Domesticicty, Identity and Mental Illness in Jane Eyre and Rebecca from a feminist perspective

University essay from Umeå universitet/Institutionen för språkstudier

Abstract: This qualitative essay explores and compares women’s roles and identities in the gothic novels Rebecca and Jane Eyre. The investigation shall be a social critique on feminine ideals from a feminist perspective. Comparable analysis of the "other women" who act as doubles for the protagonists will be essential to understanding the alter egos of Mrs. de Winter and Jane Eyre. These double personalities raise questions of identity and the roles of femininity. Similarly the power struggles between husband and wives and other feminine influences shall throw further light on prevailing feminine ideals of the times. I shall analyze Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca in relation to the concepts of the "Angel in the house" and the "Mad Woman in the Attic" with Charlotte Bronte’s novel to explore parallels between the plot and female characters. I shall show how Daphne du Maurier offers varying feminine models and ultimately takes a feminist standpoint with her novel much like Brontë’s Jane Eyre before her. Finally, I will show how the suppression of women by men through gender stereotyping can lead to female rebellion and, in turn, the stigmatization of female madness.

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