What is a motif throughout Rebecca, at least in chapter 1?

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter one of "Rebecca," a strong motif that comes through is that of wild, untamed nature that is overpowering and taking over the once domesticated and trimmed property of Manderly.  The author spends a great deal of time describing how the bushes, trees, flowers, and shrubs have all gone wild, growing into the paths, obscuring the road, and taking on giant, frightening proportions.  It all makes nature herself seem like a foreboding and powerful beast that, if not kept in check and tamed, will encroach and drown anyone in its path.  This wildness can serve as a symbol of the narrator's own fears and feelings of inadequacy in the face of powers that she can't control; from the moment she set foot at Manderly, she felt a force that was beyond her grasp.  It was powerful and strong, and threatened to overwhelm anyone who let it in, just like nature did.  That motif runs throughout almost all of the descriptions of the dream that the narrator has.

Other motifs, not as strong, are the dream-like quality of her vision; she floats, passes through walls, feels unreal, etc.  That eeriness of the feeling of being stuck in a dream comes through pretty strongly.  Also, the motif of the house, Manderly, being a living thing that is watching her with malevolence.  She feels it is not empty, but that someone or something is there, enlivening it, watching her.  All together, it is unsettling, as it is meant to be.  This is a mystery novel that is meant to make the reader question and feel a bit unsettled, and the motifs in the first chapter serve that purpose well.  I hope that helped; good luck!