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Subjectivation through the Name-of-the-Father: A Lacanian Reading of William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily

Szu-Han Wang


This paper aims to interpret how the protagonist in William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily is re-identified under her father and the public’s repression, and to apply Lacan’s theory of “Name-of-the-Father” within two functions: to love and  forbid, to analyze how subjectivation takes place regarding a woman in a conservative American southern society. The short story begins with the whole town’s going to Emily Grieison’s funeral and “male” participants are especially stressed on possessing “respectful affection” for her. In such traditional society, it is a common phenomenon that women repressed by patriarchal hegemony live without subjectivity but in Emily’s burial rite, she is finally regarded a “fallen monument” instead of a desubjectivated individual. Emily even represents the “hereditary obligation and duty” in the town where simultaneously a black woman is not allowed to appear on the street without an apron. Due to the female protagonist’s surviving in such social background filled with sexism, the unusual outcome of Emily’s playing a representative “monument” among conservative southerners has aroused the significant issue that how subjectivation ultimately happens to a woman repressed by patriarchy. 


Subjectivation; Name-of-the-Father; Masculinity; Subjectivity

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