Daphne du Maurier As a Gothic Writer

Subject: Literature
Type: Exploratory Essay
Pages: 7
Word count: 1883
Topics: Book, Fiction, Modernism

Gothic tradition in writing has been exemplified and portrayed by some of the renowned authors whose ascriptions this type and style of writing explain their influence, dominance and the large fanbase they have for the gothic literature enthusiasts. One of the defining elements or features of the gothic literature is their creepy atmosphere, the carefully selected landscape as well as setting from which the author outlines or dwells on the uncanny thereby giving the impression that the events are happening out of the confines of the ordinary world (Biesen 47). Daphne du Maurier is one such author who has employed the use of gothic motifs and symbols in her literary works to bring out that spectacular or unique effect. She is attributed to such novels like Mu Cousin Rachel, Rebecca and Jamaica Inn. Although the few novels appear to have been neatly inscribed with dark romances, yet deeper in, the books have invented the use of gothic imagery. The gothic style has much been attributed to her life because as a child, du Maurier had longed and wished that he was a boy. In her days, the boys had more chances and opportunities as compared to girls, going further with her wish to invent the male alter ego, Eric Avon, for herself. She grew up as a writer and got the chance or the opportunity to exploit her masculine nature, and this explains why she fancied gothic imagery.  Hence, this exploration tries to confirm how du Maurier uses settings, mystery, good and evil as well as supernatural to define herself as a gothic writer. 

The novel Rebecca confirms du Maurier as a gothic writer because this is one of the modern gothic literature that has been identified. One of the elements that make her work look gothic in this novel is the setting whereby the events are happening beyond the usual or the ordinary world (Biesen 48). As such, the Manderley is a setting that proves or provide the qualities that ascertain Rebecca’s work to be gothic literature. Particularly, the setting of the place is a kin to a natural paradise whereby the house is located in a complete woody area next to a sea and a beach.  In the beginning, Rebecca notes “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive, and for a while I could not enter, for the way was barred to me”(du Maurier 1).  The statement shows a setting of a secluded and barred place that raises the concerns about the uncanny of the Manderley house. However, the isolation of the place from the larger society as well as how it comes with servants resembles the elements of gothic literature. As one reads through the novel, it comes out clearly that Manderley is more that a house and some house. The place is a representation of mystery and some life that is not possible to find in the ordinary life but still attracts tourists and more so, the locals. On the other hand, the way Maxim de Winter and the wife, Mrs De Winter (second wife) takes on this house or their perception of it shows how they perceive it as a dream come true and as such, obsessed with it (Hughes 291). In this sense, the use of such a setting that seems out of the ordinary or the usual world qualifies du Maurier’s work as gothic as she uses an environment and context that does not exist in the rational world  (Sweeney 1). Hence, least to say, the manner in which Rebbecca selects her settings and contexts of writing stories to employ silent and out-of-the-logical world places makes her works gothic.

Get your paper done on time by an expert in your field.
plagiarism free

Manderley as a setting for the story also highlights the gothic aspect or element of Rebecca’s writing style. In particularly, the place is not habitable, has been considered or regarded as out of reach forever and as such, left for memories and dreams. In this sense, the gothic setting or imagery is again exemplified by the author in her writing style, and from the beginning of the story, there is the evidence of the narrator not coming back (Dicken 209). In fact, there is the possibility that the Manderley place can burn completely.  There is also the connection that the author uses with the gory settings like Manderley that adds to the gothic nature or aspect of her writing. The excerpt “No waves would come to ruffle this dream water, and no bulk of cloud, wind-driven from the west, obscure the clarity of this pale sky” (du Maurier 2) exposes the reader to a pale setting of a house that seems to suggest an unusual place. In the novel, there is a close connection between Rebecca and the Manderley house, when here memories remain, and the presence of her, (dead woman Rebecca) makes the entire setting very creepy. In this sense, the author opens the narration about or around the ghost of Rebecca, and the imagery is used in the manner in which she explains that the people or characters are faced by the objects that Rebecca had used and as such, creating a magical atmosphere thus making her writing a gothic literature.

Other analyses have regarded her work, Rebecca to be an accurate account of gothic fiction. Particularly, the book has an atmosphere of terror and mystery with the evident hint of violence as well as the supernatural influence within the setting. On the same note, others have suggested that the Manderley provides the gothic elements of the book, especially with the setting akin to a hallowed mansion, focusing on such elements or themes as murder, a sinister servant, and terrible fire (Dodge Robbins 73).  In providing an analysis of the book, others have argued that that the book ends or is defined by Rebecca’s unquiet ghost  (Latham 17). Nonetheless, the setting of the book that provides a gothic feeling is the weather that reflects the sombre mood of the characters, with the fog descending where the heroine is standing, confused and profoundly depressed. The elements of weather like the terrible storm add to the gothic nature or aspect of the book, especially in portraying the gothic element of murder. In this setting, the night of the terrible storm is when Maxim had killed Rebecca. Besides, while analysing the book, others have contended that the elements including imagery and symbolism within the novel all show or resemble gothic approach to telling a story especially the romance happening between a younger woman and an older man, the fire consuming the mansion, the enshrouded presence shown of the first wife (Dicken 209).  

Perhaps what makes du Maurier a gothic writer is how she portrays the theme of terror, murder and death (Biesen 51). Of particular emphasis is that in the novel Rebecca, the characters she uses are all dead, some look dead or in the verge of doing so or dangerously looking dead. For instance, the main character, Rebecca is seen as dead before the beginning of the story. In this sense, du Maurier portrays sinister themes like misery and death to point across her prowess in using proper stylistic devices of gothic writing style. Death is also portrayed in her writings through murder. In the novel Rebecca for instance, Maxim had killed his wife while the author also refers to death through natural cause like Rebecca being terminally ill due to cancer. Nonetheless, the manner in which Rebecca paints her characters as perceiving death also confirms her style as gothic (Latham 19). Most of the characters like the mystery of death and most would prefer murder to natural death. For example, Maxim says “’I believe…’that Rebecca lied to me on purpose” and goes on to say “She wanted me to kill her”(du Maurier 304). The state confirms the obsession that the characters had with death thereby portraying the gothic aspect of du Maurier’s writing style. In this sense, the author has outlined or confirmed herself as using gory events whereby the characters she uses are prone to sinister and mystery as part of gothic literature. On the other hand, the death aspect is portrayed in the manner in which the characters have put their minds focused on the ghosts of Rebecca as haunting the place. Therefore, Rebecca uses elements like death, ghosts and haunting to confirm her style predominantly gothic in nature. 

The concept of good and evil informs or shapes the gothic characteristic of the novel and as such, portrays gothic approach or element as one of the core styles used by Rebecca. The heroine, Mrs De Winter depicts the good, she stays adamant for the husband. She argues that Rebecca would never again stand behind her in stairs, or sit behing her in the dining (du Maurier 290). SHe stands as a good person changes the entire story because it has destroyed all the challenges and the possibilities of Rebecca carrying her into death. However, evil is also present in the book, with Rebecca whose influence and obsession with evil are taken to her death while on the other hand, Maxim explains why he hated because Rebecca was not capable of living or showing tenderness or decency (du Maurier 275). In this sense, the statement or the scene confirms how Maurier uses a gothic style of good versus evil in her writing and as such, confirms her work as entirely being of gothic approach or style.

Finally, mystery overshadows the book and as such,  one of the elements through which Maurier has used in portraying her work as gothic. For instance, it is a mystery that Rebecca is still capable of holding on to her evil doings or deeds even in death and as such, she has a sharp memory for the same (Dodge Robbins 71). In fact, the story has been written on Mrs Rebecca De Winter having a mystery unknown to many; this explains why the characters have embarked on the mission of uncovering the secret but this only appears after her new found body. In this sense, Maurier successful uses the element of mystery as a style in her writing to confirm her work as that of gothic style or approach. 

In summary, the exploration has defined and outlined Daphne du Maurier as a gothic writer owing to the type of the setting, mystery, good versus evil as well as the concept of supernatural in her writings. Of particular emphasis has been the novel, Rebecca whose setting in the Manderley shows a secluded and weird place. The house is haunted by Rebecca’s ghosts as one of the elements of gothic literature whereby supernatural elements are apparent. In addition, she uses elements like murder, creepy images, terror to confimer her ascription to the gothic elements or style in writing. In addition, the concepts or elements of good and evil confirm her work as gothic, given that Mrs. Danvers portrays a good side of humanity while Rebecca is the evil haunting the place. The characters are also obssed with death and have a belief that Rebecca has haunted the place. In this sense, other analyzes have confirmed du Maurier as a gothic writer from her choice of unsual setting, obssession with themes of evil, death, murder and terror. 

Essay writing service:
  • Excellent quality
  • 100% Turnitin-safe
  • Affordable prices

Did you like this sample?
  1. Biesen, Sheri Chinen. “Haunting Landscapes in “Female Gothic” Thriller Films: From Alfred Hitchcock to Orson Welles.” Gothic Landscapes. Springer International Publishing, 2016. 47-69. 
  2. Dickens, C. “Du Maurier, Daphne.” The Encyclopedia of the Gothic 12 (2015): 209.
  3. Dodge Robbins, Dorothy. “R is for Rebecca: A Consonant and Consummate Haunting.” Names 64.2 (2016): 69-77.
  4. du Maurier, Daphne. Rebecca. First published in Great Britain, 1938. Print. http://www.e4thai.com/e4e/images/pdf/100BBCbooks/Rebecca.pdf 
  5. Hughes, Williams. The Encyclopedia of the Gothic. John Wiley & Sons, 2015. 
  6. Latham, Brandon. “Cobblestones and Doppelgängers: How Gothic Literature Contributed to the Dawn of Film Noir.” Film Matters 7.2 (2016): 17-21.
  7. Sweeney, Susan. “Gothic Traces in the Metaphysical Detective Story: The Female Sleuth in Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 and Gibson’s Pattern Recognition.” Orbit: A Journal of American Literature 4.2 (2016).
Related topics
More samples
Related Essays