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Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Analysis

Themes and Colors
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Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Rebecca, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon

Rebecca is a dated novel in many ways. When it was published, about 75 years ago, assumptions about how women, especially married women, should behave were markedly different than they are today. To “get into” the novel, readers would have to believe that the public would be shocked by the thought of a wealthy aristocrat divorcing his wife—something that seems fairly uncontroversial by modern standards. Additionally, Du Maurier blurs many of the sexual details of her novel: it’s unclear, for example, if the narrator sleeps in the same bed as her husband, if she ever has sex with him, if she’s attracted to other men, etc. (We should also keep in mind that many of these omissions reflect the publishing norms of the 1930s, rather than du Maurier’s artistic decisions.) It’s worth thinking a little more closely about the ways in which Rebecca’s portrayal of gender roles has aged badly, and the ways in which it was ahead of its time.

The biggest challenge to a pro-feminist interpretation of Rebecca is Rebecca herself. As we learn more about Rebecca, our impression of her becomes increasingly negative. We learn that Rebecca was a two-faced liar, that she was a skilled manipulator of everyone around her, that she had extramarital affairs, that she was “loose” in London, etc.—by the final chapters, Rebecca seems to be the book’s primary antagonist, while Maxim de Winter, Rebecca’s one-time husband, seems like her helpless victim. Any conclusion about Rebecca’s merits as a work of feminism must stem from a conclusion about whether or not we agree with this interpretation of Rebecca’s character. By modern standards, Rebecca doesn’t seem so bad. As far as her duplicity and her reckless affairs are concerned, she could even be considered a victim of the sexism of her era (it’s also telling that we only learn the “truth” about her from Maxim himself). If du Maurier agrees with Maxim that Rebecca is a villain, then Rebecca is a more simplistic novel overall, as well as badly dated in its treatment of gender roles: it judges Rebecca (and sentences her to death!) according to a set of rules for female behavior that simply don’t carry much currency anymore.

A more radical interpretation of Rebecca is that du Maurier herself disagrees with Maxim’s take on his wife. Though du Maurier herself never weighed in on this possibility, critics have suggested that Maxim is the real villain of the novel: he’s a controlling husband who expects his wife to behave like an obedient child, then lashes out at her when she refuses to play along. (Some critics have likened Rebecca de Winter to Bertha Mason from Jane Eyre—another character who could be either the hero or the villain of her own story.) Judging from the way he treats his second wife, the narrator (he calls her “lamb” and “child” countless times), Maxim is sexism incarnate, a domineering man whose obsession with appearances is so great that he remarries mere months after his first wife’s death.

Even if it will never be clear whether or not du Maurier agreed with feminist critics’ interpretation of her novel, Rebecca is an important feminist work insofar as it studies the ways that men dominate women. The narrator feels that she’s constantly being watched during her time at Manderley: her smallest action is measured against a social standard for how “proper ladies” should behave. Perhaps most tellingly, we never learn the narrator’s real name: she’s only ever known as Madame de Winter. The narrator’s identity is subsumed into her husband’s name and family history. Du Maurier suggests that (heterosexual) marriage is itself a sexist institution: the woman not only takes her husband’s name, but she’s also forced to structure her new life around the husband’s existence.

In some ways, Rebecca reflects the social mores of the early 20th century England. Yet in other ways, it critiques society’s assumptions about how women, especially married women, should behave. It’s telling that du Maurier complained that no one understood Rebecca when it was first published: critics, she claimed, didn’t understand that it was a novel, first and foremost, about a weak woman under the influence of a strong man. By applying an uncommon level of psychological depth to this theme, du Maurier makes what could be a conventional mystery novel an important—and at times prophetic—feminist work.

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Feminism and Gender Roles Quotes in Rebecca

Below you will find the important quotes in Rebecca related to the theme of Feminism and Gender Roles.
Chapter 5 Quotes

“When we climbed the hills and looked down over the precipice. I was there some years ago, with my wife. You asked me if it was still the same, if it had changed at all. It was just the same, but—I was thankful to realize—oddly impersonal. There was no suggestion of the other time. She and I had left no record. It may have been because you were with me. You have blotted out the past for me, you know, far more effectively than all the bright lights of Monte Carlo.”

Related Characters: Maximilian de Winter (speaker), Rebecca de Winter , The narrator
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, the narrator--at this point a young, shy, unmarried woman--gets to know Maxim de Winter, the man who will one day become her husband. Maxim explains to the narrator that he was once married. He and his former wife traveled all over Monte Carlo, and once visited the very hill where he and the narrator are currently standing.

As Maxim goes on to explain, he likes the narrator because she helps him forget the pain of his former wife. Maxim doesn't go into any detail about what his marriage to Rebecca was like (we the readers don't understand the marriage until the end of the novel). And yet it's clear that Maxim is looking to forget his past: the narrator is a kind of "medicine," helping Maxim move on with his life. By 21st century standards, Maxim's speech is rather sexist: he treats the narrator as a means to the end of his own happiness, and seems to have little interest in the narrator's personality. In this sense, the quotation is confusing: we're not sure if we're meant to pity Maxim for his loss, reject his narrow-minded sexism, or both.


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How many times she must have written to him thus, in how many varied moods. Little notes, scrawled on half-sheets of paper, and letters, when he was away, page after page, intimate, their news. Her voice, echoing through the house, and down the garden, careless and familiar like the writing in the book.

And I had to call him Maxim.

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Rebecca de Winter , Maximilian de Winter
Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:

The narrator begins to enter into a strange competition with Rebecca, Maxim de Winter's dead wife. Rebecca and Maxim seem to have enjoyed a close marriage for many years--hence Rebecca's habit of calling Maxim "Max." The narrator, by contrast, has been instructed to refer to Mr. de Winter as "Maxim." As the narrator interprets things, she's more removed from Maxim's thoughts and feelings. Even after the narrator marries Maxim, she's not really close with him--she begins to sense that Maxim is still in love with Rebecca, hence the distance implied by "Maxim."

It's strange to think that the narrator is "competing" with Rebecca for Maxim's affections. Throughout the novel, though, Rebecca will exert a powerful influence over the characters, albeit from beyond the grave. Rebecca could also be considered a strong maternal presence, against whom the narrator must rebel in an Oedipal sense. (See Themes.)

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.

“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.

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 9 Quotes

“You see,” she said, snapping the top, and walking down the stairs, “you are so very different from Rebecca.”

Related Characters: Beatrice Lacy (speaker), Rebecca de Winter , The narrator
Page Number: 107
Explanation and Analysis:

Here the narrator meets Beatrice Lacy, the sister of Maxim de Winter. At the end of Beatrice's visit to Manderley, the narrator speaks with Beatrice one-on-one, and Beatrice lets slip that the narrator is very different from Rebecca, Maxim's former bride.

Up to this point, the name "Rebecca" has been spoken aloud barely at all. Beatrice says what everyone--Maxim, Mrs. Danvers, and even the narrator herself--has been thinking all along: Rebecca was a very different kind of woman from the narrator. Where the narrator struggles with her duties as the wife of an English aristocrat, Rebecca (reportedly) handled her social obligations with impressive skill, reflecting her comfort in the world of elites. While Beatrice's words might sound shocking and rude, they have a peculiar effect on the narrator. After thinking about the comparisons between herself and Rebecca for so long, it's oddly satisfying for the narrator to hear Beatrice speaking the obvious truth. 

Chapter 11 Quotes

I heard myself saying boldly, brazenly, “Rebecca must have been a wonderful person.”
I could not believe that I had said the name at last. I waited, wondering what would happen. I had said the name. I had said the word Rebecca aloud. It was a tremendous relief. It was as though I had taken a purge and rid myself of an intolerable pain. Rebecca. I had said it aloud.

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Rebecca de Winter
Page Number: 126
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, the narrator takes a leap and speaks the name of Maxim de Winter's former wife, Rebecca. The narrator is in the middle of a visit to the wife of the local bishop--one of her many duties as the wife of an English aristocrat. Away from her husband--who refuses to hear the name Rebecca at any time--the narrator takes the opportunity to vent some of her pent-up frustrations, and speaks Rebecca's name in a kind of cathartic release.

The narrator has been frightened of Rebecca for a long time now, even though Rebecca has been dead for more than a year. She feels that she's an incompetent, childish young woman, whereas Rebecca must have been an impressive, beloved wife to Maxim. After repressing her guilt and fear for so long, it's enormously satisfying for the narrator to name the source of her frustrations. The quotation is important because it signals that the narrator is beginning to explore the mysteries of Manderley, starting with the mysteries' source, Rebecca herself.

Chapter 15 Quotes

She had relaxed against the pillows, plucking at her shawl, and her mouth began to tremble. “You talk too much, all of you. I don't understand.” Then she looked across at me, a frown on her face, and began shaking her head. “Who are you, my dear, I haven't seen you before? I don't know your face. I don't remember you at Manderley. Bee, who is this child? Why did not Maxim bring Rebecca? I'm so fond of Rebecca. Where is dear Rebecca?”

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Gran (speaker)
Page Number: 188
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, the narrator goes with Beatrice to visit Maxim's aging, senile grandmother, "Gran." To the narrator's horror, Gran doesn't realize that Rebecca has died: as far as she's concerned, the narrator is a kind of impostor, "stealing" the role of wife away from Rebecca, the rightful owner.

Gran's behavior in this scene, senile though it might be, literalizes the narrator's own feelings of insecurity at Manderley. True enough, the narrator does feel like an impostor: thanks to the severity of Mrs. Danvers, the narrator thinks of herself as an inadequate replacement for Rebecca. The narrator lacks confidence in her own abilities, to the point where she begins to hate herself simply for not being Rebecca.

Chapter 16 Quotes

He considered me a moment, his eyebrows raised, whistling softly. “Listen, my sweet. When you were a little girl, were you ever forbidden to read certain books, and did your father put those books under lock and key?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Well, then. A husband is not so very different from a father after all. There is a certain type of knowledge I prefer you not to have. It's better kept under lock and key. So that's that. And now eat up your peaches, and don't ask me any more questions, or I shall put you in the corner.”
“I wish you would not treat me as if I was six,” I said.

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Maximilian de Winter (speaker)
Page Number: 205
Explanation and Analysis:

The narrator has brought up the issue of Rebecca to Maxim de Winter himself. But instead of opening up about the issue to his wife, Maxim clams up, condescendingly claiming that the narrator is too young and childish to understand Maxim's feelings. As Maxim explains it, the narrator is like a young child, who needs to be kept out of a library for her own good.

As the narrator readily points out, Maxim is treating her like a tiny child. Moreover, Maxim is obtusely implying that the narrator is the problem--i.e., that she's curious about things that should be left alone--when in fact it's Maxim himself who's to blame for being too cowardly to discuss the truth with another person. The narrator has felt that she's being treated condescendingly for some time now, but it's not until this scene that she tells Maxim how she's feeling--a sure sign that the narrator is becoming stronger and more assertive.

“What the hell do you think you are doing?” he asked. His eyes blazed in anger. His face was still ashen white.
I could not move, I went on standing there, my hand on the banister.
“It's the picture,” I said, terrified at his eyes, at his voice. “It's the picture, the one in the gallery.”
There was a long silence. We went on staring at each other. Nobody moved in the hall. I swallowed, my hand moved to my throat. “What is it?” I said. “What have I done?”

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Maximilian de Winter (speaker)
Related Symbols: The White Dress
Page Number: 217
Explanation and Analysis:

In this uncomfortable scene, the narrator prepares to enter the Manderley summer ball, a fixture of social life in the community. With Mrs. Danvers's help, the narrator has chosen for her costume a beautiful white dress. To her horror, though, the narrator discovers--as she enters the party itself--that the dress is identical to one worn by Rebecca years before. Mrs. Danvers has tricked the narrator into humiliating herself in front of her guests and her husband.

The scene is designed to show the narrator in a state of total cluelessness: at this point, the narrator has no idea what she's done, or why her behavior has enraged Maxim. And yet we, the readers, can already guess what's going on. The narrator has dared to wear Rebecca's clothes--symbolically, she's attempted to step into Rebecca's role as wife and socialite, and she's utterly failed. In short, the passage confirms the narrator's worst fear: that she's an embarrassing, inadequate substitute for Rebecca de Winter.

Chapter 17 Quotes

I remember Robert dropping a tray of ices, and the expression of Frith's face when he saw Robert was the culprit and not one of the minions hired for the occasion. I wanted to go to Robert and stand beside him and say “I know how you feel. I understand. I've done worse than you tonight.”

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Frith , Robert
Related Symbols: The White Dress
Page Number: 228
Explanation and Analysis:

In the immediate aftermath of her humiliation at the party, the narrator falls into a state of trancelike calm. She's been so utterly embarrassed by Mrs. Danvers that she feels she can't sink any lower. And yet in the depths of her humiliation, the narrator seems to mature. Before the party, she was shy and mousy, avoiding conversation as much as possible; now, she's become more sympathetic and comfortable with her servants--she reaches out to Robert when he makes a mistake, offering sympathy and support.

In short, the passage shows the narrator regrouping after her embarrassment, and growing from a shy young woman into a mature adult. The passage is also important because it illuminates a crucial difference between the narrator and Rebecca. Rebecca was a glamorous socialite, but she was also cold and bullying. The narrator, by contrast, is a reluctant hostess, but she's also compassionate in a way that Rebecca could never match.

Chapter 18 Quotes

That was why I had come down last night in my blue dress and had not stayed hidden in my room. There was nothing brave or fine about it, it was a wretched tribute to convention. I had not come down for Maxim's sake, or Beatrice's, for the sake of Manderley. I had come down because I did not want the people at the ball to think I had quarreled with Maxim. I didn't want them to go home and say, “Of course you know they don't get on. I hear he's not at all happy.” I had come for my own sake, my own poor personal pride.

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Maximilian de Winter , Beatrice Lacy
Related Symbols: The White Dress
Page Number: 235
Explanation and Analysis:

In the aftermath of her humiliation, the narrator makes the difficult choice to continue with her party. Mrs. Danvers has embarrassed her horribly, but instead of fleeing to her room, she decides to continue on with the party, playing the part of a gracious host.

It's important to note that it's the narrator's pride, nothing else, that compels her to continue on with her hosting duties. In a slightly different sense, the narrator chooses to continue on because she doesn't want her hundreds of guests talking about her behind her back: she's concerned with her reputation in the community. Ironically, in spite of Mrs. Danvers best efforts, the narrator's humiliation at her party has caused her to become a more competent hostess and a more confident partner to Maxim de Winter--she's finally playing the part of Maxim's wife. The narrator presents this as a character flaw, but in reality it's a sign of growth--she's doing things for her own sense of dignity and self-respect, rather than just because she thinks Maxim (or Rebecca) would approve.

“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 19 Quotes

I was free now to be with Maxim, to touch him, and hold him, and love him. I would never be a child again.

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Maximilian de Winter
Page Number: 296
Explanation and Analysis:

In this chapter, the narrator has a bizarre and horrifying conflict with Mrs. Danvers, at the end of which the narrator asserts her right to live in Manderley and be married to Maxim. To her own surprise, the narrator realizes that she's cleansed herself of any feelings of fear or insecurity: where before she was afraid of Mrs. Danvers and afraid of not measuring up to Rebecca, the narrator is now calm and collected, confident that she's a better bride to Maxim than Rebecca ever was.

It's important to note that the quotation stresses that the narrator has grown up, as well as conquered her fears of Rebecca and Mrs. Danvers. In addition to being a mystery, Rebecca is also a coming-of-age story. Here, we learn how the narrator grows from a child to an adult: she gets over her feelings of insecurity and learns to be confident in herself.

Chapter 20 Quotes

“Our marriage was a farce from the very first. She was vicious, damnable, rotten through and through. We never loved each other, never had one moment of happiness together. Rebecca was incapable of love, of tenderness, of decency. She was not even normal.”

Related Characters: Maximilian de Winter (speaker), Rebecca de Winter , The narrator
Page Number: 275
Explanation and Analysis:

Maxim de Winter finally tells the narrator the truth about Rebecca. Contrary to what the narrator has always assumed, Rebecca was not a lovely, glamorous woman; on the contrary, she was a cruel, two-faced villain whom Maxim despised.

After this quotation, Maxim will go into great detail about why, exactly, Rebecca was so bad. But for now, it's crucial to notice that Maxim sums up Rebecca's faults by saying, "She was not even normal." For Maxim, the word "normal" means a few things: being a loving wife, being obedient to one's husband, doing one's duty as a hostess, etc. Many critics of the novel have pointed out that it's Maxim, not Rebecca, who comes across as a villain here. Maxim resents Rebecca, it could be argued, not because she's a particularly awful person, but because she refuses to go along with the sexist norms of society and be subservient to her husband.

“Yes,” I said, “my sweet, my love.” But I looked away from him so he should not see my face. What did it matter whether I understood him or not? My heart was light like a feather floating in the air. He had never loved Rebecca.

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Rebecca de Winter , Maximilian de Winter
Page Number: 278
Explanation and Analysis:

As Maxim explains to the narrator that Rebecca was a vile, hateful woman, the narrator is filled with happiness. In this quotation, we learn why: the narrator is thrilled to learn that Maxim never loved Rebecca.

It's important to notice that the narrator doesn't really understand Maxim any better than she did before: she doesn't really know anything about his personality or his character--the only thing that matters is that she, the narrator, isn't competing with Rebecca for Maxim's love. Strangely, even after the narrator learns that Rebecca wasn't the wonderful, glamorous woman she's been led to imagine, she can't help but compare herself to Rebecca: in a way, she's more interested in "beating" Rebecca than she is in understanding her own husband (or later accepting the fact that he murdered his former wife). Rebecca, it's been argued, is a Freudian mother-figure, competing with the narrator for Maxim's paternal love. The narrator's competition with Rebecca shows that she's still locked in an Electra Complex--a sure sign that she's not yet a fully mature adult.

Chapter 23 Quotes

“This business has been a shock to me, you know,” he said. “A bloody awful shock. Rebecca was my cousin. I was damn fond of her.”
“Yes,” I said. “I'm very sorry for you.”
“We were brought up together,” he went on. “Always tremendous pals. Liked the same things, the same people. Laughed at the same jokes. I suppose I was fonder of Rebecca than anyone else in the world. And she was fond of me. All this has been a bloody shock.”

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Jack Favell (speaker), Rebecca de Winter
Page Number: 329
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, the narrator talks to Jack Favell, the cousin of Rebecca. Jack, we've already noticed, is a somewhat sleazy, unpredictable character--not to be trusted in the slightest. After Rebecca's dead body is found in a washed-up boat, there's a renewed inquiry into the manner of her death. (We, and the narrator, know that it was Maxim who killed Rebeca.) The coroner concludes that Rebecca killed herself--a conclusion which satisfies many, but not Jack.

Much like Mrs. Danvers, Jack comes across as a sad, even pathetic character here. Jack continues to love a dead woman--a woman who, furthermore, probably never loved him in return. As the narrator becomes increasingly free of her obsession with Rebecca, the people around her seem to become increasingly obsessed with Rebecca--Jack is the perfect example. The passage also hints at a sexual relationship between Rebecca and Jack (a fact confirmed elsewhere), further reinforcing Rebecca's licentious, transgressive character—or else her confident, liberated personality.

Chapter 27 Quotes

I would learn more about the estate, too. I should ask Frank to explain things to me. I was sure Frank liked me. I liked him, too. I would go into things, and learn how they were managed. What they did at the farm. How the work in the grounds was planned. I might take to gardening myself, and in time have one or two things altered. That little square lawn outside the morning-room with the statue of the satyr. I did not like it. We would give the satyr away. There were heaps of things that I could do, little by little. People would come and stay and I should not mind. There would be the interest of seeing to their rooms, having flowers and books put, arranging the food. We would have children. Surely we would have children.

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Maximilian de Winter , Frank Crawley
Page Number: 382
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, the narrator and Maxim de Winter are driving back to Manderley, having resolved the mystery of Rebecca's "illness." With law enforcement satisfied that Rebecca died by suicide, Maxim is free of all suspicion--in short, he and the narrator can finally begin their life as a married couple, finally free of Rebecca's influence. In the car, the narrator plans her new life as Maxim's wife. Although she's been living at Manderley for months now, it's as if she's going there for the first time: she envisions doing all the things she should have been doing all along. The narrator has been too intimidated by Rebecca's memory to play the part of the aristocrat's wife--now, however, she's looking forward to doing so.

And yet there's a subtle hint that all is not well. The mention of Frank "liking" her suggests that the narrator is still a little dissatisfied with her marriage. (Notice that the narrator insists, "We would have children," even though the only man named in the passage is Frank, not Maxim) In short, the narrator seems be settling into her role as Maxim's wife, planning to host parties and give birth to children--as a good wife ought to, she believes--and yet there's also a suggestion that she's not entirely comfortable with such a role.