Obsession is a state of troubling preoccupation, and is a mental state prominent in both Frankenstein and Rebecca; one which has extreme causes and effects. In Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein becomes obsessed with creating life, which later turns to obsession with destroying his creation. While in Rebecca, the main antagonist Mrs De Winter is obsessed with the deceased Rebecca. This unhealthy obsession later consumes the second Mrs De Winter.
It is interesting that both Du Maurier and Shelley are female writers, which could influence the texts they write, as they lived and wrote before gender equality. Shelley deliberately presents women ironically, presenting them as exploited by men and valued for their beauty. Shelley’s mother was absent in her childhood; it is likely that Shelley grew up in a patriarchal world, shaping her views of men, and perhaps exposing their flaws. Shelley’s mother was Mary Wollstonecraft, a philosopher and advocator of women’s rights, and it is likely that Shelley was influenced by her mother’s feminist works, evident in the way she presents women’s mistreatment from men. Shelley herself said; “It is hardly surprising that women concentrate on the way the look instead of what is in their minds”, which reflects the obsession and women’s outer beauty in the book, such as the focus on Elizabeth’s appearance. Shelley wrote the book in 1816, at the end of the Romantic era; Romanticism was partly a “reaction against the scientific realisation of nature”, which is evident in the scientific nature of creating the creature, and Shelley’s references to God and Satan. The critic Alicia Renfroe argued that, Shelley uses nature “personified as female, as a vehicle to redefine the masculine prototype of Romanticism”.
Du Maurier’s novel is a gothic romance, shown through the mystery regarding the life of Rebecca, and the supernatural element of her deceased presence. Like Shelley, she was concerned with the role of women, and can be perceived as taking a feminist view point, as the protagonist herself is a morally good character, who is ill-treated by those around her, including her manipulative husband. Du Maurier grew up in a childhood, in which she adored her father, and critic John Preston commented; “For Daphne, no man ever lived up to Daddy”. This could be inspiration for how the second Mrs De Winter can never live up to the first, in the eyes of both herself and Mrs Danvers.
One prevalent theme within both Frankenstein and Rebecca is the idea that obsession and isolation are closely linked. In Frankenstein, Victor is a man obsessed with the creation of life, but a man incapable of accepting his mistakes. He immediately rejects his creature, due to its hideous physical appearance, despite being a “father” figure to his creation; “unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out the room” and the derogatory way in which he speaks of his creation; “I beheld the wretch – the miserable monster whom I had...