Written by Steven Perreault


A Comparison between "A Rose for Emily" and Psycho (movie by Alfred Hitchcock)

    I’m convinced that everybody remembers a particular house in which you felt uncomfortable because the house was dusty, decaying, and strangely dark. It wasn’t the house itself that made you shiver, but your fertile imagination and all the thoughts that you had. The creepy house is one of the themes that I will compare using William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” and Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece Psycho.

    In 1930, when Faulkner wrote his short story, he presented a creepy house. A house that no one took care or repaired for years and it quickly became dilapidated. A house where secrets were buried and sealed in. Hitchcock’s house is now famous and today serves as a tourist attraction. The now famous Bates mansion was first built to create and bring a strange atmosphere in the movie. The house symbolized the mystery, the secret of Hitchcock’s main character Norman Bates. The sinister mansion is always seen in the background of the motel, mostly during dusk.

      Another theme that is used by both authors is loneliness. Emily Grierson lives a lonesome life in her old house with her black servant: “ He talked to no one, probably not even to her…” (p. 488). The author describes her lifestyle as follows: “dear, inescapable, impervious, tranquil, and perverse” (p. 488). Those adjectives clearly demonstrate that Emily lives her life surrounded by memories of the past in her big empty house. In Psycho, the loneliness of Norman Bates is mostly due to the fact that his house and the Bates motel were built next to the old highway. The new main road doesn’t lead to the motel, so only lost travelers stop there for the night… In addition of trying to save the non-thriving business, Norman has to take care of his “mother”, so that’s why he doesn’t have any friends. However, he’s known in the town as a calm and nice young man.

    Both stories talk about a murder. In “ A Rose for Emily”, the main character kills her lover with arsenic because she wants to keep him with her forever and she doesn’t want him to leave her ( there are also other explanations to the murder). This way of thinking reflects Emily’s insanity. In the movie Psycho, the murder scene in the shower is now a classic of the horror genre. Bernard Herrmann’s violins  help to establish an ambience of terror. The Norman Bates’ “mother” kills Marion Crane in the shower with a kitchen knife.

    The reason is simple: Norman has a crush on his new client and his “mother” didn’t like it. Norman’s “mother” wants to protect her son from perversion and vice.

      Subsequent to the gothic house, the loneliness and the crimes, both masterful storytellers use the themes of hidden secret and mystery. Emily lives a life based on her past. Her father always refused all of the different escorts who came to see his daughter. She spent a lot of time in her big house. After the death of her father, she meets a man and you all know what happened. Nevertheless, the people in the town don’t. There are stories running around and everybody has an opinion, but no one really knows Emily’s secrets: “Already we knew that there was one room in that region above stairs which no one had seen in forty years, and which would have to be forced.” (p. 488). Norman Bates’ secrets are linked with the existence of his “mother”. In the movie, he talks a little with Marion about his life and about his mother. He becomes very angry when she tells him that he would be happier living his life somewhere else and without his mother. The thing is that she doesn’t know that Norman’s mother died years ago, and that he lives alone with her dead body in the mansion. He became insane when she died and now lives a double-life. He wears her mom’s dresses and talks like her. At the end of the movie, when he’s arrested, his “mother” now has total control over his life.

      Both William Faulkner and Alfred Hitchcock created shocking ending for their masterpieces. They succeeded throughout the short story and the movie to create a terrifying and mysterious impression. Those genius men’s works are now undeniable American classics of the genre.