Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier is a work that I have always felt very connected to. I first encountered it my junior year of high school. In my British Literature class that year, I had a final paper assignment that allowed students to pick any literary text that we wanted to write about. My aunt recommended that I read Rebecca for this assignment because she thought it would be of interest to me. Through my first reading of Rebecca, I had an analytical framework through which I was looking at the text because I was reading it knowing that that paper assignment was coming up. I thought about it mostly in terms of identity and tracking how the text thought about the narrator and Rebecca. It was very similar to the way that I read texts for English classes now; I always like to take notes of patterns, images, etc. in case I find compelling evidence for later essay assignments. Partially, I wonder what it would be like to have read this book for the first time for simple enjoyment and not analysis. Though, I think ultimately I would have missed much of what makes this text so rich and thought-provoking if I wasn’t being intentional with my reading in the first place. This text was really one of the first books that I genuinely practiced close reading while reading, as much of high school English dealt with thematic analysis on a larger scale. I think that my relationship with the text will be largely the same as I still have the reverence for it that I always have, but after spending much of college practicing close reading and analyzing, I think I will be able to take larger strides in analysis of the reading I will do now.
I’m drawn to Rebecca because of the way that it weaves elements of multiple genres together, such as the mix of romantic, gothic, and detective tropes. I am also really drawn to the ways that the novel offers complex questions about identity, gender, power, and sexuality. These themes have always been the most interesting fields of analysis for me. Many of these theoretical frameworks offer insight into larger psychological arguments that I enjoy thinking about. I am always interested in the expression of “the self” in characters and how their expressions are influenced or shaped by their environments. The women in this text and the expression of their identities are so complex, and so I continue to be drawn to this text because I think that there is always more analysis that could, and should, be made.