Rebecca

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Perhaps the most ambiguous character in the novel, Mrs. Danvers is the elderly caretaker and chief servant at Manderley. Danvers remains utterly devoted to Rebecca—it’s never clear if this is because she doesn’t understand that Rebecca is really a wicked woman, or because she knows and approves of Rebecca’s wickedness (or Rebecca wasn’t wicked at all, and it’s only Maxim who says so). In either case, Danvers uses her influential position at Manderley to intimidate and manipulate the narrator, who, in spite of her superior rank, is terrified of Mrs. Danvers. Danvers is at her most diabolical during the summer costume party, during which she humiliates the narrator by convincing her to wear the same white dress that Rebecca wore years before. And yet Danvers is a sympathetic and even pathetic character, in addition to being a frightening one. She’s utterly devoted to a woman who’s dead, and who may never have cared about her in the first place.

Mrs. Danvers Quotes in Rebecca

The Rebecca quotes below are all either spoken by Mrs. Danvers or refer to Mrs. Danvers . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Memory Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Harper edition of Rebecca published in 2006.
Chapter 2 Quotes

But I never dared ask Mrs. Danvers what she did about it. She would have looked at me in scorn, smiling that freezing, superior smile of hers, and I can imagine her saying: “There were never any complaints when Mrs. de Winter was alive.”

Mrs. Danvers. I wonder what she is doing now.

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Rebecca de Winter , Mrs. Danvers
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:

Here the narrator recalls her former housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, for the first time. Right away she describes Mrs. Danvers as a severe, intimidating woman. Furthermore, Mrs. Danvers like to compare the narrator with her predecessor--Rebecca de Winter (the narrator's husband's former wife). Danver's constant, silent judgment of the narrator makes the narrator feel anxious and uncertain: everything the narrator does is being "weighed" against Rebecca's memory.

And yet the narrator doesn't seem the least bit anxious about Mrs. Danvers, in the present. On the contrary, she seems calm and collected, wondering offhandedly what ever happened to her former tormenter. The fact that Mrs. Danvers--a veritable institution at Manderley--is gone suggests that something has happened to Manderley itself. The narrator's former life as a resident of Manderley, alongside her husband, is over--but it'll take 300 pages before we understand what has happened to it.

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Chapter 8 Quotes

“Who is it?” I said, “who do you want?”
There was a strange buzzing at the end of the line, and then a voice came, low and rather harsh, whether that of a woman or a man I could not tell, and “Mrs. de Winter?” it said, “Mrs. de Winter?”
“I'm afraid you have made a mistake,” I said; “Mrs. de Winter has been dead for over a year.” I sat there, waiting, staring stupidly into the mouthpiece, and it was not until the name was repeated again, the voice incredulous, slightly raised, that I became aware, with a rush of color to my face, that I had blundered irretrievably, and could not take back my words.
“It's Mrs. Danvers, Madam,” said the voice. “I'm speaking to you on the house telephone.”

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Mrs. Danvers (speaker), Rebecca de Winter
Related Symbols: Manderley
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:

In this darkly amusing scene, the narrator answers the telephone in her new home, Manderley. Unfamiliar with the voice on the other end of the line, the narrator explains that "Mrs. de Winter"--i.e., Rebecca de Winter--is dead, only to realize that Mrs. Danvers is trying to get in touch with the narrator herself.

The narrator is so uncomfortable with her new role as the mistress of Manderley that she doesn't even answer to her own title. The narrator has become Mrs. de Winter, but she continues to think of Rebecca as the true owner of this elite title. The narrator's nervousness reflects her lack of familiarity with the lifestyle of the English aristocracy. A middle-class girl, she hasn't a clue how to go about running Manderley--the contrast between Rebecca's legendary competence and the narrator's incompetence is crystal-clear, and a crucial aspect of the power dynamic between Mrs. Danvers (who also clearly thinks of Rebecca as the real Mrs. de Winter) and the narrator.

Chapter 18 Quotes

“I thought I hated you but I don't now,” she said; “it seems to have spent itself, all the feeling I had.”
“Why should you hate me?” I asked; “what have I ever done to you that you should hate me?”
“You tried to take Mrs. de Winter's place,” she said.

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Mrs. Danvers (speaker), Rebecca de Winter
Page Number: 245
Explanation and Analysis:

The narrator comes face-to-face with Mrs. Danvers, the woman who has conspired to humiliate her in front of hundreds of guests (besides belittling her more privately many other times). The narrator, humiliated to the point where she has nothing to lose, asks Mrs. Danvers why she hates her so much. Danvers replies that she hated the narrator for usurping Rebecca's place as Maxim's wife.

In a way, Mrs. Danvers's explanation doesn't tell us anything we didn't already know: it was clear that Mrs. Danvers resented the narrator right away, and that her resentment stemmed from her immense loyalty to Rebecca. Yet Mrs. Danvers comes across as strangely pathetic in this scene. She's so loyal to a dead woman that she's practically a slave--she has no life independent of her relationship to Rebecca de Winter, who is gone. Prior to now, Mrs. Danvers had always seemed like a calm, rational adult, while the narrator had seemed clueless and childish. Now, the roles are reversed: Mrs. Danver is the child and the narrator is the mature presence.

Chapter 21 Quotes

“I will give the orders about the lunch,” she said. She waited a moment. I did not say anything. Then she went out of the room. She can't frighten me any more, I thought. She has lost her power with Rebecca.

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Mrs. Danvers (speaker), Rebecca de Winter
Page Number: 296
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage the narrator savors her victory over Mrs. Danvers. Previously, the narrator had been terrified of Danvers. Danvers was the living, breathing symbol of Rebecca's power over Manderley--her continued presence in the house implied the continued presence of Rebecca herself. But now that the narrator knows the truth about Rebecca (i.e, she was a wicked woman who hated the servants and never loved Maxim), Mrs. Danvers seems like a sad, pathetic woman--fiercely loyal to a woman who never particularly liked Danvers in return.

The passage signals that the narrator has again grown towards maturity. Obsessed with Rebecca's strong maternal presence, the narrator had no way to mature into her own woman--everything she did was measured against Rebecca's legacy. Now, the narrator has finally escaped Rebecca's influence, staking out her own place at Manderley in the process.

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Mrs. Danvers Character Timeline in Rebecca

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs. Danvers appears in Rebecca. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Memory Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
The narrator remembers some of the people who lived at Manderley. There was the servant, Mrs. Danvers , who, if the narrator complained about anything, would say that the narrator’s predecessor, Rebecca... (full context)
Chapter 7
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Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
...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. (full context)
Memory Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
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Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
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...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.... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
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The narrator asks Mrs. Danvers if she’s been at Manderley for long. Danvers explains that she’s been at Manderley ever... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...dead for more than a year. Then, the narrator realizes that the voice belongs to Mrs. Danvers —she’s speaking to Mrs. Danvers on a houseline. Danvers explains that she wants to know... (full context)
Chapter 9
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...an unfamiliar wing of the house and tries to open a door. Suddenly, she sees Mrs. Danvers , who seems vaguely angry. The narrator explains that she was trying to find her... (full context)
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Mrs. Danvers leads the narrator back to her room, and tells her that Major Giles and Beatrice... (full context)
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...compliment or an insult. But she thinks that she likes Beatrice—she’s calm and open, unlike Mrs. Danvers . (full context)
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...take a walk around Manderley. Beatrice asks the narrator how she’s been getting along with Mrs. Danvers . The narrator admits that she’s a little frightened of her servant, and Beatrice nods—Danvers... (full context)
Chapter 12
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The narrator sees very little of Mrs. Danvers in the coming days, and she senses that Danvers is making herself scarce. The narrator... (full context)
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
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...that she broke the cupid. She’s very embarrassed, but Maxim insists that she go tell Mrs. Danvers what became of the ornament. The narrator refuses, and Maxim points out that she seems... (full context)
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Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
A short while later, Maxim and Mrs. Danvers come back to where the narrator is sitting. Mrs. Danvers, who is blank-faced as ever,... (full context)
Chapter 13
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
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...the narrator staring back, a hand shuts the window immediately. The narrator recognizes this as Mrs. Danvers ’s hand (the black sleeve is a dead giveaway). (full context)
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Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
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...placed on a table, and someone has been sitting in her usual divan. She hears Mrs. Danvers ’s voice saying, “If she has gone to the library you will be able to... (full context)
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Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
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Mrs. Danvers enters the room, and the narrator senses that Danvers despises her. The man asks Danvers... (full context)
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...narrator can tell. It’s possible that Favell is some kind of thief or con-man, and Mrs. Danvers is his accomplice. As the narrator considers these possibilities, her heart begins to beat in... (full context)
Chapter 14
Memory Theme Icon
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Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
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...There are dressing gowns in the wardrobe, which emit a stale, sickly sweet smell. Suddenly, Mrs. Danvers walks in. The narrator notices that she’s smiling in a cloying, fake way. Danvers tells... (full context)
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Mrs. Danvers , still smiling, shows the narrator more of Rebecca’s clothes, reminiscing about serving her in... (full context)
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Mrs. Danvers continues talking about Rebecca as the narrator grows more and more uncomfortable. She explains that... (full context)
Chapter 15
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...thanks Beatrice and says goodbye. As she walks into Manderley, she hears Maxim arguing with Mrs. Danvers , saying, “his car was seen here yesterday afternoon.” When the narrator finds Maxim, he’s... (full context)
Chapter 16
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...and wonders if he ever comes into Rebecca’s old bedroom and touches her clothes, as Mrs. Danvers does. (full context)
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The next day, Mrs. Danvers approaches the narrator about the sketches she’s thrown away—she claims to want to make sure... (full context)
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After Mrs. Danvers leaves, the narrator wonders why Maxim doesn’t like Rebecca’s cousin, Jack Favell. She suspects that... (full context)
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As the ball approaches, the narrator decides to go with Mrs. Danvers ’ suggestion for a costume, and copies the portrait of the woman in white. She... (full context)
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...helps her with it, the narrator thinks excitedly about the evening ahead of her. Perhaps Mrs. Danvers was right, she admits to herself—it would have been better to make the ball a... (full context)
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...the narrator to change immediately. As the narrator walks back to her room, she passes Mrs. Danvers , who looks triumphant. (full context)
Chapter 18
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...again—that he’s left her forever. She walks across the grounds of Manderley, thinking angrily of Mrs. Danvers . It was Danvers who planned her humiliation, and it’s possible that Danvers was listening... (full context)
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Furious, the narrator goes to confront Mrs. Danvers about last night’s fiasco. She finds Danvers in the west wing of the house, and... (full context)
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The narrator stares into Mrs. Danvers ’s old, wizened face. Danvers explains that ever since the narrator has come to Manderley,... (full context)
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The narrator isn’t sure what to do with Mrs. Danvers . She tells her to go to her room, but Mrs. Danvers shouts that the... (full context)
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Mrs. Danvers opens a nearby window, from which the narrator can see the fog and the ocean... (full context)
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Suddenly, there’s a loud “boom.” Mrs. Danvers explains that a ship on the water is firing off a rocket. The narrator hears... (full context)
Chapter 19
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Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
The narrator stands by the window with Mrs. Danvers , looking down at Maxim, who’s rushing from the direction of the water. Maxim yells... (full context)
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Mrs. Danvers steps away from the window, and tells the narrator that she should go downstairs to... (full context)
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...sailors in the grounded ship. She tries not to think about her frightening encounter with Mrs. Danvers —none of it matters as long as Maxim is all right. (full context)
Chapter 20
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...for infidelity, since everyone in her life thinks she’s the perfect wife. She could convince Mrs. Danvers , her most loyal follower, to swear anything Rebecca asked her to swear. Rebecca goes... (full context)
Chapter 21
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
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...with Colonel Julyan and Captain Searle. The narrator orders Robert to send a message to Mrs. Danvers about the menu for the week. Mrs. Danvers comes to meet with the narrator, complaining... (full context)
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Mrs. Danvers stares silently at the narrator, then asks why the reporter wanted to speak to her—the... (full context)
Chapter 22
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...is unlikely. Frith adds that the news of Rebecca’s boat has been very shocking to Mrs. Danvers —she’s been ill lately. (full context)
Chapter 24
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...left. He rings a bell, and Frith enters the room. Favell tells Frith to ask Mrs. Danvers to come downstairs at once. In a few moments, Mrs. Danvers is downstairs, face to... (full context)
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Favell asks Mrs. Danvers to tell Colonel Julyan the truth about Rebecca: she’d been “living” with Favell for years... (full context)
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Colonel Julyan asks Mrs. Danvers if she can think of any reason why Rebecca would kill herself. Danvers pauses for... (full context)
Chapter 25
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The narrator stands in her home, looking at Colonel Julyan, Frank, Favell, Mrs. Danvers , and Maxim. She sees a look of utter despair on Maxim’s face—now he knows... (full context)
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As Julyan, Maxim, and Favell argue, the narrator notices that Mrs. Danvers is looking at Maxim with utter hatred. The narrator realizes that Danvers didn’t realize until... (full context)
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...in the meantime to make sure he doesn’t flee the country. Julyan hesitates, then tells Mrs. Danvers that she’s to lock all the doors in Manderley that night, after Maxim goes to... (full context)
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Favell, Colonel Julyan, and Mrs. Danvers leave the room, leaving Maxim with Frank and the narrator. Frank goes to make sure... (full context)
Chapter 26
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...Baker goes to consult his old appointment book, and finds that he saw a “ Mrs. Danvers ” at this time—a young, attractive woman. Baker—recognizing that he needs to reveal this patient’s... (full context)
Chapter 27
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At the restaurant, Maxim places a call to Frank. Frank reports that Mrs. Danvers has disappeared from Manderley: no one can find her. The narrator shrugs and says, “So... (full context)
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...long drive back to Manderley, the narrator dreams about returning to her home and seeing Mrs. Danvers there. She suggests to Maxim that they travel to Switzerland, as Colonel Julyan suggested. (full context)