Remarks on Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier is a tale of insecurities in love and relationships. The story is of a younger woman who meets, falls in love with, and marries a wealthy older man who recently lost his wife. As she moves into his estate in the English countryside, Manderley, she is bombarded with all things related to his former wife, Rebecca. She begins to constantly fear this influential deceased woman and compare herself to her, which draws many insecurities and frustrations.
The novel is written in such a way as though you feel a friend is sitting next to you relating the accounts of her life. It can be both a pleasant and heart-wrenching experience. I found myself relating to the new Mrs. de Winter in many ways. She is young, shy, and a very self-conscious individual. She has to constantly live up to the expectations created for her by the woman who was before her. She strives to be independent and strong and to earn the respect of those around her. Du Maurier does an excellent job at conveying the emotions and issues the young woman goes through.
Mrs. Danvers, the housekeeper, is another well developed character worth mentioning. Whenever she is in the room she creates an aura of fear and unease. She is the ultimate antagonist in the story, but is generally kept passive.
“I heard the door behind me open, and it was Mrs. Danvers. We stared at one another for a moment without speaking, and I could not be certain whether it was anger I read in her eyes or curiosity, for her face became a mask directly she saw me. Although she said nothing I felt guilty and ashamed, as though I had been caught trespassing, and I felt the tell-tale colour come up into my face.”
The descriptions in this book are excellent. Du Maurier does a wonderful job at using facial expressions in her details to convey the emotions of the characters, since this is a first person narrative it is sometimes the only view into their emotions the reader has.
“His face was white, and his eyes strained and wretched with that dark lost look they had had when I first met him.”
“I could not speak, I went on staring at him. His eyes were the only living things in the white mask of his face.”
The imagery of the English countryside and Manderley is also very elaborate. Du Maurier writes in such a way that you can smell the flowers and hear the sea roaring.
“If I stood on the terrace and listened I could hear the murmur of the sea below me, low and sullen. A dull persistent sound that never ceased. And the gulls flew inland too, driven by the weather. They hovered above the house in circles wheeling and crying, flapping their spread wings. I began to understand why some people could not bear the clamour of the sea. It has a mournful harping note sometimes, and the very persistence of it, that eternal roll and thunder and hiss, plays a jagged tune upon the nerves.”
Overall this was a great book full of detailed imagery and a character that you could easily relate to. I would highly recommend anyone looking for a book about love with a little mystery to read this book.
As a random treat here is the trailer to the 1940 Hitchcock film version of this book: