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by Daphne du Maurier

Analysis: Writing Style

Detailed and Descriptive, Poetic

It's All in the Details

Boy, does Mrs. de Winter have a good memory. The story of her courtship and first few months of marriage to Mr. de Winter is so exciting, so compelling, that she can't help obsessing over it, and remembering it in minute detail. Included in all of the flashbacks are vivid and lengthy descriptions of her natural surroundings (which are admittedly intense as noted in "Setting"), and of the various fantasies (mostly of the unpleasant kind) she has during those times.

This detail is intertwined with the tone of Rebecca as well. The nostalgia felt throughout the book is only made more obvious by the very descriptive nature of Mrs. de Winter's memories. Basically, she wants it all back. Maybe she feels closer to her past when she describes it in such detail?

Poetic Prose

Get this: Rebecca is famous for its metrical first and last lines. Let's take a look.

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderely again. (1.1)

Read it out loud. Sound a little rhythmic to you? That's because it is. This line is in iambic hexameter, which basically means it goes da-dum, da-dum, da-dum, da-dum, da-dum, da-dum. Not bad, Daphne.

And how about that last line?

And the ashes blew towards us with the salt wind from the sea. (27.123)

When you read this one out loud, what does it sound like? Dr. Seuss? Yep! It's pretty much an anapestic tetrameter, give or take a syllable That means it almost goes da-da-dum, da-da-dum, da-da-dum, da-da-dum. It's not quite on, but it's close.

So what's the effect of starting the novel with the more serious iambic hexameter and finishing with the more often comic anapestic tetrameter? Do you think this was intentional?

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