they buried her father quickly” (Faulkner, 2012, p. 86). The reader can see Emily’s coping skills are not age appropriate or situational appropriate. The reader sees how Emily stops taking care of her own personal needs as well. Emily stops all personal hygiene and grooming needs, this made her appear old and fat. Emily’s transformation from a beautiful young lady in to a fat, old, unclean woman further adds to mental instability.
The reader adds this as more evidence of Emily’s gradual growth in to schizophrenia. The reader sees the characters in the story also begin to see mental instability in Emily. Emily goes to the druggist to buy poison in which to kill her lover. The druggist reluctantly sells her the poison. The characters believe Emily was going to kill herself with the arsenic. Instead Emily kills her lover so that he would never leave her. He was not going to marry Emily. In Emily’s mental instability she kills her lover so that he would always be hers, and no one could take him from her. The final concrete conclusion of schizophrenic mental state to the reader comes at the end of the story. After Emily’s death the characters as well as the readers find out the Emily had been sleeping in the bed with his dead body for many years after his death, until she could no longer make it up the stairs.
Faulkner, W. (2012). A Rose for Emily. In M. Meyer (Ed.), The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature (9th ed., pp. 84-90). New York: Bedford/ St. Martin’s.