In William Faulkner's short story "A Rose for Emily", the use of gothic elements help to set the proper atmosphere needed to convince the reader that the story is possible. With the gothic writing style, the writer captures the decay of society, life, and love in the post Civil War South, and the horrors that human beings are capable of committing against themselves and one another. The mystery of the story is set off perfectly by the style in which it is written. In any other writing style it would not be believable that the crimes of Emily would be unknown. It would just be a story about a crazy woman who kills her lover. But within the gothic genre the gruesome details of such crimes are wholly believable and the crime itself seems justifiable if not romantic. In any other genre this crime and the actions carried out after it would be nothing less than horrifying.
The atmosphere of the story is presented to the reader within the second paragraph. "Only Miss Emily's house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps-an eyesore among eyesores." The words used for the description of a dilapidated house alone are enough to bring the imagination into play, visions of rambling houses once beautiful and proud falling into irreversible disrepair among the streets of such cities as New Orleans, draw the reader into the story from the beginning and set the mood. The language even spreads to such a seemingly small matter of Emily's handwriting, "paper of an archaic shape, in a thin, flowing calligraphy in faded ink,". Such descriptive language is typical of gothic literature and sets the atmosphere of the idea in stone.
The plot of the story is enhanced and forwarded by the atmosphere. If the atmosphere were of any other type, the plot would not be believable. If the atmosphere was not gothic, the reader would be able to deduce that Emily had killed Homer as soon as she bought the arsenic.