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Payback

Ruth Kabel (1998) of Northern Virginia Community College proposed the following revenge theory:

This is a sad story of a girl who was forced by her dominating father to grow up alone. There is no indication she was allowed to do any of the normal things people in her town did. In the story, it's mentioned her father drove away any young men who might have wanted to marry her. He must have wanted her to focus all her attention on him. After her father dies, while she is free of him physically, I'm sure he haunted her mind. I think by having an affair with a man, very out of character considering her upbringing, and then killing that man, she was getting back at her father. Emily's controlling father would have hated what she had done. I think she was unconsciously trying to pay her father back for her terrible childhood.

What do you say?

Brooke (2003) adds a complication: "I did some research, and I found it quite interesting that in those days, a small pinch of arsenic could be used for at-home abortions--which causes bloating in the user."

Jennifer (2003) sees the revenge motive: "I think that this was a way for her to get back at her dad. Because he kept her from men so long, I think she felt that once he was gone it was her time to shine with men. And that is what she did. She was also trying to prove herself to her father that she was okay when she was around men. She was rebelling like some teenagers do when they are not allowed to date."

Jason (1999; JSRCC) points out the symbolism of the whip in the tableau that is, perhaps, the earliest moment referred to in the story: "The whip represents the power that Mrs. Emily's father had over her. That picture presents a sense of him being the master while Ms. Emily is the slave. Recall how her father had turned away all her suitors. Even in his death the power that he had over her did not go away. She refused to let his body be removed from the house insisting that he was not dead. She did this because he was all that she knew--the only man in her life that was always there."

Dan (1999; Northern Va. CC) sees the whip as a symbol of power: "I think that among other symbols the whip could be viewed as a sign of power, control and enforcement. Emily certainly was the subject of all three of these during here life with her father. This way of life may have been what lead her to react to the outside world the way she did, trying to regain some type of control and power that she saw from her father. "