With the exception of the opening chapters in Monte Carlo, Rebecca takes place at the country estate of Manderley. The now famous first sentence, “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again,” prepares the reader for the importance of the manor house. Du Maurier adheres to the Gothic tradition by giving psychological importance to the house, which becomes almost a character in its own right. The mansion’s rooms provide clues to Rebecca’s character. There is a stigma attached to the sea, the site of Rebecca’s drowning. Maxim orders Mrs. Danvers to redecorate the east wing, which looks out on the rose garden, rather than taking up residence in the west wing with its view of the sea.
Manderley is important to the narrator before she even sees it. Her elderly companion, Mrs. Van Hopper, dwells on British aristocracy and places great value on Manderley as a stately home. In addition, when younger and vacationing nearby, the narrator herself had purchased a post card of the estate. She speculates, “Maybe there was something inviolate about Manderley that made it a place apart.” Her reflection on the uniqueness of the house prepares the reader for the events which are later revealed.