Skepticism about male-female relationships under patriarchy is central to Hitchcock’s importance to us today. If he remains “The Master of Suspense,” the suspense—the films’ structuring tension—resides precisely within that skepticism. It was already present, of course, in the British films, and most thoroughly and explicitly formulated in his first sound film, Blackmail.
But it is in Rebecca that his unifying theme receives its first definitive statement: the masculinist drive to dominate, control, and (if necessary) punish women; the corresponding dread of powerful women, and especially of women who assert their sexual freedom, for what, above all, the male (in his position of dominant vulnerability, or vulnerable dominance) cannot tolerate is the sense that another male might be “better” than he was.
– Robin Wood i et esssay hos Criterion.