All You Need Is Love
In William Faulkners short story A Rose for Emily and Anton Chekhovs Misery, one can see many similarities and differences in the way Emily and Iona react to the loss of a loved one. Both stories show the main characters (who have suffered the loss) going a little crazy at some point. However, Emily in A Rose for Emily lost her father and wants to shut the world out, while Iona in Misery lost his son and desperately wants someone to talk to. Yet by the end of each story, the main character still manages to do something good for somebody else despite all the pain they are battling within them.
Faulkner portrays Emily to be mysterious and a stubborn woman. She is a woman who perhaps refuses to accept the change that is going on in the world. Emily had been constantly reminded, when her father was alive, that no man had ever been good enough for her, only her father. After he dies she is still in such denial that she believes he is still living. Chekhov portrays Iona to be confused, lonely, dazed, and as a man who needs someone to open his heart up to as to which all humans want and need during such a hard time. Also that Iona is desperate for attention that it becomes obvious that he is saying that everybody needs somebody.
There are a few instances throughout each story where the main character proves to be a little bit deranged. Iona, who has a job much like that of a cab driver but with horse and buggy, drives on the wrong side of the road and his passenger shouts Have you cracked you old dog? Look where youre going!(Chekov 84). Emily, on the other hand stops communicating with everyone except her Negro. Local town officials even had to knock on the door which no visitor had passed in eight or ten years just to collect her overdue income taxes (Faulkner 238). Other people in the believe that Emily will also try to kill herself when she is seen at the local pharmacy telling the technician she wants the best poison he has and she doesnt care what kind (Faulkner 241). These types of behavior are extra frightening with people who are undergoing so much sadness.
A main difference between the two characters would be that Iona is desperate for anybodys attention, while Emily just wants the world to leave her alone. Iona makes several attempts in the story to talk to someone about his son, even to strangers he does not know (Chekov 85). In contrast, Emily stops all interaction with the world and stops leaving her house for over two decades. Daily, monthly, yearly the towns people watched the Negrogoing in and out with a basket to do Emilys shopping for her (Faulkner 243). Iona finally becomes so overwhelmed, he opens up to his horse while she calmly munches, listens, and breathes (Chekov 86). This shows he is desperate for anyone to lend him an ear. With no one to listen to his pain it is as if he is breaking down on himself, falling apart from the inside out. Obviously, the two characters feel differently towards people while dealing with a loss.
Despite all the pain and apparent troubles in dealing with their problems, both characters find it in their hearts to do something nice for somebody else. In her will, Emily leaves her house to her Negro; the only one she has had contact with in years. Im trying to fix you so youll neither to worry nor have to lift a hand ever again, she tells him (Faulkner 243). She does this because without her he would have no money, no job, and no place to live. Iona also continues to work hard and continue on with his responsibilities, not only so he can earn enough money to feed himself, but also to take care of his horse. He also feels horrible that he did not make enough to feed his horse oats, and was forced to feed him hay. (Chekov 86). Both prove to still have a bit of unselfishness even in despondent times.
In A Rose for Emily and Misery one can see several similarities and differences in the way the main characters deal with the loss of a loved one. Both characters show deranged qualities in their behavior. Emily decides to shut the world out and deal with her loss on her own, while Iona is begging for anyones patience and attention. Last but not least, both characters do a good deed for somebody else out of the kindness of their hearts, despite the obvious pain they are facing. Like the Beatles once said, All you need is love!
Chekhov, Anton. Trans. Constance Garnett. Misery. Literature for Composition. Ed. Sylvan Barnet. New York; Longman, 2007. 83-86. Print.
Faulkner, William. A Rose for Emily. Literature for Composition. Ed. Sylvan Barnet. New York; Longman. 2007. 237-244. Print.