The most obvious and evocative symbol in Rebecca is Manderley, the manor house in which Maxim, and later the narrator, live. Manderley is a centuries-old estate, ruled by the de Winter family for generations. At the most basic symbolic level, Manderley is an embodiment of the past: a huge, sprawling place where tradition and remembrance are all-important. We can see this very clearly through the character of Mrs. Danvers, who worships Manderley above everything else: not only does she follow the strict schedule of a large estate at all times, but she’s also committed to worshipfully preserving the memory of her previous mistress, the charismatic Rebecca de Winter. However, for most of the other characters in the novel, such as Maxim, Manderley and its memories aren’t so pleasurable. Maxim wants to forget about Rebecca, who was (supposedly) evil and manipulative, but because Rebecca is so intimately tied to Manderley—which is to say, to his past—he’s unable to do so. The symbolism comes to its logical (and inevitable) conclusion at the end of the novel, when Manderley is engulfed in flames—presumably set on fire by the heartbroken or vengeful Mrs. Danvers. At the precise time when Maxim and the narrator are finally ready to forget Maxim’s sordid past with Rebecca, they find that Manderley has been destroyed.
Manderley Quotes in Rebecca
On and on, now east now west, wound the poor thread that once had been our drive. Sometimes I thought it lost, but it appeared again, beneath a fallen tree perhaps, or struggling on the other side of a muddied ditch created by the winter rains. I had not thought the way so long.
“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.”
There was no moon. The sky above our heads was inky black. But the sky on the horizon was not dark at all. It was shot with crimson, like a splash of blood. And the ashes blew towards us with the salt wind from the sea.