Comment and Analyse How Chapter One of Rebecca Foreshadows the Past Events of the Novel.

Daphne Du Maurier’s, ‘Rebecca’ was published in 1938 in an era of modernist experimentation in literature. The novel possesses a remarkable degree of psychological sophistication, while still delivering a brand of suspense. The narrator of the story, a naïve young woman, marries Maxim De Winter and they return to his country home, Manderley, in Cornwall, which plays a significant underlying role in the action of the narrative. The opening chapter foreshadows how Rebecca’s death is still a strong presence, which is an underlying theme throughtout the whole novel.  

The novel opens with “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”. This instantly establishes significant questions about the plot of the novel and makes readers question the importance of Manderley. The opening line is written in iambic hexameter, thus conveying a poetic element to the novel. The starkness of the word ‘dreamt’ causes the reader to visualise the narrator having an outer body experience, this foreshadows one of the underlying, yet prominent theme in the novel, that of the supernatural and gothic elements. This creates a sinister and eerie tone and atmosphere to the start of the novel, and also draws in the feeling of nostalgia, as the word ‘again’ suggests that the narrator repeats this action and has an attachment to a place named ‘Manderley’, which we find out later in the novel is an extended metaphor of attachment.

The chapter draws on elements of metal, which foreshadows the past events of the novel as the use of metal objects emphasises the strength of Rebecca’s hold on Manderley, as we learn that Rebecca holds onto Manderley. It is as if she isn’t letting the narrator come in because Manderley is hers and always will be. This idea of Rebecca’s control and possession of the Manderley is further illustrated through the use of “padlock” and “chain”, which emphasises how the gate leading to Manderley is locked, but more saliently and metaphorically emphasising Rebecca’s power...