How Rebecca Reflects and Subverts the Conventions of the Romance Genre

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How Rebecca Reflects and Subverts the Conventions of the Romance Genre

“‘I’m invariably ill-tempered in the early morning. I repeat to you, the choice is open to you. Either you go to America with Mrs Van Hopper or you come home to Manderly with me.’ ‘Do you mean you want a secretary or something?’

‘No, I’m asking you to marry me, you little fool.’”
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier is a fine example of the romantic genre as it reflects certain conventions such as the hero and heroine’s characteristics. It also subverts many romantic conventions for example, the journey to happy ever after. Conventions of the gothic/horror genre are also found in the novel.

The conventions that Rebecca reflects of the romantic genre are those of the characteristics of the hero and heroine (as mentioned above). The heroine is usually innocent and vulnerable with low confidence and low self-esteem. The narrator of the novel also holds these characteristics. The first impression of the hero seems rude, arrogant and insufferable but the heroine soon realises she was wrong and sees the hero differently. This is also a convention of the Romantic genre. Rebecca also subverts certain aspects of the genre, such as the ‘happily ever after’ ending to most romantic novels. The gothic genre is also found in the novel, with the spirit of Rebecca haunting Maxim and the narrator’s marriage.

One major convention of the Romantic genre is the innocence, vulnerability and lack of confidence of the heroine. In Rebecca, the narrator constantly refers to herself as an un-educated, inexperienced and young schoolgirl; ‘…I was a youthful thing and unimportant…there was no need to include me in the conversation.’ Throughout the first six chapters, the narrator is depicted as very young with no experience. She admits this herself; ‘It was a situation for which I was ill-trained. I wished I was older, different.’ Mrs Van Hopper persistently degrades her, supposedly training her to be a companion. ‘I...
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