My Cousin Rachel

by

Daphne du Maurier

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My Cousin Rachel: Chapter 22 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Philip goes back inside, feeling “calm and still.” He falls asleep, and when he wakes, he goes outside and picks camellias to bring to Rachel. He finds her sitting up in her bed, eating breakfast, the opened document on her tray. Rachel sends Philip away before Seecombe can see him. Her “cool voice” mutes Philip’s spirits slightly, but he realizes she is right not to want the servants knowing about their engagement before they officially announce it.
Philip is confused when his joyful mood is not matched by Rachel’s cool poise. He knows she has read the document bequeathing her the estate, but he does not infer that his “gift” of the estate may have something to do with Rachel’s mood. This passage is only the beginning of a sustained gap in understanding between Philip and Rachel that they do not take time to talk about until it is too late.
Themes
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Downstairs, Seecombe presents Philip with a portrait of himself, and the two hang it in the hall together. Philip refrains from telling Seecombe of his engagement to Rachel because he thinks he and Rachel should share the news together. Philip then goes to his office to work, feeling “all the fever of last night” once again. Impatient to see Rachel, he asks the servants to pack them a picnic lunch, and soon learns that Rachel left in the carriage at ten in the morning. By two o’clock Rachel still has not returned, so Philip dejectedly goes for a walk in the woods.
Philip is aware enough of social graces that he realizes he and Rachel should make a joint announcement of their “engagement.” However, he does not pause to consider the fact that the servants would likely be horrified to know that Philip intends to marry Rachel less than a year after Ambrose’ death. The fervency of Philip’s feelings for Rachel have caused him to lose perspective on how taboo their romantic relationship actually is.
Themes
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While walking, Philip spots the carriage; he bids it stop and climbs in beside Rachel, who reveals that she has been to Pelyn to consult with Nick Kendall. Rachel says Kendall has clarified the document for her, but Philip finds her voice “cool and unattached.” With her veil over her face, he thinks, she is “a world away from the Rachel who had held me against her heart.”
Philip seems to think that because Rachel had sex with him, she is in love with him and has agreed to marriage. Though the reader knows this is not necessarily the case, it is still moving to see how badly Philip wants to feel close to Rachel. However, Philip does not acknowledge the fact that, even though Rachel held him against her heart last night, he still does not actually know her that well.
Themes
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Jealousy, Possessiveness, and Unknowability Theme Icon
Rachel’s cool demeanor perplexes Philip. “Since yesterday,” he thinks, “everything was changed. Yet she gave no sign of it.” Rachel even mentions that she still intends to go to London. Philip is dismayed, and his dejection increases when he realizes for the first time that with “Ambrose but nine months dead […] the world would think it wrong for us to marry before midsummer.” Philip asks Rachel to walk with him in the woods instead of going directly home, and she agrees.
Philip’s statement is key: “Since yesterday, everything was changed. Yet she gave no sign of it.” Philip assumes that sex has inherent meaning. This may or may not be true for Rachel—the reader has no way of knowing. Clearly, Philip thinks Rachel owes him a certain kind of behavior since they have been intimate with each other. While du Maurier does not offer answers about whether Rachel or Philip is in the right, she exposes the complex expectations and emotions that sex entails, and which Phillip did not at all anticipate.
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Philip kisses Rachel passionately in the woods, telling her, “This […] was my plan, which you have spoilt by lunching with the Kendalls.” Rachel replies: “I rather thought it might be […] which is one of the reasons why I went.” She adds that it will take time for her to “grasp the full measure of [Philip’s] generosity” in bequeathing her the estate. She gives Philip his birthday gift, a cravat pin, and then asks to return home.
It seems that Rachel is regretting having slept with Philip, since she now realizes that it has caused him to expect more affection from her than she is willing to give. Even though Rachel was in the position of power during the sexual encounter itself, du Maurier highlights the fact that the sex didn’t ultimately happen on Rachel’s terms, since Philip now has expectations of her to which she does not want to conform.
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While walking home, Philip and Rachel pass the granite stone—Ambrose’s “tombstone.” Rachel insists on stopping to see it, and Philip is suddenly overcome by the feeling that he has “betrayed” both Rachel and Ambrose. Philip and Rachel return home, and Rachel goes straight to her room. Philip, in his own room, is unable to shake the words of Ambrose’s letter, buried under the granite slab: that money is the “one way” to Rachel’s heart.
The fact that Philip feels so torn about his loyalty to these two characters, who respectively represent a father and a mother figure in his life, implies that Philip is still much more of a child than he imagines himself to be.
Themes
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Philip and Rachel dine. Rachel wears the pearl collar, but Philip finds this makes her “not closer to [him], but more distant.” Philip feels a sense of desperation, and drinks wine in an effort to “forget the granite slab and what it stood for in our inner selves.”
It seems that Philip no longer takes pleasure in seeing Rachel wear the pearl necklace because it now legally belongs to her. This means it no longer symbolizes Philip’s “ownership” of Rachel.
Themes
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Soon after dinner, the Kendalls stop by to celebrate Philip’s birthday. Heavily inebriated by this point, Philip has resolved to announce his engagement to Rachel. He drunkenly breaks the news, and Rachel quickly explains to Nick Kendall and Louise that “the birthday and the wine have gone to Philip’s head.” She then ushers them into the drawing room, leaving Philip feeling as though there is “a kind of vacuum where [his] heart had been.”
Du Maurier relays Philip’s confusion and heartbreak empathetically. Philip and Rachel have fundamentally misunderstood one another, and though Philip’s assumptions about what Rachel owes him may be unfair, du Maurier suggests that Philip still deserves to be pitied for the way in which he has so publicly had his heart broken.
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Philip stays in the dining room, and listens as the Kendalls leave. His head a bit clearer, he stands and meets Rachel at the stairs. Rachel tells him: “You make me feel like a backstairs servant, creeping to some attic with a groom. I have known shame before, but this is the worst.” Philip retorts that Rachel was “not ashamed last night at midnight,” when she gave him her promise to marry him. Rachel claims she made no such promise, and insists that she will never marry Philip. “Do you dare to reproach me for what happened?” she asks. “I wanted to thank you, that was all. You had given me the jewels.”
Just as Philip was within his rights to feel embarrassed and confused in the preceding scene, du Maurier makes it clear that Rachel has a right to her humiliation as well. Rachel is upset because Philip has made it seem as though Rachel has no respect for Ambrose. Even more than being publicly embarrassed, Rachel seems to feel genuinely guilty about having slept with Philip so soon after losing Ambrose. Philip’s accusation that Rachel was “not ashamed at midnight” is all the more cruel for this reason, since it throws Rachel’s own sexual desire back in her face, as if to humiliate her even further. Rachel, too, is cruel in suggesting that the only reason she slept with Philip was to thank him for the jewels. This fraught conversation captures the complexity of sex and the vital need for communication if two people hope to ever understand the slightest thing about one another.
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Philip is stunned. He thinks the only way he can now influence Rachel is with fear, so he wraps his hands around her throat and begins to strangle her as he entreats her to promise never to leave him. When Philip finally releases Rachel, he says, “Will you marry me now?” Rachel backs away slowly, “her eyes still upon [Philip’s] face, her fingers still to her throat.” Philip hears Rachel lock herself in her room, as he looks at “[his] own shadow on the wall, a monstrous thing, without shape or substance.”
In this passage, Philip is rendered completely unsympathetically. His violence toward Rachel is hateful—even he seems to recognize this, since his own shadow strikes him as looking “monstrous.” Still, Philip doesn’t take responsibility for his horrible actions, either by apologizing to Rachel or by admitting that he acted reprehensibly.
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