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"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again."
This opening line from Rebecca is one of the most powerful, most recognized, in all of literature. For more than sixty years, audiences around the world have praised Daphne du Maurier's novel as a spellbinding blend of mystery, horror, romance, and suspense. In this book, readers can see the traditions of romantic fiction, such as the helpless heroine, the strong-willed hero, and the ancient, imposing house that never seems to unlock its secrets. Using elements familiar to audiences of romances through the ages, from the moody and wind-swept novels of the Brontė sisters in the 1840s to the inexpensive entertainments of today, Rebecca stands out as a superb example of melodramatic storytelling. Modern readers considered this book a compelling page-turner, and it is fondly remembered by most who have read it.
The story concerns a woman who marries an English nobleman and returns with him to Manderley, his country estate. There, she finds herself haunted by reminders of his first wife, Rebecca, who died in a boating accident less than a year earlier. In this case, the haunting is psychological, not physical: Rebecca does not appear as a ghost, but her spirit affects nearly everything that takes place at Manderley. The narrator, whose name is never divulged, is left with a growing sense of distrust toward those who loved Rebecca, wondering just how much they resent her for taking Rebecca's place. In the final chapters, the book turns into a detective story, as the principal characters try to reveal or conceal what really happened on the night Rebecca died.
1.Is Rebecca a ghost story? Why or why not?
2.Discuss the role of Mrs. Danvers in the novel.
3.Discuss the character of Maxim. How are his actions consistent or inconsistent with this character?
4. Is justice served at the end of the novel? Why or why not?
5. Discuss the role of Manderley in the novel--both the house itself and its grounds and beach. How does setting contribute to the book's plot? To the book's tone?
6. Discuss the elements that make Rebecca a work of gothic literature.
7. Discuss the role of Jack Favell in the story. Does he help to shed light on Rebecca's character? How does he impact the plot?
8. Analyze the heroine's marriage to Maxim. How does their relationship develop during the course of the novel?
9. Why does the heroine remain nameless? Is this namelessness symbolic?
10. Discuss the role of the Oedipus/Electra complex in the novel.