Analysis Of Daphne Du Maurier: A Vocabulary Of Power

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Daphne du Maurier (1907-1989) was an English author and playwright, who was born into a creative and successful family of actors and artists. In 1938, du Maurier published her fifth piece of fiction Rebecca, which this essay will take as its focus as it considers the statement, 'Popular forms can be used to protest against power '. To begin, it is important to dissect this statement, discerning what exactly is meant by 'Popular ', 'protest ' and 'power ' and who indeed is doing the using. Initially, we should look to define 'popular forms '. David Johnson (2005) in his Introduction to Varieties of the Popular cites Raymond Williams 's Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society (1983) and the given definition of the word popular is…show more content…
In addition to the power that obviously lies with Maxim, is that which the novel 's narrator comes to hold when she learns of how Rebecca met with her end. For the second Mrs de Winter, power comes with knowledge. When her husband reveals to her the truth about what happened to his wife, she becomes empowered. For example, she is now able to handle Mrs Danvers wickedness as well as the shadowy legacy of Rebecca at Manderley, '”I 'm afraid it does not concern me very much what Mrs de Winter used to do […] I am Mrs de Winter now, you know” ' (du Maurier, 1938, p.326). This maturation or development of character from the mild, demure young companion to Mrs Van Hopper into the strong and assertive woman that faces down Mrs Danvers and becomes ancillary to the murder of her predecessor could be said to reveal something of the author 's understanding of women and their position within society at the time of writing. Moreover, this development can be linked to the statement 'Popular forms can be used to protest against power '. That is to say that the narrator becomes more than what was at the time expected of a woman. And in a similar way to how Rebecca herself protested against the power of a dominant male society by a means of reckless behaviour, the second Mrs de Winter in the latter stages of the novel, could also be said to be challenging the societal model of the domesticated wife that one would perhaps find in other works of the period and those from before. However, one must also acknowledge the changing expectations and aspirations of women during the inter-war period. Until this time, much of the representation of women in literature had depicted them as being primarily charged with the management of the home and the care of the family. Du Maurier 's two Mrs de Winter 's do not fit this domestic ideal. Understandably, one of the reasons for this was the fact that they were able to employ home help, but another
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