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- Common Themes in Literature
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Rebecca Study Guide
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Rebecca by Daphne Du MaurierStudy Guide
- Rebecca Study Guide
- Rebecca Study Guide Part 2
Gothic Tradition: Rebecca has been called the first and best gothic romance of the twentieth century. Before you start reading it, you might want to review what you have already learned about the “gothic tradition” in literature. Your earlier studies of Poe’s short stories will help you understand Rebecca. Gothic literature often contains the following characteristics:
- subtle or obvious use of the supernatural
- individual characters who see themselves at the mercy of forces out of their control, which they do not understand
- motif of the “double” - an individual with both good and evil characteristics; a house with a “good” side and a “bad” side
- often involves the persecution of a young, insecure, fair-haired woman who is forced apart from her true love
- hero-villains who are haunted by the past
- often a secondary character with a disability will offer words of unusual insight and truth, which may be disregarded by the primary characters
- a witch-like character
- dream experiences
- a circular structure (begins and ends at same place)
- elements of death and decay, blood and violence, and fear of death
- dark mysterious houses that seem to take on a personality of their own
- common images: black, moon, moonlight, snakes, cobwebs, spiders, covered furniture (looks ghostly), fur, pounding seas, thunderstorms
STARTING THE NOVEL: quirky beginning with a dream sequence. Stick with the book. The first 20 pages or so set the MOOD for the book by describing some place. This place will play an important part in the book later.
- One of the most famous first lines begins the novel, “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” At some point as you read the novel, the meaning of this line will become clear. Jot it down here.
- What are the setting and circumstances at the beginning of the book?
- What has happened to Manderley?
- As memories of Jasper, Manderley, Favell, and Mrs. Danvers (whoever they all are) float through the narrator’s mind, a flashback takes us back to the narrator’s late teenage years. What trip does the narrator remember?
- Who is Mrs. Van Hopper? What type of person is she?
- Why is Maxim de Winter in mourning?
- When Mrs. Van Hopper gets sick, the narrator ends up lunching with someone. Explain why that lunch turns out to be important.
- Who is Rebecca, and how is she connected to a book of poetry?
- Fill in this quote: “We can ____________ go back _______________, that much is certain. The _____________ is still too __________________ for us.”
- What effect does Maxim have on the narrator?
- Explain this quote (p. 37), “I’d like to keep this moment and never forget it.”
- What do you think represents the “great gulf” between Maxim and the narrator represents? Explain your answer, noting pages 37-41.
- Why does Rebecca become a phantom to the narrator?
- In chapter 6, what happens to change the course of events?
- Explain the narrator’s vision of what the future holds for her and Maxim. How does Mrs. Van Hopper react?
- Describe Manderley as the narrator first sees it.
- Who is Frith? What are your first impressions of him?
- Who is Mrs. Danvers? What are your first impressions of her?
- The narrator senses a distance developing between herself and Maxim. Why does she think it is happening?
- Rebecca seems like a ghost at times, but she doesn’t need to appear in bodily form. Who keeps her presence “alive” in the house? Why?
- Danvers would tell you the name of the real mistress of Manderley. Who would that be?
- Explain the statement (p. 90), “[Mrs. Danvers] came...as though she were a warden and I in custody.”
The clues about Rebecca continue....
- Who arrives for a visit and what effect does this have on the new Mrs. de Winter?
- The narrator puts on the infamous raincoat and she and Maxim go for a walk. What happens, and why do they quarrel?
- Who is Frank Crawley?
- What information about Rebecca does Frank Crawley offer?
- Who is Beatrice, and what information does she offer about Rebecca?
- Beatrice and Giles rarely visited the house while Rebecca was alive, and now they come often. Explain.
Rebecca Study Guide Part 2