Domestic Ideology and Sexual Transgressions in Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca

  • 蔡 采齡

Student thesis: Master's Thesis

Abstract

Regarding the social context of the novel as the domain where ethos class and sexuality interrelate and conflict with one another this thesis aims to define the positioning of each character in the community under the influences of the above three factors in Daphne du Maurier’s gothic romance Rebecca (1938) Most characters express profound nostalgia toward the past of the English civilization However with the feudal domestic customs and arrangements going obsolete in the modern society the boundaries between classes are gradually blurred And this further triggers sexual transgressions among the characters to emancipate their pent-up doubles Chapter One analyzes the Manderley community as a relic of the conventional Victorian values in the modern English society as it still promotes the ideology of domesticity to shape the conducts of the individual characters The domestic ideology imposes the stereotypes of masculinity and femininity to regulate individual manners and consolidate the patriarchal structure Chapter Two examines how the aristocratic class confronts the decline of its power and influences under the invasion of American capitalist consumerism They recognize that the established domestic ideology is no longer capable of guaranteeing men’s dominant position The female protagonists can appropriate the hegemonic position of the patriarchal structure to exert matriarchal power by means of their rise of the class hierarchy through their heterosexual marriages or through their trans-class identification with the upper class beyond the conjugal relationships The scenarios of excessive sexual transgressions and uxoricidal sanction in the story plot betray the pretension of domesticity and the moral hypocrisy of the upper class This chapter starts from Sigmund Freud’s theory of Oedipal complex and inspects how characters constrained by their distinctive gender roles still display the propensity of sexual sadomasochism as well as the inclination to homosexual desire under the oppressions of the domestic ideology and class prejudice Through sexual deviations they challenge heteronormativity and overturn the power relations in heterosexual marriages With the complicated multilateral relationships every character performs trans-class sexual aberrations and acquires personal identification with a suitable gender position and form of sexuality eventually In the story the narrator’s lifetime experiences are likened to the vicissitudes of the modern British community The seemingly ideal trans-class marriage and the domestic life of material abundance are like a mirage reflecting the imminent breakdown of the domestic ideology and fall of the privileged class behind the fa?ade of prosperity However the transgressive sexualities facilitate individual and communal reconstruction after the disillusionment This thesis claims that Daphne du Maurier parades the sexual aberrance of the characters as an attack against the outmoded domestic ideology and the corrupt upper class Yet she problematizes the decadent sexual transgressions as good counteractions against the degenerate society
Date of Award2017 Sep 12
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorMin-tser Lin (Supervisor)

Cite this

Domestic Ideology and Sexual Transgressions in Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca
采齡, 蔡. (Author). 2017 Sep 12

Student thesis: Master's Thesis