An Analysis of the Main Character in Rebecca by Du Maurier

2019-11-07 03:49:26 校园英语·下旬 2019年10期

【Abstract】This study will take feminism as the theoretical support to study the main character in the novel Rebecca by the British novelist Du Maurier. The enlightenment and development of feminism are seen as the background of this study. Due to the particularity of the work, the authors life is also included in as a key part of study, and it plays a certain role in Rebeccas text analysis. It is also an important part of the interpretation of Rebecca from the perspective of social and personal interests. Finally, starting from the core feminist issues (combining with the original work, more efforts will be put on the right to education and the right to marriage), this paper analyzes the behavioral motivation and destiny of Rebecca.

【Key words】 Feminism ; Rebecca; du Maurier ; Equal Rights



Originated during the enlightenment period, feminism broke out wildly in the French revolution and became one of the ideological trends that influenced the world. According to literature, feminism is a range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve political, economic, personal, and social equality of sexes. (Hawkesworth 25-27); (Beasley 3-11) Several feminist movements were held to fight for feminine rights, including the right to earn fair wages or equal pay, to own property, to receive education, to have equal rights within marriage.

2. Analysis on Rebecca in the View of Feminism

(1)The author and Rebecca

According to Margaret Forster, a biographer who has great achievement on researching du Maurier, the great authors marriage was of ignorance and indifference when she was indulged in writing. Her children, especially the girls, could not be taken care as supposed. (ibid) And she moved to Cornwall soon after her husbands death in 1965.

(2)Text analysis of Rebecca

Rebecca is a complex character who perfectly adapted to the requirements on women in the patriarchal society. (Ai 881-882) In the novel, the hero--Maxims old grandmother says, a woman has three virtues, intelligence, beauty, sound education. (Du Maurier 159)In this way, Rebecca is a wife worthy to be praised.

Was she destroyed by her unacceptable personality? Deep inside her, Rebecca is a complete deviant. Women are required to be modest, but she turns out to be debauchery. A woman is expected to remain humble, but she likes to show off in public. (Liu 67-69)The research will be conducted on the social aspect and the individual rights aspect.

(3)Rebecca on the social aspect

Is such a seemingly perfect woman fully accepted, despite her personal morals? Apparently not. She will be praised when showing the expected femininity. Though she is so exceptional (in the eyes of the public) and so dedicated, when her rights conflicts with her husbands, the local sheriff does not hesitate to take his side in covering up the killing. Julians behavior could be interpreted as sympathy for the gentry of his same rank, the beneficiaries of a patriarchal society.

(4)Rebecca in terms of personal rights

First, she is well educated. Smart, omnipotent, and even precocious, after the loss of her mother at a young age, with extraordinary intelligence she would make her father and brother firmly in control. As a woman, no matter how shrewd and capable she is, could not choose to keep single until she finally meets the one. But after marriage, the woman must be unconditionally subservient to her husband. Rebecca would not admit being trapped.(Guo 46-49)

Rebecca has lost her discourse right at the beginning of the novel. (Xu 48-52) The reason why we consider de Winter as a guiltless man from the beginning is that he is described as one. But when it comes to Rebecca, the comments on her are from her rival in love and her husband who hates her to death. Her talents are shown collocated with her evil. And her evil side is extremely expressed.


At the end of the book, the author tells the truth about Rebecca, who had only a few months to live after getting cancer. She forced de Winter to kill her. Rebecca had spent most of her life with vigour and vitality, but she ends in such a tragedy and ridiculous way. The readers cannot help but sigh that Rebecca is so unfortunate. Actually, it is the authors confusion and disappointment. She ends up Rebeccas life urgently because she cannot see the future of feminist struggle.