Author Shyza Chaudhry once said: "The worst kind of loneliness in the world is isolation that comes from being misunderstood. It can make people lose their grasp on reality." Chaudhry's words can be applied to the theme of isolation in both William Faulkner's short story "A Rose for Emily," and Edwin Arlington Robinson's poem "Richard Cory." In Faulkner's story, Emily is an eccentric recluse pitied by the people of her town and lives her entire life in isolation from the rest of the world. On the other hand, in Robinson's poem, Richard Cory is a man envied by all; yet, his loneliness from not having any contact with his community leads him to take his own life. Both authors use narrative perspective, setting, and situational irony to illustrate the theme of isolation in the literature. .
Faulkner and Robinson narrate with a first person pleural perspective, using an individual voice to represent an entire group of individuals. The use of this perspective allows the reader to feel as though they are part of the community; this involvement gives the reader a better understanding of the events taking place, and makes the stories seemingly more reliable. This perspective is also useful in creating mystery and suspense in the story, especially in "A Rose for Emily." In this story the reader can only make assumptions as to what will happen, as they know only as much as the narrator. The constant use of the pronouns "we" and "our" is also used to demonstrate the barrier between Emily and the townspeople. Her wealthy family has always been somewhat isolated from the community, they "had long thought of [her family] as a tableau" (Faulkner 116). After the death of her father, Emily increasingly keeps herself separated from the community, and because of her social status, they did not try to intervene. A first person pleural perspective is also used in "Richard Cory;" however, unlike in "A Rose for Emily," it is used to demonstrate the envy the townspeople feel towards Richard and his seemingly ideal life.