A Critical Analysis Of Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca

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Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca has captivated audiences since its initial release in 1938. Upon its initial publication, the novel did not receive the kind of critical acclaim one might expect from a novel with the commercial success at the time of its first publication and with such lasting influence. Sally Beauman writes in the afterword to the novel that while “some critics acknowledged the book’s haunting power and its vice-like narrative grip, but — perhaps misled by the book’s presentation, or prejudiced by the gender of the author — they delved no deeper” (Beauman 431). The novel was not merely overlooked, however. With the novel following the “the archetypal scenario for all those mildly thrilling romantic encounters between a scowling Byronic hero (who owns a gloomy mansion) and a trembling heroine (who can’t quite figure out the mansion’s floorplan)” (Gilbert and Gubar 337), it was and often continues to be seen as a rewriting of Jane Eyre into a more modern timeframe. While the similarities in both plot and structure are obvious, the criticism that du Maurier moved “progressive social agenda of the original novel backwards rather than forward with the substitution of the fiery, passionate Jane for the meek and mild unnamed heroine” (Williams 51) is problematic when considering the differences du Maurier made even when she chose certain aspects and settings of Brontë’s work to incorporate in her own. The narrative of a young, unnamed female heroine, who in
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