Rebecca

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Rebecca Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Max—or Maxim, as the narrator still calls him—and the narrator arrive at Manderley in early May. Manderley, which is in England, is rainy and wet. The narrator realizes that she’s been dreading her arrival to her husband’s home following their honeymoon. Maxim happily points out the landmarks on his property, but the narrator can only think of how the servants and guests at Manderley will treat her. Maxim warns the narrator that his principle servant, Mrs. Danvers, is a very severe woman, but also highly capable.
There’s significant emotional distance between the narrator and Maxim, even though they’re married now. Maxim is completely comfortable at Manderley, while the narrator, on the other hand, will need plenty of time to adjust to her new circumstances. Maxim seems almost totally oblivious to this fact.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
Maxim and the narrator drive to Manderley. When they’re only a short distance from the house itself, the narrator notices that all the servants are standing outside, ready to welcome her. She sees an old, kind-looking man—the butler—whom Maxim addresses as Frith. Frith greets Maxim and tells him that Mrs. Danvers was the one who ordered all the servants to assemble outside. Maxim isn’t surprised at all.
This assembly—an entire manor house-worth of servants gathering outside—seems both friendly and aggressive. Even if Mrs. Danvers—mentioned here for only the second time in the book—meant the servants to put the narrator at ease, it would seem that they’ve had the opposite effect. They’re like a formidable army, reminding the narrator that she’s outnumbered at Manderley.
Themes
Memory Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
As the narrator emerges from the car, she sees an older woman walking toward her. Maxim introduces her as Mrs. Danvers. The narrator finds that she can’t remember exactly what Danvers says to her at the time—it was a cold, lifeless speech welcoming her to Manderley.
The narrator’s outsider status at Manderley allows her to see through the servants’ polite manners: she can see that Mrs. Danvers’ speech is fake. It now seems likely that Danvers did intend the assembly of servants as a “show of force” more than a welcoming committee.
Themes
Memory Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
Inside Manderley, Maxim and the narrator greet Maxim’s prized cocker spaniels, Jasper and his old, blind mother. The narrator, comforted by the sight of the dogs, looks around the library. There is an old, lilac smell in the air, and the room is full of dust.
The introduction of Jasper is one of the only moments of warmth and comfort in the first part of the novel—everything feels foreign and sinister to the narrator except for the dog.
Themes
Memory Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
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The narrator thinks of everything that has happened to her lately. Several months have passed since her time in Monte Carlo—in that time, she’s been married to Maxim, and honeymooned through France and Italy. Maxim has been in joyous spirits lately, and proven himself to be more youthful and energetic than the narrator had thought.
The narrator confirms that a short amount of time has passed since the events of the previous chapter, and she and Maxim have finally been married. Their relationship as a whole has been very fast-paced—they’ve only known one another for 3 months—but it’s also this fact that allows Maxim to remain so mysterious to the narrator even as her husband.
Themes
Memory Theme Icon
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
The narrator looks around Manderley, her new home. Surveying her library, she can’t believe that she’s standing inside the building that she’d glimpsed on cards as a child. Suddenly, Frith opens the door and tells her that Mrs. Danvers has asked her to come to her new room. The narrator goes to join Mrs. Danvers. Maxim tells her to “make friends.”
The narrator feels small and child-like in her new home, and this impression is confirmed by her memories of looking at Manderley on cards. Furthermore, Maxim’s suggestion that the narrator “make friends” is belittling; it’s the kind of thing a father would say to a young daughter.
Themes
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
Frith leads the narrator to her new bedroom. The narrator finds herself feeling nervous—she says that the house is “very big,” then realizes she’s sounding childish. They arrive in the bedroom, where Frith leaves the narrator with Mrs. Danvers. Danvers is very quiet and severe-looking. The narrator smiles, and Danvers doesn’t smile in return. Mrs. Danvers tells the narrator she’s there to carry out her orders at all times. She explains that this bedroom is intended for the narrator, though previously no one used it at all.
The narrator’s mistake is that she’s trying to interact with Mrs. Danvers as she’d interact with a friend or a casual acquaintance. Mrs. Danvers lives in a world of rules and formalities, and seems to scorn the narrator’s weakness in failing to assert her superior social rank. Danvers becomes more and more of an antagonistic figure—but usually without saying or doing anything that seems outright antagonistic.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
The narrator asks Mrs. Danvers if she’s been at Manderley for long. Danvers explains that she’s been at Manderley ever since the first Mrs. de Winter was married. As Danvers speaks of Mrs. de Winter, the narrator notes that she seems exhilarated and excited for the first time. Danvers stares at the narrator with pity and scorn. Feeling uncomfortable, the narrator tells Danvers that she hopes they’ll become friends. She adds that her new, wealthy life is foreign to her, and Danvers’s expression grows even more scornful. Danvers tells the narrator that she’ll soon begin planning parties for the narrator, and adds that she’s decorated the house according to the first Mrs. de Winter’s wishes. Danvers tells the narrator that the first Mrs. de Winter’s bedroom is located on the other side of the house.
Everything that the narrator thinks she sees in Maxim, she sees clearly in Mrs. Danvers. Mrs. Danvers is still openly devoted to Rebecca, and she also obviously looks down on the narrator because of the narrator’s inferior social status. This is strange, since Mrs. Danvers herself is only as servant (albeit a very important one). It’s as if Danvers (like Van Hopper) despises the narrator for pretending to be someone she’s not: a noblewoman. Ironically, Danvers’s greater experience and knowledge of Manderley (and of Rebecca) makes her more powerful than the narrator. In the closed world of Manderley, Danvers “outranks” the narrator.
Themes
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
Suddenly, Maxim enters the narrator’s bedroom. Cheerfully, he praises the décor of the room, and notes that it was wasted in years past, when it was only a guest room. Mrs. Danvers leaves, bowing to Maxim. Maxim asks the narrator how she’s gotten along with Danvers, and she admits that Danvers seemed “a little bit stiff.” Maxim tells the narrator that she must try to get along with Danvers, since she’s an excellent servant. Maxim adds that Mrs. Danvers never bullies him, since he, of course, has the power to fire her.
The narrator is seemingly terrified of Mrs. Danvers, but she lies to Maxim and just says that she finds her “stiff.” The narrator is clearly still uncomfortable around Maxim, and wants to seem braver and less “stiff” herself than she actually is. Maxim’s statement again seems condescending and even menacing—as if he knows that Danvers will probably bully the narrator, but he doesn’t mind as long as he himself remains immune and powerful.
Themes
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
In the evening, Alice, a maid, dresses the narrator for dinner. The narrator wears an old dress that Mrs. Van Hopper gave her months ago. At dinner, the narrator laughs with Maxim, happy that the other servants don’t stare her down, as Mrs. Danvers did. Yet after dinner, as the narrator sits by the fire with Maxim, she becomes conscious that she’s sitting in Rebecca’s chair, drinking from the cups that Rebecca used to use, etc.
The narrator has been trying to forget about Maxim’s last wife, but now that she’s at Manderley she finds that this is nearly impossible. Manderley itself is a physical reminder of Rebecca’s presence: although Rebecca herself is dead, she lives on in the objects and details constantly surrounding the narrator in her new environment.
Themes
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon