Gothic literature is an English genre of fiction that was popular in the eighteenth to early nineteenth centuries, characterized by an atmosphere of mystery and supernatural horror and having a pseudo-medieval setting. The very first example of gothic literature in history was attributed to Horace Walpole and his novel, The Castle of Otranto (1764). Other examples include Dracula (1897) by Bram Stoker, Jane Eyre (1847) by Charlotte Brontë, and Wuthering Heights (1847) by Emily Brontë. Seeing these classic examples of gothic novels, Daphne Du Maurier wrote Rebecca, a traditional romantic Gothic novel, in 1938, using her own personal life experiences and the customary elements of gothic literature to make her readers feel tense and anxious. She uses her marriage with Major Frederick Browning and his former love, Jan Ricardo, to create an outline and give color to Rebecca. Daphne Du Maurier also uses the setting, atmosphere, emotions and other elements of gothic literature to help contribute to the storyline of the novel. Daphne Du Maurier's History Daphne's suspicion within her own marriage with Major Frederick "Boy" Browning in 1932 fuelled the shocking and suspenseful plot of Rebecca. When Daphne signed the deal with her publisher Victor Gollanzc for her novel, she only knew that Rebecca would be its title and that jealousy would be its theme. Beyond these two things, Du Maurier had no idea what she would write about. Nevertheless, an idea came into Daphne's mind the year she married Tommy or Frederick "Boy" Browning. Tommy had previously been engaged with Jan Ricardo, an alluring and dark-haired lady. It was the suspicion that Frederick was still enticed by Jan that gave Daphne the idea for her novel.
Although it took Daphne several months to write Rebecca, she would eventually publish her novel, which incorporated everything that the public would want in a gothic romantic novel. She classified this intriguing novel as a "study in jealousy" (Dennison), whilst acknowledging that Rebecca had a few origins from her own life. Soon after Rebecca was published, it gained wide popularity and even though the novel had great demand, many of the readers had one question to ask: "Why does the narrator have no name?" (Dennison). Mrs. De Winters, the narrator, is nameless because she is identified as Daphne Du Maurier herself, who has a very unique and classy name that people usually misspell. Also, the idea for the novel's own Manderley came from Du Maurier's life. It was the Cornish mansion, Menabilly, that Daphne had fallen in love with and had become her home for half a century, in Alexandria. Similar to Rebecca and Maximilian, Daphne and Tommy were not devoted to one another and Tommy's previous love, Jan Ricardo, passed away when Jan committed suicide by throwing herself under an oncoming train during World War II. Elements of Gothic Literature
Daphne Du Maurier uses the traditional elements of gothic literature to enhance the feeling of tension in her fourth novel Rebecca. The first element we get is the setting, which in our case is Manderley. Manderley, complete with the woods, the beach and the sea is the perfect setting for a gothic novel because it seems seemingly abandoned and it also has a lot of closed doors. This setting creates a sense of foreboding and mystery which could symbolize the obscure parts of our human nature. Then we get the atmosphere of mystery and suspense. For example, the unknown corridors that Mrs. De Winters stumbles into when Maximilian's sister comes. We also get