In William Faulkner’s short story, “A Rose for Emily” and Susan Glaspell’s short play writing of “Trifles” both establish the realization of isolation. From the help of the author and narrator, the two short stories are able to emphasize on the realization of isolation through how it affects a person. The main character, Emily in “A Rose for Emily”, experiences isolation from her hometown and society expectations, while the main character, Mrs. Wright in “Trifles” is isolated in her farmhouse. From these two short stories, the theme of isolation is represented in where the main characters live, personalities and even from their loved ones.
During the time of World War 1, women dealt with a lot of isolation because of being restricted to stay at home. In this time period, society expectations had isolated women. A female was prohibited from being educated and having a job. In addition, women were fighting for their rights and trying to modify the role of society expectations for a female. Women were wanting to make something for themselves and refused to stay home. In the writings of Mina Loy’s “Feminist Manifesto,” it discusses the opportunities for women to no longer be isolated to the stereotypical “mother or mistress.” Loy wrote that women should be identified as so much more and that they should have the right to express themselves. It was horrible for women to be isolated towards society because it leads to immense depression and lack of human interaction. The female characters in these two short stories also dealt with isolation in where they lived, but in a different way. In the play “Trifles” isolation is seen through Minnie’s farmhouse being deserted, “a gloomy kitchen, and left without being put in order” (743), Mrs. Wright is isolated on her farmhouse and has nowhere to go because her husband has died. Then in “A Rose for Emily,” the life of Emily Grierson is described as luxurious, “it was big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies” (998). Emily was born into a high class, wealthy family and because of this she became isolated from her town. The reader is able to portray the theme of isolation in both short stories, because of how the living situation is set up for the main characters.
The theme of isolation is also seen through the two characters, Mrs. Wright and Emily with how their personalities down cast. Before Mrs. Wright was married, her personality is described as playful and a free spirit who loves to sing. According to Mrs. Hale, “She used to sing real pretty herself” (747). Although after she had married her husband, John Wright, her personality slowly began to change. Mrs. Wright gave up on singing and started to adapt to the lifestyle of a house maid. Mrs. Wright had also stopped caring about her outward appearance and staying in touch with friends. From not retaining any relationships and her husband now deceased, Mrs. Wright’s social life began to slowly fade away and it lead her to a melancholy state. It is part of human nature to interact with people and build relationships. The life of Mrs. Wright in “Trifles”, is a great example of what isolation looks like with having to live alone in a farmhouse and being disconnected to your past life. However, in “A Rose for Emily” the story goes back in time to explain how Emily’s isolation began to develop when her father and soon to be fiancé had passed away. According to Faulkner, “After her father’s death she went out very little; after her sweetheart went away, people hardly saw her at all” (999). Her father and fiancé were the only two people she had in life and without them she became isolated. Her personality started to change with no longer caring about her appearance and becoming obese. In the story, Emily is described as, “bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water, and that of pallid hue” (999). Not only had her personality changed from isolation, but keeping her house in order. Emily had neglected her house, “when they sat down, a faint dust rose sluggishly about their thighs” (998). When Emily lost the two people in her life that meant the most to her, she became isolated and let everything go. In result, both of these characters experience isolation by losing who they were as a person.