Daphne du Maurier Mystery & Detective Fiction Analysis
Daphne du Maurier’s first two novels, The Loving Spirit and I’ll Never Be Young Again (1932), began to kindle an interest in romances during a period when realism was still in vogue. Her next novel, The Progress of Julius (1933), was much bolder: It introduced the theme of incest between father and daughter. This work was followed by du Maurier’s biography of her father, in which she attempts to sort out her complex feelings about him, to gain a perspective on him that would allow her the freedom to develop her independence.
In Jamaica Inn, du Maurier combines the elements of her earlier popular romances with those of the gothic novel to create her first mystery. This haunting tale, set on the Bodmin moor around the year 1835, is the story of an assertive, independent woman named Mary Yellan. The twenty-three-year-old heroine (who appears to embody du Maurier’s own fantasies of love and adventure) goes to live with her aunt and uncle, who manage Jamaica Inn, an isolated tavern whose dreadful secrets have driven Mary’s aunt mad. Mary’s uncle, Joss, it turns out, is a vicious smuggler. He and his consorts make secret trips to the coast, where they use lights to lure ships to crash on the rocks. These “wreckers,” as they are called, then murder the survivors and steal their goods, which they store at Jamaica Inn.
A noteworthy psychological dimension separates...
(The entire section is 1541 words.)
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