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Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Bronte and ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne Du Maurier

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Wider Reading Coursework Introduction: The two books I am studying are 'Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Bronte and 'Rebecca' by Daphne Du Maurier. I will be comparing and contrasting the way Daphne Du Maurier and Charlotte Bronte both create a sense of tension and mystery in 'Rebecca' chapter 7, and 'Jane Eyre' chapter 20. They were written in different times, Jane Eyre in the 1840's of the 19th century and Rebecca in the 1930's of the 20th century. Both books draw many similarities and a story line focusing on one central character throughout, the young female heroine who is unsupported by family or wealth and hold no social position. They are in search of identity and encounter many difficulties as both their characters develop. In Jane Eyre, she becomes a much stronger person towards the end of the book, whereas in Rebecca, the bride seems to lose her identity completely and is continuously haunted by another. They both contain great romantic, but mystic genres, and Jane Eyre in particular an unusual gothic theme. Rebecca focuses on the story of a young shy female who has been taken in by a woman as her companion. She is used to the idea of not having any power or position important to those around her, a role that is submissive and humble. As the book progresses, the romantic theme of the novel arises with an arrival of a widowed man Maxim De Winter, the owner of Manderley. Their relationship begins to develop, and they are soon to be married. After the marriage the unnamed bride is taken to Manderley where Maxim had spent his days with Rebecca, his previous wife. The new bride is expected to fill the role of a strong minded and charming woman that Rebecca was, intelligent and popular. However she found this difficult especially with the reaction of those around her, in particular Mrs Danvers. ...read more.


seems patronising and makes the shy new bride feel insecure as she is expected to be more powerful and not afraid of Mrs Danvers. However when she is talking to Mrs De Winter she is being quite polite and respectful towards her, which contrasts the image that she feels towards Mrs Danvers. This is another aspect that makes their relationship strange as you feel that Mrs Danvers is putting on a facade, when she speaks to her. She is this 'shadow' that watches her, which is also the same word used to describe Rebecca later in the book. She was a character set aside from the rest, and adds a strong sense of mystery and tension later in the book aswell as making such a powerful impact from the moment she in introduced in this chapter. The atmosphere throughout this chapter is usually silent or still, and when she uses these words it emphasises the tension, as though you are building up to an expected climax that is loud and menacing. The room that she is led into when she reaches Manderley has an 'old and quiet smell' and she never describes the house or the rooms to be vibrant, fresh or beautiful. There was always an uncertainty about everything in Manderley. The rooms and the walls were 'dark' or 'heavy' and she compared the room to a 'silent church where services were seldom held', somewhere that is abandoned or uncared for, 'where rusty lichens grow' and 'ivy tendrils creep'. Already, Manderley is given this deep and mysterious image and atmosphere. Whereas visitors of this mansion conceive it to be beautiful and are amazed by the grandness of Manderley, this draws up a heavy contrast between the way she feels being at Manderley and how it looks to others. The residents of the household are quiet and mysterious, including her husband who did not give clear answers or thoughts and there is always an awkward communication between them, which seemed impersonal and unaffectionate. ...read more.


When she comes to help Mr Mason, she describes him to be a 'a pale, bloody spectacle' before her, and she is uncomfortable with the fact that she has to 'dip here hand again and again in the basin of blood and water'. Lots of references to blood, suggesting an attack or horrific accident has been made on Mr Mason and we are still unknown to what it is. This holds the mystery in the chapter creating the tension. Conclusion Both books use various techniques to provoke images and feelings of tension and mystery. Similar techniques that are used in both books are questions and repetition to emphasise the choice of words used which are usually 'dark' or 'still'. They both use a similar choice of words and describe the setting in an overpowering and dangerous way. However Jane Eyre has a gothic theme to it, which the blood, the dark, the strange noises that come from the attic, threatening presence of this creature, which all combine together to create this mystery. The tension in the books are evoked by the mystery, as it continues, more tension about what is going to happen arises. The pace of the chapters in each are not constant, in Rebecca it is the same from the beginning and reaches a climax at the end. In Jane Eyre it is very still and then suddenly the pace speeds up dramatically before slowing down again. There is a constant switching between what is going on, and then back to the description of the surrounding grounds and here feelings in contrast to the confusion. This effectively adds to the mystery, as we are not certain what is going on. I found that in Jane Eyre and Rebecca, they do successfully create both mystery and tension all throughout the book and I have found many ways in which they have done this. However I feel that Daphne Du Maurier created a better sense of this mystery and tension rather than in Jane Eyre which I thought seemed to be more of a drama or horror. ...read more.

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