Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca: Disparities Between Upper and Working Class Women

1180 WordsJul 17, 20185 Pages
Disparities between upper and working class women and their roles in society are made very obvious in gothic literature. However, they are especially highlighted in Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, in which the protagonist sits between the upper and lower classes because of her own choice to marry a man from a higher class than herself. In the time period that the book was written, there were still large distinctions in class, though it was also a period that allowed for more social mobility because the older distinctions in class were beginning to fall away. The protagonist’s choice to marry a man so far above her in social class sets the stage for a love story that challenges society’s expectations of a woman’s role in her marriage and…show more content…
For example, Maxim’s grandmother’s moment of senility causes his wife great embarrassment, because the statement made earlier on in the story about his sister Beatrice, that “if she doesn’t like you, she’ll tell you so, to your face”, is also true about his grandmother, an upper class woman comparing Mrs. de Winter to Rebecca (du Maurier, 78). Though she still does not notice Maxim’s occasional harsh treatment of her because of her love for him, she is most painfully aware that other characters keep a close eye on her, waiting to make judgments. The other characters of the novel reward Rebecca’s rampant and wild behavior because she did what was expected of the upper class woman in terms of social expectations, whereas the inexperienced behavior of Mrs. de Winter often only wins her resentment and harsh judgement from others. The protagonist’s marriage to Maxim establishes exactly what kind of expectations will be heaped on her by the surrounding people and life, and “her conformity to a domestic discourse compels her to establish a division between Rebecca and herself”, subconsciously placing Rebecca on a level above herself (Miquel-Baldellou, 33). Mrs. Danvers, who shows general dislike towards the new Mrs. de Winter, is the main contributor to and often the symbol of the narrator’s inability to reach the same standards that Rebecca set. The housekeeper, despite the protagonist’s honest effort to be a good wife and mistress of the house, still

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