Rebecca

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Mrs. Van Hopper Character Analysis

The obnoxious woman who hires the narrator to work as her companion in Monte Carlo. Mrs. Van Hopper doesn’t appear in Rebecca for very long, but if she hadn’t introduced herself to Maxim de Winter, the narrator would never have met him. Furthermore, Van Hopper is the first character in the novel who sees Maxim’s marriage to the narrator for the potential disaster it is.

Mrs. Van Hopper Quotes in Rebecca

The Rebecca quotes below are all either spoken by Mrs. Van Hopper or refer to Mrs. Van Hopper . 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 6 Quotes

“If you think I'm one of the people who try to be funny at breakfast you're wrong,” he said. “I'm invariably ill-tempered in the early morning. I repeat to you, the choice is open to you. Either you go to America with Mrs. Van Hopper or you come home to Manderley with me.”
“Do you mean you want a secretary or something?”
“No, I'm asking you to marry me, you little fool.”

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Maximilian de Winter (speaker), Mrs. Van Hopper
Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Maxim de Winter dines with the narrator in Monte Carlo. Abruptly, Maxim asks the narrator to marry him. His tone is brisk and matter-of-fact--there's no real compassion or love in his voice (he even calls the narrator a "little fool"), and both characters are clearly aware of their different roles (Maxim as the powerful male benefactor, and the narrator as the lower-class, helpless female) in the relationship.

The absence of any real passion or affection in this quotation reflects the continued distance between the narrator and Maxim, who is to become her new husband. Even after she's married and moves to Manderley, the narrator will continue to regard her husband with a combination of fear and uncertainty. And we, the readers, can't tell exactly why Maxim is asking for the narrator's hand in marriage. Perhaps he's genuinely attracted to the narrator, but perhaps he thinks of her a means to an end--a way of purging himself of any lasting feelings for Rebecca. Even by the end of the book, it'll be impossible to tell how Maxim feels after Rebecca--an ambiguity that has led some feminist critics to dub Maxim the real villain of the novel.

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“Naturally one wants you to be happy, and I grant you he's a very attractive creature but—well, I'm sorry; and personally I think you are making a big mistake—one you will bitterly regret.”

Related Characters: Mrs. Van Hopper (speaker), The narrator , Maximilian de Winter
Page Number: 66
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, the narrator--who's just gotten engaged to Maxim--crosses paths with her rather cruel former employer, Mrs. Van Hooper, for whom she's acted as a valet and travel partner. Van Hooper, who, it's been suggested, is jealous of the narrator's friendship with Maxim, tells the narrator that she doesn't approve of the marriage.

It's strange that such a simple quote from such an unimportant character should have such major ramifications for the narrator's relationship with Maxim. For the rest of the novel, the narrator continues to remember Van Hooper's words, eventually concluding that her former employer was right all along: she was wrong to marry such a mysterious, taciturn man. The fact that the narrator would be so disturbed by the opinion of a woman she despises suggests that the narrator herself is uncertain about her marriage to Maxim: she barely knows Maxim, and so she's afraid that Maxim thinks of her as a mere "cure" for his marriage to Rebecca.

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Mrs. Van Hopper Character Timeline in Rebecca

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs. Van Hopper 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 also remembers Mrs. Van Hopper , a woman she worked for long ago. One evening, the narrator was dining with... (full context)
Chapter 3
Memory Theme Icon
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
The narrator considers the fact that Mrs. Van Hopper ’s observation about Maxim de Winter changed the course of the narrator’s life. Years before,... (full context)
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
The narrator remembers the afternoon, years ago, when Mrs. Van Hopper was sitting on a sofa in the Hotel d’Azur. On the afternoon in question, Van... (full context)
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
The narrator, Maxim, and Mrs. Van Hopper proceed to have coffee together. Van Hopper says that Maxim must know her nephew, Billy.... (full context)
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
...asks her if she’s enjoying Monte Carlo, and the narrator is too surprised to respond. Mrs. Van Hopper interjects that the narrator is “spoiled,” a suggestion that Maxim doesn’t agree or disagree with.... (full context)
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
Later in the afternoon, the narrator prepares to play bridge with Mrs. Van Hopper . Bridge is dull for the narrator, since she plays with Van Hopper’s friends, who... (full context)
Chapter 4
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The day after meeting Maxim de Winter, Mrs. Van Hopper wakes up with a fever of 102. While the doctors care for Van Hopper, the... (full context)
Memory Theme Icon
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
...rudeness. The narrator says that Maxim wasn’t rude—at least not a form of rudeness that Mrs. Van Hopper would understand. As they eat, the narrator thinks about Manderley, the source of Maxim’s fame... (full context)
Memory Theme Icon
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
The narrator explains to Maxim that she works for Mrs. Van Hopper for a sum of 90 pounds a year. Maxim is confused about why the narrator... (full context)
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
...of the meal, Maxim tells the narrator that she’s made a mistake in working for Mrs. Van Hopper . The narrator is too young, Maxim claims, for such work—she should be thinking of... (full context)
Memory Theme Icon
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
...front page of the book there’s a message: “Max—from Rebecca. 17 May.” She remembers something Mrs. Van Hopper told her the previous day: Maxim’s wife died years ago, drowning in a bay near... (full context)
Chapter 5
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
...first love” not once but twice. She remembers the days after meeting Maxim de Winter. Mrs. Van Hopper , still bedridden but not really sick, demands to know where the narrator has been... (full context)
Memory Theme Icon
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
...In the car, the narrator thinks about going back to her old life, dining with Mrs. Van Hopper and trying to forget about Maxim. Suddenly, Maxim puts his arm around the narrator. He... (full context)
Memory Theme Icon
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
...finds satisfying and comforting. For the rest of the day, the narrator plays cards with Mrs. Van Hopper . At one point, Van Hopper asks the narrator if Mr. de Winter is still... (full context)
Chapter 6
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
The narrator remembers the rest of her time in Monte Carlo with Mrs. Van Hopper . Van Hopper asks her if she’ll accompany her to New York at the end... (full context)
Memory Theme Icon
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Mrs. Van Hopper comes to the end of her time at Monte Carlo, and the narrator is seriously... (full context)
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Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The next morning, the narrator wakes up early and dines with Mrs. Van Hopper , who’s oblivious to her companion’s sadness. Suddenly, the narrator gets up and goes to... (full context)
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Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
...hotel. Maxim tells her that he’s going to break the news of the engagement to Mrs. Van Hopper . Together, they walk to Mrs. Van Hopper’s hotel room. Instead of walking inside, the... (full context)
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
After Maxim leaves Mrs. Van Hopper ’s room, the narrator goes in, reluctantly and fearfully. Van Hopper is cold, and says... (full context)
Memory Theme Icon
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
The narrator leaves Monte Carlo with Maxim. But she can’t stop thinking about what Mrs. Van Hopper told her: Maxim is only marrying her because he’s slowly going insane after his wife’s... (full context)
Chapter 7
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 8
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
...food, the scheduling, etc. Slowly, the narrator takes a pen and writes a letter to Mrs. Van Hopper , explaining that everything is well with her. As she writes, she thinks that she... (full context)
Chapter 18
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
...gets out of bed, she realizes that she’s simply not suited for life with Maxim— Mrs. Van Hopper was right all along. Maxim wants to have a new wife, but deep down he... (full context)