What are the Marxist, Feminist and Freudian approaches to Rebecca?

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accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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You might like to focus on the theme of sexuality in the novel, and how at one stage the narrator begs Maxim, her husband, to accept her and to forget about the past by promising to be "his little boy." There is a sense in which the lush sexuality of Rebecca finds its opposite in the almost asexual nature of the narrator, who wears comfortable but not flattering clothes and is a pale imitation of her predecessor. I am sure Freudians would go to town on such descriptions!

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theinkbrain | eNotes Newbie

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with some minor variations, rebecca is essentially a re-write of jane eyre.

genteel but poor  naive young girl/ orphan with fine sensibilities falls in love with/marries upper class self confident, wealthy autocratic older man with evil/mad, former wife who has a sinister 'keeper/servant' .

in my view the first wife/keeper relationship is the story that haunts the text throughout.  what makes grace poole a drunk and danvers a whack job? i think it is because they are alter egos of alter egos - reverberations of echoes. 

their relationship does not become 'real' until the  manor is destroyed by fire and the older man has sustained a serious injury that changed him for life.

then they reverse roles and  the young girl becomes the strong caretaker.

also the former (and exotic) wife is 'hidden' -

the young girl does not understand the nature of the 'secret'.

and it turns out that the first wife brings about her own(and 'well-deserved') violent death. 

both first wives have male allies who intrude in an attempt to blackmail/destroy the happiness of the couple. 

both first wives (in my view) reflect hidden/unacceptable/non conforming/antisocial/un-submissive/destructive/unacknowledged  parts of the female psyche that the young girl does not yet possess.

but we know that she will not live the rest of her life as a diffident wimp.

jenny9891's profile pic

jenny9891 | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

}JUst though I'd add this for anyone interested: The Oedipus complex is a psychological theory developed by Freud that suggests that boys have a strong desire to kill their father and marry their mother. When the genders are reversed its named the Electra complex. }Named after a character in Greek drama who connived in the murder of her mother. This plays out in Rebecca, as the heroine finds that she needs to overcome a maternal figure in order to marry the paternal figure, the older man Maxim. }The story provides two such maternal figures Mrs. Van Hopper and Rebecca. Mrs. Van Hopper exerts a rather weak force, and victory over her is easily won, Maxim defeats her on the heroine's behalf, by volunteering to reveal their engagement. }After the couple arrive at Manderley, the heroine encounters Rebecca, the more powerful, maternal figure who was once Maxim’s wife. The fact that Rebecca is dead, only enhances her strength as she cannot compete with a dead woman. She cannot kill a woman who exists in her husband's memory. Resolution comes when Maxim reveals that she was wicked, and that he never loved her. From the heroine's perspective, this eliminates the figure of Rebecca as a threat to her happiness, effectively "killing" her.

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