How does the setting of Manderley contribute to the novel's plot and tone?

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kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Manderley is as brooding and sinister in the narrative as its former mistress, Rebecca. The novel opens with the narrator dreaming of the imposing family home which has been part of the De Winter family for generations-

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me that as 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. There was a padlock and chain upon the gate.

As the story unfolds, we see that Manderley was barred to the narrator until its past-and that of Rebecca- is revealed. However, as Mr DeWinter is forced to confront the truth that the smooth running of Manderley by Rebecca was not worth the sacrifice of his dignity and happiness, the house is destroyed by the maniacal Mrs Danvers.

Manderley represents the old Victorian values of social status being more important than personal qualities. The 'new' De Winters leave Manderley for a new life unfettered by tradition, ritual and a world where image is more important than reality.

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