The characters of the novel are constantly receiving, finding, and destroying written letters, which symbolize the power and limitations of the written word. Letters are Philip’s primary mode of communication with Ambrose, and the only “proof” Philip has that Rachel might be a murderer, though he almost always destroys such letters by ripping, burning, or burying them. While letters are critical plot devices, revealing new information that the characters and reader otherwise would never learn, they often result in more confusion than clarity. Some of Ambrose’s letters are unfinished or illegible; Ambrose also admits that he never sent some letters, and that he thinks still others may have been lost. Furthermore, Ambrose has left important information out of his letters to Philip, such as the news of Rachel’s miscarriage. In this way, du Maurier also uses letters as a tangible manifestation of how difficult it is to ever truly know another person.
Letters Quotes in My Cousin Rachel
I don’t know what I thought to see. Something bold, perhaps, with loops and flourishes; or its reverse, darkly scrawled and mean. This was just handwriting, much like any other, except that the ends of the words tailed off in little dashes, making the words themselves not altogether easy to decipher.