The Use of Nature as a Motif
Rebecca stands as a perfect example of modern gothic literature. Gothic fiction can be characterized by vivid settings, an atmosphere of mystery, terror, violence and the supernatural. The book encompasses a murder, a terrible fire, and features a sinister servant; finally, the entire story is pervaded by the unrestful ghost of Rebecca herself. The novel also exemplifies the typical gothic novel by the use of weather and nature as a motif. Nature seems to skillfully mirror the characters' moods. For example, a fog descends when the heroine is confused and depressed; Maxim kills Rebecca on the night of a terrible storm. Indeed, many of the novel's motifs--the mansion consumed by fire, the physical setting, and the weather make Rebecca a 19th-century gothic masterpiece. The utilization of weather in Rebecca is exhaustingly prevalent throughout the novel. The weather generally matches the characters’ moods. It is foggy when the second Mrs. de Winter is downhearted, and it storms at the climax. The shy companion falls in love with Maxim in the sunny South of France, but returns with him to chilly England. Weather and climate are not used in any stunning new fashion, in fact, du Maurier employs the conventions of a classical gothic novel, but they are used with discretion and reasonable subtlety. The flowers at Manderley are another impeccable example of how nature stands as a common motif in the novel. The blood-red rhododendrons and the white azaleas are both cultivated by Rebecca. Both dominate Manderley, at least from Mrs. de Winter's point of view. The rhododendrons are all over the property, and various things owned by Rebecca still hold the scent of azaleas. (We learn that even Rebecca herself always smelled like azaleas).The menacing red rhododendrons makes the reader think of Rebecca's spilled blood and even foreshadow the red flames of Manderley burning at the end of the novel.The white azalea petals on the ground of the...
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