Literature offers a unique view into the human experience. Writers share their ideas about life through language, literary devices, and imagery. The human experience of love is one that every person can relate to. Three examples of literature that share this theme of love are: “A Rose for Emily”, “Love Song”, and “A Doll’s House”. Although some of the stories deal with family and parental love, this paper will focus on the aspect of romantic love.
In the story “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner romantic love was between Emily and the doomed Homer Barron; the poem “Love Song” by Joseph Brodsky gives the declarations of a man in love; and finally in the drama “A Doll’s House” Nora is fighting for the romantic love of her husband Torvald Helmer.
Love is a shared theme in these stories, and the literature portrays this human experience in ways that allow the reader to better understand the mystery of romantic love.
Romantic Love The story of “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner tells the sad tale of Emily Grierson. The story opens with Emily’s death. Her mortality sets the mood for this story of loss and sorrow. Although Emily has issues with parental and family love in this story the theme of romantic love is one that is truly tragic. Emily is the protagonist of the story. Her desire for love leads her to Homer Barron. Mr. Barron has come to Emily’s southern town to help in paving sidewalks.
The ladies of town who still perceive Emily as part of a high society southern family do not believe that Emily could consider Homer Barron, “of course a Grierson would not think seriously of a Northerner, a day laborer” (Barnet, Cain, & Burto, 2011, p. 241, para. 2). Emily does fall in love with Homer. Unfortunately the story leads us to believe that Homer was not seriously interested in Emily. “Homer himself had remarked – he liked men, and …he was not a marrying man” (Barnet, Cain, & Burto, 2011, p. 42, para. 1).
Emily is found buying poison around this time. Homer Barron disappears. With the close of the story Emily dies. The house is opened and it is revealed that the dead body of Homer Barron is laid out in an upstairs bedroom “this room decked…as for a bridal…the man’s toilet things back with tarnished silver…the man himself lay in the bed…we noticed…the second pillow was the indentation of a head…a long strand of iron-gray hair” (Barnet, Cain, & Burto, 2011, pps. 243 & 244, paras. 8, 1, & 3).
Emily had been in love with Homer, but he did not return this love. Emily did not want to lose her love so she killed Homer and kept him with her. “Love Song” is a poem by Joseph Brodsky that is one man’s declaration of romantic love to a woman. The poem uses multiple metaphors of how much the man loves the woman. The wording reveals that the author has very conflicting views of romantic love which are often conflicting (Shippon, 2006). He offers to save her from drowning, yet then states he would arrest her and keep her imprisoned.
Brodsky declares that he would try to make the woman happy when he says “if you were a bird, I’d cut a record and listen all night long to your high-pitched trill…if you were Chinese, I’d learn the language, burn a lot of incense, wear funny clothes, if you were a mirror, I’d storm the Ladies, give you my red lipstick and puff your nose” (Barnet, Cain, & Burto, 2011, p. 734). These declarations appear to show how the man would do things to impress the woman.
Then Brodsky goes on to refer to love as a duty, obligation, and trap when he writes “if you were a sheriff, I’d arrest you…if I were a sergeant, you’d be my recruit…if you were my wife, I’d be your lover because the church is firmly against divorce” (Barnet, Cain, & Burto, 2011, p. 734). Brodsky’s ideas of romantic love give readers a picture of how complex love can be. “A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen gives another sad account of the complexities of romantic love. “A Doll’s House” is a drama play that centers on the character of Nora Helmer.
Nora goes through tremendous change in the course of the play as her ideas about love transform. Nora starts Act 1 as a childish girl trying to please her husband, Torvald; in Act 2 Nora acts out of desperation to save her marriage; then in Act 3 Nora comes to the realization that her husband never truly loved her at all (Bradford, 2012). Nora’s ideas of love are clouded by her relationship with her father. She carries on this relationship with her husband living as a source of entertainment and possession rather than a loving partner.
Nora explains this when she says “I have existed to perform tricks for you, Torvald…I have been your doll-wife, just as at home I was papa’s doll-child…I thought it great fun when you played with me…that is what our marriage has been” (Barnet, Cain, & Burto, 2011, p. 838). Ibsen portrays the romantic love between Nora and Torvald as being childish and confused. When the character of Nora realizes that she does not really love Torvald she leaves to find someone who loves her for who she is. The connection between these three examples of literature is the hopes and ideals of romantic love.
Romantic love is a human experience that all people desire. Different authors may portray the complexities of love in different ways, but the truth remains that people will do almost anything for love, such as kill the love who threatens to leave them as in “A Rose for Emily”; fight for love, try to impress someone for love, and do things they do not want to for love as in the poem “Love Song”; and try to be something that they are not to make the person they love happy as in “A Doll’s House”. The use of specific literary devices
A literary technique or device is any element or the entirety of elements a writer intentionally uses in the structure of their work. An author will use a literary device in short stories, plays, poems, and novels. There are several types of literary devices that can be used such as imagery, symbolism, and descriptive words to build the theme of a story. We will discuss the different literary devices that are used in “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulker, “Love Song” by Joseph Brodsky and “A Doll’s House” by Henrick Isben.
In William Faulker’s short story “A Rose for Emily, a series of literary devices were used to create the theme of the story, which was about Emily searching for love and acceptance. Faulker used foreshadowing throughout the story. He stated in the first line of the story “when Emily died, our whole town went to her funeral; he explains that the men go out of respect and the women go out of curiosity” (Barnet, Cain, & Burto, 2011, p. 241).
Symbolism was also used throughout the story and was a main factor in getting the reader to understand the theme of the short story. The title “A Rose for Emily’ is an example of the symbolism used. The rose represents the absence of love that Emily feels. Also, one of the most effective elements that the author used in his development of the theme is the use of imagery. He portrays Homer Barron and Emily’s father as sort of villains who are preventing love. A reader can also see the symbolism used in “Love Song” by Joseph Brodsky.
Brodsky describes multiple metaphors within the poem declaring that he would do anything for his love. He uses descriptive words, such as “If you were Chinese, I’d learn the languages, burn a lot of incense, wear funny clothes” and “If you loved volcanoes, I’d be lava relentlessly erupting from my hidden source” (Barnet, Cain, & Burto, 2011, p. 734). These descriptive words were used to express to the reader the way that Brodsky felt about this girl who he was in love with.
In “A Doll’s House” by Henrick Isben the use of animal imagery are used mainly over the other literary devices. The animal imagery was used in the description of the main character in the play, Nora. This allows the reader to form a development of the character Nora. Isben uses words in the conversations between Nora and her Torvald. Torvald states in the beginning of the play “Is it my little lark tweeting out here? ”(Barnet, Cain, & Burto, 2011, p. 838). This tells the reader that Torvald considers Nora a possession, instead of an equal.
Torvald also refers to Nora as a squirrel on different occasions, to indicate that Nora is sneaky or negative. The use of the animal imagery helps to build the characters of Nora and Torvald and the relationship of husband and wife. Symbolism was also used in this play. The symbol of the Christmas tree was used in the play in order to help set up the theme that everything may seem perfect, but as the play comes to an end, Nora breaks away from her marriage to go find herself.