Rebecca

Daphne du Maurier

BACKGROUND

Take Cinderella, add one part Gothic, one part Freud, and a dash of Scooby Doo – and the result will be Rebecca. This thriller was written by Dame Daphne du Maurier, an English chick who came from a well-off artistic family. Growing up, she basically did whatever she wanted without parents breathing down her neck 24/7. Pretty cool, but it left her with a lot of "issues" to deal with. In this story, she explores the psychological aspect of relationships and how the mind works to gain an understanding of them. It’s also about facing and coming to grips with our deepest, darkest secrets and weaknesses, all in an effort to get over them and live a happy life. Alfred Hitchcock, a famous film director, made this, as well as two other works by du Maurier (The Birds; and Jamaica Inn), into movies.

 

MAIN CHARACTERS

Rebecca: She was the first and original – and to Danny, "the real" – Mrs. de Winter. Over a year ago, she drowned in a boating accident…. Or was it accident? Everyone thinks she’s all that – she’s the object of everyone’s obsession.

The second Mrs. Maximillian de Winter: The narrator. No, you never find out what her name is, only that it is "a very lovely and unusual name." (Gee, thanks Daph.). She marries Maxim. She has a big-time inferiority complex going on – especially when it comes to Rebecca and the mystique of the dead woman but she is totally obsessed with her. Since she doesn’t have a first name, to make it easier, she will be referred to throughout this plotbyte as "Narrator" or "Mrs.#2."

Mr. Maximillian de Winter: You can call him "Maxim." Only Rebecca and Jack Favell call him "Max." He owns the phatty estate, Manderley. A nice guy at heart, though he has Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde moments when he snaps. These freak-out sessions are a result of a very bad thing he did in the past that tortures him to this day.

Mrs. Danvers: She was Rebecca’s personal maid and good friend – and she won’t let you forget it. Now she runs the joint. Mrs.#2’s enemy, Mrs. Danvers is a cold, conniving, intimidating bitch; screws with Mrs.#2’s head with endless mind-games. Pure evil. Referred to as "Danny" by Rebecca and Jack Favell.

Frank Crawley: Maxim’s agent and right-hand man in the management of the property. A really nice, genuine guy. Totally devoted and loyal to Mr. and Mrs. de Winter. He’s really uncomfortable talking about Rebecca and her death.

Jack Favell: Rebecca’s first cousin. He claims to have been her lover; he also claims that had Rebecca not died, they would have married. He is crude – the kind you don’t bring home to motha.

Ben: Son of one of Maxim’s tenants. He’s "the local half-wit" who spends his days on the beach at Manderley picking shells and stuff. Mumbles and babbles nonsense, though Maxim claims that it’s mostly an act – that Ben could speak intelligently if he wanted to. Paranoid that he is going to be put in the asylum.

Mrs. Beatrice Lacey: a.k.a. "Bee." Maxim’s older sister; 45 years old. Although critical at first, she comes to like Mrs.#2.

Major Giles Lacey: Beatrice’s husband. He allegedly did the wild thing with Rebecca.

Roger Lacey: Beatrice and Giles’ son. Presently at Eton, a fancy school, and will go to Oxford next year. Thinks only about horses. He is talked about, but never appears in person.

Gran: Maxim and Beatrice’s grandmother. She’s like Maxim except fragile, eighty-six years old and nearly blind. She liked Rebecca; in fact, she still thinks Rebecca is alive (because no one told her she died).

Mrs. Van Hopper: Narrator’s employer, training her to be a good companion. She is a tactless snob, pretending to be one of the "in-crowd" when, in reality, she is a nosy bore and a total outsider; none of the cool people like her. Like Narrator, we are embarrassed for her; she is shameless.

Blaize: Mrs. Van Hopper’s dressmaker in Monte Carlo.

Frith: A butler at Manderley.

Robert: Frith’s assistant.

Alice: Mrs.#2’s first personal servant. Superior; Mrs.#2 felt intimidated by her.

Clarice: Replaces Alice as Mrs.#2’s personal servant. A confidante to her as well. A wide-eyed young girl in awe of Mrs.#2.

Captain Searle: Harbour-master of Kerrith.

Inspector Welch: Involved in the inquest.

Colonel Julyan: Judge of Kerrith. He is in charge of the inquest.

Mr. Horridge: The coroner. He asks the questions at the inquest.

James Tabb: Boat-builder who converted Rebecca’s boat from the French fishing boat it was to a little yacht.

Dr. Baker: An doctor (an ob/gyn) in London; now retired. Rebecca had an appointment with him on the day she died.

Jasper: The de Winter’s two-year-old cocker spaniel.

 

PLOT

The Narrator describes the dream she had last night of Manderley, the estate in England where she used to live. She now lives in a hotel in a land far, far away with an unnamed guy; enough of the suspense: it’s Maxim. She then flashes back to tell of the events that led them to their current modest existence.

She meet Maxim when she works for Mrs. Van Hopper’s, and everyone chills at the Hotel Cote d’Azur in Monte Carlo (in France). Mrs. Van Hopper gets sick and has to stay in bed; this gives Narrator the opportunity to hang out with Maxim. Each day, for two weeks, they drive all over on day trips. There are moments when Maxim zones out and gets all weird, obviously taken over by memories of events surrounding Rebecca’s death. But this doesn’t matter to Narrator; she falls in love with him. When she gets better, Mrs.VH decides that she and Narrator will leave earlier than scheduled to sail to New York. So not cool. Maxim proposes to Narrator. Bye-bye, Narrator’s life as Mrs.VH’s slave girl; hello Narrator’s life as Mr. Maxim de Winter’s honeybun. Unfortunately, the only reason that Maxim wants to marry her is for companionship; being alone at Manderley with all the bad memories is making him crazy.

After taking a seven-week honeymoon around Europe, the newlyweds arrive at the fabled Manderley. Narrator, now "the second Mrs. de Winter," tries to fit into her new roles as Fresh Princess of Manderley and all-around high-class rich chick. She has no clue how she is supposed to behave; this makes her totally self-conscious: she feels neurotic, paranoid, anxious, and just plain insecure. She’s not worthy! She’s not worthy! The intimidating head servant, Mrs. Danvers, makes these feelings more intense – not only by her very existence, but also by the calculating mind games she plays with Mrs.#2. And then there’s the fact that everyone Mrs.#2 is introduced to compares her to Rebecca. It’s all "Rebecca this" and "Rebecca that" – always Rebecca, Rebecca, Rebecca!! It’s no surprise that Mrs.#2 develops an obsession with Rebecca. In an attempt to gain some sense of power over Rebecca, Mrs.#2 tries to learn as much as she can about her competition. She keeps her eyes and ears open for any information about Rebecca’s death; there is a sense of mystery surrounding it – and Mrs.#2 is curious to get the scoop.

Maxim starts to regret marrying Mrs.#2. She tells him that she loves him more than anything; she assures him that they will be okay. Maxim returns to being his old, distant self; Mrs.#2 returns to doing everything in her power to make him forget about the past which tortures him; by doing so, they will be able to start a new life together – and more important, out of the shadow of Rebecca.

While Maxim is in London for a few days, Mrs.#2 has a chance to snoop around. While she’s upstairs in the West Wing (where Rebecca and Maxim lived), she gets busted by Mrs. Danvers. Mrs. Danvers goes full force in messing with Mrs.#2’s head. She overwhelms Mrs.#2 with all things Rebecca and basically calls Mrs.#2 on her obsession with Rebecca and her insecurities about filling Rebecca’s shoes.

The bored people in and around Manderley sk Maxim and his new wife to throw the fancy ball that Maxim and rebecca had thrown before. They give in and plan the party; it will be in honor of Mrs.#2, a way for her to be introduced to everyone all at once. Mrs.#2 is unsure about what to dress up as. To her surprise, Mrs. Danvers becomes all nice and suggests Mrs.#2 dress up like Caroline de Winter, one of Maxim’s ancestors whose portrait is in the art gallery of Manderley. Mrs.#2 looks at the painting and thinks that it is the perfect costume; she doesn’t tell Maxim because she wants to surprise him. Before the riff-raff show up, Mrs.#2 makes her big entrance (drum roll and all). However, the reaction from everyone is silence and shock. It turns out that Rebecca wore the same outfit at the last fancy dress ball – a fact that Mrs. Danvers was completely aware of. (I know – what a conniving bitch.)

In the aftermath of this, Mrs.#2 comes to realize and accept that the fairy-tale life that she thought she could create for her and Maxim will not be. The memory of Rebecca is too strong to be overcome.

While outside, Mrs.#2 sees Mrs. Danvers watching her from a window of the West Wing. Mrs. #2 goes up there to confront the jerk about the costume incident. A bickering match ensues between the two women. Mrs. Danvers starts to freak out and go off on Mrs.#2. She pushes the poor girl toward the open window, telling Mrs.#2 that she may as well just kill herself; Mrs. Danvers kicks her while she’s down, saying how no one at Manderley likes her, she’s not happy in her marriage to Maxim – and oh, by the way, Maxim doesn’t love her; he wishes he were with Rebecca. Just as Mrs.#2 is about to jump, there is an explosion off in the distance. A ship has hit a reef and is stuck.

Mrs.#2 returns to the house after having checked out the broken-down barnacle barge; Maxim is off helping the ship’s crew deal with their predicament. Captain Searle comes over to inform the de Winters of a disturbing finding. While the diver was underwater inspecting the hull of the ship, he spotted Rebecca’s boat; he swam inside it and found a fleshless body. The story was that Rebecca was alone on the fateful night she died; and anyway, a battered body that washed ashore months after the accident was identified, by Maxim, to have been that of Rebecca. Captain Searle has to report the diver’s findings to the authorities. Maxim walks in on Captain Searle and Mrs.#2; Mrs.#2 runs off, unable to stick around and see Maxim’s reaction to Captain Searle’s news.

When they are alone again, Maxim confesses to some big-time shit: not only is the body in the sunken boat Rebecca’s, but he killed her. He shot her then took the dead body, sailed off-shore a bit, then took a spike and made holes in the bottom of the boat to sink it. After this confession, Maxim tells Mrs.#2 – for the first time ever – that he loves her; Mrs.#2 loves him more than ever. Maxim thinks he will be found out; but since he and Mrs.#2 are the only ones who know about the murder and cover-up, Mrs.#2 tells him that they just have to come up with a story; and then they will be able to finally live happily ever after. The story is simply that he was so crazed when he identified the remains that washed ashore; he made a mistake. As if the murder weren’t a big enough shock, Maxim proceeds to confess that he never loved Rebecca and she never loved him; in fact, he hated her. The only reason he stayed in the marriage was to avoid the embarrassment of divorce and of everyone finding out about the real Rebecca (namely that she was a slut who turned tricks out of her flat in London). Rebecca knows that she has him wrapped around her finger and can do whatever she wants; Maxim, on the other hand, can’t do shit.

Meanwhile, Mrs.#2 is totally psyched with the news that Maxim and Rebecca’s was a loveless marriage; she is pumped up. She no longer feels threatened by Rebecca. The news of the discovery hits the papers and an inquiry begins concerning the sinking of Rebecca’s boat. Inside, Mrs.#2 goes back to her anxious and paranoid self; on the outside, she wields control over the house like never before.

At the inquest, Maxim plays the husband whose overwhelming grief made him misidentify his wife’s body. All is going according to plan…that is, until the shipbuilder, Mr. Tabb, gets on the stand to comment on the seaworthiness of Rebecca’s boat. He can’t help but wonder who put the holes in the bottom of the boat. Mrs.#2 has a major panic attack; she thinks it’s curtains for Maxim. Maxim is asked if he knows anything about the holes in the boat. He acts righteous and oblivious to the truth. The questioning gets more intense and Mrs.#2 faints.

Frank Crawley drives her back to Manderley while the inquest continues. She rambles on with the worst case scenario that Maxim is going to be busted and sentenced to death for murdering Rebecca. Maxim gets home that evening with the news that the inquisition’s verdict was that Rebecca committed suicide. What was the motive? Who knows? A private burial is arranged for later that night; Rebecca will be buried at the de Winter family crypt. Maxim is now feeling optimistic about the future. After the burial, he and Mrs.#2 will be able to start their life for real.

Maxim goes off to the crypt to put the final nail in the coffin (so to speak). Mrs.#2 is chilling at home, thinking that she and Maxim are home free. But then, buzz kill: Jack Favell shows up. He is totally wasted. He is in a huff about the suicide verdict, accusing the de Winters of paying people off to lie about the truth. He is on a mission to prove that Maxim murdered Rebecca; no justice, no peace!

When Maxim gets home, Favell blackmails him; if Maxim doesn’t pay him so much money for life, he will take a note to the authorities that will prove that Rebecca was not suicidal the night she died. Maxim calls his bluff; he calls Colonel Julyan and tells him to come over. Julyan arrives, reads the note, and thinks nothing of it – primarily because Favell is stinking drunk; the Colonel is not impressed. To help prove his accusation, Favell has Ben brought over. When asked about that night, the half-wit plays see no evil, hear no evil; he is no help to Favell’s cause. Then Favell brings in Mrs. Danvers. But she doesn’t help either. However, she informs them of Rebecca’s appointment book. In it, they find that Rebecca visited a Dr. Baker in London on the day she died. Julyan decides that in the morning, they will go to question the Doctor. Both Maxim and Mrs.#2 think that the jig is up; it’s just a matter of time until their luck runs out and the truth is known.

The next day, Julyan, Maxim, Mrs.#2, and Favell go to question Dr. Baker in person. Indeed, Rebecca had an appointment with him that afternoon, though she used the alias Mrs. Danvers. It turns out that Rebecca had cancer. And with that, they have established a motive for suicide; Favell’s murder theory is destroyed. Nonetheless, Favell is hell-bent on revenge; he vows to get Maxim, come hell or high water. Then he drives off.

On the way back to Manderley, Julyan is dropped off at his sister’s house; he will take the train back. He suggests that Maxim and Mrs.#2 go to Switzerland for "vacation" (wink, wink; nudge, nudge). Mrs.#2 feels relief; the crisis is over; Rebecca can never hurt them again. She and Maxim stop for dinner. While Mrs.#2 chows down some grub, Maxim telephones Frank to hip him to the jive of what went down at Doctor B’s. Frank tells him that Mrs. Danvers packed up and blew the taco stand; no one knows where she went. Maxim doesn’t like that at all; he has a feeling that Danny is up to no good. He gets antsy and tells Mrs.#2 that they have to get back to Manderley tonight; he feels that something is not right.

As Maxim puts the pedal to the metal to hightail it to Manderley, Mrs.#2 falls asleep in the backseat and has a bunch of funky dreams. She wakes up screaming and in a cold-sweat, having dreamt about Rebecca. She gets in the front seat with Maxim as they continue westbound toward Manderley; it is 2.20am and they are only a few miles from home. In the distance beyond the hills, the sky is crimson colored; it can’t be sunrise because it’s too early and they’re looking to the west – not the east. Manderley is on fire; Manderley is no more.

 

CHAPTER BY CHAPTER

CHAPTER 1

  • Narrator had a dream that she was back at Manderley.
  • She and her companion (Maxim) are hundreds of miles away (presumably Switzerland), living in a hotel, leading a modest and tranquil life.
  • The past is the past; Manderley is no more.

CHAPTER 2

  • They can never go back; to do so would bring back to life all the stress and tension of the past.
  • Narrator talks life-after-Manderley: Maxim’s behavior in dealing with past events, their marriage, their daily routine.
  • She remembers little details about her life at Manderley. But again, reminds herself that the past is the past and this is a new chapter in her life with Maxim and wonders about Mrs. Danvers and Favell.
  • She thinks about how she has changed as a person as a result of the events of the past: she went from an insecure, neurotic, ignorant young girl to a bold, wise woman at ease with herself and life in general.
  • Flash-backs back to the day when she and Mrs. Van Hopper first saw Maxim while having lunch at the Hotel Cote d’Azur in Monte Carlo.
  • Thanks to the gossip queen, Mrs. VH, Narrator learns that Maxim owns Manderley and can’t get over the death of his wife.

CHAPTER 3

  • Mrs. VH’s wants to be part of the in-crowd.
  • As a ploy to approach Maxim and introduce herself, Mrs. VH tells Narrator to go to the room and bring back the letter from her nephew, Billy, who sort of knows Maxim.
  • Narrator takes her time because she senses that Maxim doesn’t want to be bothered but when she gets back, she finds the Mrs. VH already talking to Maxim. They have coffee.
  • While Mrs. VH bores Maxim with name dropping; gossip, Narrator is trying to remember the name of a portrait that Maxim reminds her of. It is of a Gentleman Unknown who wears a cloak and wanders hallways at night.
  • Maxim includes Narrator in the conversation. She is psyched about that, because no one ever includes her in conversations; they all treat her like a child.
  • A page-boy comes to tell Mrs. VH that her dressmaker, Blaize, is waiting for her.
  • Maxim makes a quick getaway; he just wants to be alone.
  • Mrs. VH and Narrator go up to the room to meet Blaize.
  • Page-boy comes in to deliver a note. Narrator thinks it’s for Mrs. VH, but no – it’s for her! The note is unsigned, but she knows it’s from Maxim. All it says is, "Forgive me. I was very rude this afternoon."

CHAPTER 4

  • Mrs. VH comes down with the flu. She will need to be tended by a nurse for two weeks. This means that Narrator is on her own.
  • She goes to lunch alone. In her awkwardness, she knocks over a vase. The tablecloth gets wet. Conveniently, Maxim is at the next table. He insists that she eat with him. She’s giddy.
  • He apologizes in person; she tells him that he wasn’t rude.
  • She mentions Manderley. He becomes quiet and detached. They continue to eat in silence.
  • Narrator remembers a postcard she bought as a child – a postcard of Manderley.
  • Maxim loosens up and asks her about Mrs. VH. Narrator tells him that Mrs. VH is training her to be a companion. Tells him her family is dead.
  • Maxim thanks her for the most enjoyable time he’s had in a long time. He says they are similar: they are both alone in the world.
  • People around the hotel suddenly treat her with respect because they see that she is with Maxim; she begins to feel important.
  • Maxim gives her a ride to a little square so that she can sketch.
  • While driving, Maxim stops on the edge of a cliff – almost driving over it. Maxim zones out; this is a place from his past. Narrator begins to think that he’s a freak. He snaps out of it and apologizes.
  • Maxim talks about Manderley – the house and property, not the life or people associated with it.
  • She thinks back to all the things that happened that day. And the questions and wondering begin.
  • She picks up a book of poetry Maxim lent her book and this time, it falls open on the dedication page: "Max--from Rebecca. May 17th." She takes note of the woman’s confident and bold handwriting. She gets all envious and begins to wonder about this Rebecca chick; Mrs. VH had mentioned to her that Rebecca drowned at Manderley and that Maxim never talks about the accident or about his wife.

CHAPTER 5

  • Narrator compares her feelings toward Maxim when she was a young girl then with her feelings now as a middle-aged woman. She remembers how excited she was to hang out with him. She wishes she could go back; but then, she realizes that it wouldn’t be the same. Everything has changed.
  • Narrator lied to Mrs. VH, telling her that she has been playing tennis.
  • Narrator wishes she were older and more elegant; Maxim likes her because she is neither of these.
  • She tells him a little about her life; she tries to ask him about his life. She mentions Rebecca and again, the conversation comes to a halt.
  • Maxim doesn’t like to remember the past; Narrator helps him forget about it. He wants to start life over. He enjoys Narrator’s company – and if she can’t deal with that, she can get out. Things get awkward, but he breaks the tension by telling her to call him "Maxim."
  • Back with Mrs. VH and her card-playing friends, Narrator zones out and starts obsessively thinking about Rebecca and what her marriage with "Max" was like.
  • Narrator is pissed about the fact that she has to call him Maxim and Rebecca got to call him "Max."

CHAPTER 6

  • Narrator thinks about the subject of leaving places and how when we do so, we leave a bit of ourselves behind. She is concerned with the present – not the past or the future.
  • Flashback to Narrator and Mrs. VH packing up to leave Monte Carlo; they are to meet up with Mrs. VH’s daughter and grand-daughter and sail to New York. Narrator is bummed.
  • Narrator plays out the scene of saying good-bye to Maxim. She is heartbroken to find out that he went out of town for the night; she won’t be able to say good-bye. She cries all night.
  • She imagines what Maxim will do upon returning to Manderley.
  • The next morning, Mrs. VH tells her to have their train reservations changed to the earlier train. Narrator goes to Maxim’s room to thank him. Maxim is not happy that Narrator will be taking off.
  • Maxim asks Narrator to choose between going to New York with Mrs. VH or to Manderley with him. This is his not-so direct way of proposing marriage to her. Narrator feels totally unworthy and taken aback. But she accepts.
  • Narrator starts daydreaming about what her life will be like at Manderley. She will be Mrs. de Winter. Manderley will be hers – all hers.
  • They go up to Mrs. VH’s room. Maxim goes in alone to tell her that Narrator is taking her job and shoving it so that she can marry Maxim. Meanwhile, Narrator starts hearing taunting voices, telling her to open the book of poetry that Maxim lent her. It opens to the dedication page. She carefully cuts it out, tears it up into little pieces, and throws them in the garbage can; but the writing is not destroyed – so she sets the pieces on fire. She feels free, confident, and ready to start this new adventure with Maxim.
  • Narrator goes in to talk to Mrs. VH one-on-one. They make small talk. Mrs. VH takes pleasure in telling Narrator that Maxim doesn’t love her; he just wants someone to live with him, because being at Manderley on his own is driving him crazy.

CHAPTER 7

  • Maxim and Narrator (now the second Mrs. de Winter) arrive at Manderley in early May after travelling around Europe for seven weeks on their honeymoon. She sort of wishes that they could have a normal life. She feels nervous and uncomfortable about being at Manderley; she wishes she could fast-forward to a time when she will be more settled in to this new lifestyle, because now, she feels like a visitor.
  • Narrator is introduced to the staff – including Mrs. Danvers. They are all curious about her. Meeting Mrs. Danvers is like meeting a corpse: cold and lifeless.
  • Mrs. Danvers shows Mrs.#2 the living quarters in the East Wing. Her head games directed at Mrs.#2 begin; Mrs.#2 is completely intimidated. Maxim tells Mrs.#2 to relax; Danny is harmless.
  • Mrs.#2 becomes more aware of Rebecca’s aura than ever before. She can’t help obsessing about the woman.

CHAPTER 8

  • At Manderley, it’s the same every day.
  • Mrs. #2 feels uncomfortable asking the servants to do anything for her; she would sooner do it herself than disturb them. She gets busted by Frith. Nonetheless, she tries to act all cool, like she knows what she’s doing; in reality, she has no clue.
  • She is introduced to her responsibilities as lady of the house – planning meals and whatnot. She is clueless as to how to do anything; she feels wholly inadequate.
  • Everywhere she looks, she is reminded of Rebecca.

CHAPTER 9

  • Beatrice and Giles arrive to meet their new in-law.
  • Mrs.#2 is so nervous about meeting them that she runs upstairs. She finds herself in the West Wing where Rebecca and Maxim had lived. She snoops around and is busted by Danvers. Danvers tells her that she doesn’t need to snoop – that she would be happy to give her a tour of the West Wing (but she’s just screwing with Mrs.#2). Danny takes Mrs.#2 back downstairs to be with the guests.
  • Maxim, Mrs.#2, Beatrice, Giles, and Frank Crawley have lunch; Mrs.#2 just wants everyone to leave so she can be alone with Maxim.
  • Mrs.#2 learns that Danvers resents her being at Manderley.

CHAPTER 10

  • Beatrice and Giles leave; Maxim and Mrs.#2 go for a walk down to the beach.
  • At the beach, Jasper runs off. Mrs.#2 goes to find him, leaving Maxim behind.
  • She goes into the boathouse/cottage to find some twine to make a leash for the dog. The place wigs her out and she runs out.
  • Ben is on the beach digging for shells and muttering about the fact that "she" is not coming back and that he never said anything to anyone about her.
  • Maxim is all pissy when Mrs.#2 comes back with Jasper. He tells her that he never wants to go near the cottage; he has too many bad memories.
  • Maxim regrets having come back to Manderley. This makes Mrs.#2 upset; she keeps from crying because she doesn’t want the servants to think that the marriage sucks.
  • Maxim apologizes for being a jerk; she tells him that she loves him.
  • Mrs.#2 finds Rebecca’s handkerchief in the coat she borrowed to go for the walk. The reminders of Rebecca keep coming and Mrs.#2’s obsession with Rebecca keeps growing.

CHAPTER 11

  • Mrs.#2 thinks about the day that she and Maxim went for the walk to the beach. She feels that there is a barrier between them.
  • As she meets more people, she becomes more insecure – everyone tells her that she is so much different than Rebecca. Besides, Mrs.#2 is sick of playing the woman of a big estate; she just wants to be laid back.
  • She has tea with the Bishop’s wife. The woman tells Mrs.#2 to urge Maxim to throw a fancy dress ball like he and Rebecca used to have.
  • Mrs.#2 gathers tidbits of info in the attempt to figure out the mystery about Rebecca; when she does that, she will understand why people get so weird any time Rebecca is mentioned.
  • Mrs.#2 mentions the ball to Frank. She tries to get information out of him – but he’s not giving up much 411. She feels guilty about prying. But she does learn more about the cottage and about Rebecca’s death.
  • Mrs.#2 says Rebecca’s name for the first time. Doing so stimulates her.
  • Mrs.#2 confesses her insecurities to Frank. He pumps her up, telling her that she’ll do just fine.
  • Mrs.#2 comes to see Frank as a pal and confidante.
  • Mrs.#2 learns from Frank that Rebecca was beautiful.

CHAPTER 12

  • Clarice becomes Mrs.#2’s personal maid. They get along well.
  • Mrs.#2 starts to feel bad for Mrs. Danvers, because Mrs. Danvers is constantly reminded of Rebecca. That must be painful. Boo-hoo.
  • Mrs.#2 can’t help thinking of the past. Rebecca invades her thoughts and dreams. This is a big roadblock to achieving happiness for her and Maxim.
  • Beatrice’s wedding gift arrives: four volumes of art history books. Mrs.#2 gets all weepy at the rare display of kindness towards her.
  • As she tries to arrange the books, they end up sliding and knocking over a really expensive Cupid statuette. She puts the broken pieces in an envelope and hides it at the back of the desk. La-la-la; pretends she didn’t do anything wrong.
  • The next day, Mrs. Danvers blames Robert for breaking the statuette. Mrs.#2 finally ‘fesses up. She apologizes to Mrs. Danvers. Mrs. Danvers thinks Mrs.#2 was stupid for not admitting it from the start. Mrs.#2 is paranoid, thinking Mrs. Danvers accused Robert just to see if Mrs.#2 had the balls to admit her guilt.
  • Mrs.#2 really intimidated by Mrs. Danvers.
  • Mrs.#2 starts to feel sorry for herself. She’s not worthy! She’s not worthy!
  • Maxim not sure if they’re happy – but as long as Mrs.#2 claims they are, he’ll accept that they are. He’s such a downer.
  • Mrs.#2 senses that Maxim has Rebecca on the brain. He doesn’t want to talk about it. Then he gets really detached, wondering about sports; yet again, Mrs.#2 is left in the dark.

CHAPTER 13

  • Maxim goes to London for a few days.
  • Mrs.#2 plays out a scenario that Maxim dies on his way to London. She is a neurotic. But when told that Maxim arrived safely, she gets all happy and relaxed.
  • Mrs.#2 wants to be alone.
  • She goes for a walk to the beach cottage with Jasper. She imagines the night of Rebecca’s death.
  • Snooping around the cottage, she comes upon Ben hiding behind a sail. He’s afraid Mrs.#2 is going to put him in the asylum. Starts babbling about Rebecca and how mean she was to him.
  • Mrs.#2 doesn’t like the cottage anymore. It’s freaking her out, like a haunted house.
  • Walking back up to the Manderley, she sees the figures of a man and woman in a window of the West Wing. It is Mrs. Danvers and Jack Favell. Mrs.#2 senses something sneaky is going down, especially after they ask that she not tell anyone about Favell’s visit.
  • Mrs.#2 is curious about the West Wing. She goes to check it out.

CHAPTER 14

  • The West Wing looks lived in, so much so that Mrs.#2 feels that Rebecca is going to walk in.
  • Mrs. #2 is bombarded with all things Rebecca.
  • Mrs. Danvers comes in and proudly busts Mrs.#2. Mrs.#2 is scared shitless.
  • Mrs. Danvers shows her around. She knows that Mrs.#2 is obsessed with Rebecca and just fuels the fire.
  • Mrs. Danvers tells Mrs.#2 about the night of Rebecca’s death.
  • Mrs. Danvers makes another move in her never-ending mind game with Mrs.#2, asking the young wife if she imagines that Rebecca’s spirit watches over her and Maxim. Mrs.#2 gets the hell out of there, locks herself in her room, and feels sick.

CHAPTER 15

  • Beatrice and Mrs.#2 go to visit Gran. Mrs.#2 wishes she could make Gran young again. The visit is mellow until Gran snaps. She wants Rebecca; where’s Rebecca? (No one told her Rebecca bit it.) It’s all awkward and Gran is riled up, so Beatrice and Mrs.#2 bolt.
  • Beatrice feels bad; Mrs.#2 says fuh-get about it; no big whoop.
  • Maxim is pissed at Mrs. Danvers for having Favell over. He doesn’t want that crude dude on his property ever again, ya hear? Mrs.#2 wonders who tattled on Mrs. Danvers.

CHAPTER 16

  • A bunch of people drop in. They urge Maxim and Mrs.#2 to throw another fancy dress ball; out of guilt, they agree.
  • Maxim tells Mrs.#2 that she should dress up as Alice in Wonderland. She says that she will come up with a better costume – one that will surprise everyone.
  • Mrs.#2 wishes that people would stop treating her like a baby.
  • Mrs. Danvers turns nice and suggests that Mrs.#2 dress up like the woman (maxim’s ancestor, Caroline de Winter) in a painting which is hanging in the gallery at Manderley. Mrs.#2 agrees. She is suspicious of Mrs. Danvers; why is she suddenly so nice?
  • Mrs.#2 tries to get Maxim to open up and tell her what’s on his mind. He’s not into it at all.
  • Manderley is prepared for the ball; it’s just like the old days (i.e. when Rebecca was alive).
  • Mrs.#2 gets in her Caroline de Winter costume and feels transformed – not her little ol’ self anymore. She’s all giddy and can’t wait to show everyone her costume.
  • She makes her big entrance while people are beginning to arrive. People are stunned when they see her; Mrs.#2 doesn’t understand their reaction. Maxim is mad as hell and tells her to change. Mrs. #2 runs upstairs all upset; Mrs. Danvers is there with a grin on her face.

CHAPTER 17

  • It turns out that Rebecca had dressed up as Caroline de Winter at the last Ball. Mrs. Danvers totally set up Mrs.#2.
  • Mrs.#2 wants to hide but she sucks it up, puts on a regular dress, and goes back down to the party to act as hostess. Maxim gives her the silent treatment the whole night; he doesn’t even touch her.
  • There are fireworks at the end of the party; then everyone takes off.
  • In the present, Narrator recalls that night in great detail.

CHAPTER 18

  • Mrs.#2 comes to realize and accept that her marriage is a failure; Maxim doesn’t love her because he can’t get over Rebecca; Rebecca will reign forever over Manderley – Mrs.#2 can’t compete with her.
  • Mrs. #2 feels sorry for herself. She is paranoid that everyone is talking about her.
  • She calls Frank and confesses her feelings and realizations to him. He tells her to calm down, get a hold of herself. He desperately needs to talk to her about something.
  • Mrs.#2 is paranoid that she will never see Maxim again. She hasn’t seen him since last night at the Ball.
  • Mrs.#2 is on a mission and goes up to the West Wing again. There, she finds Mrs. Danvers crying. She confronts Mrs. Danvers about the costume incident and how she did it on purpose. Danny admits her hate for Mrs.#2, because Mrs.#2 tries to replace Rebecca. Mrs.#2 gets all ballsy and demands respect.
  • Mrs. Danvers goes off in praise of Rebecca. She tells all the dark secrets about Rebecca’s marriage to Maxim. Mrs.#2 doesn’t want to hear about it; she doesn’t want to know anything about the past and Maxim as he was with Rebecca.
  • Mrs. Danvers says that Rebecca is the real Mrs. de Winter and Maxim doesn’t love her; Mrs.#2 may as well just leave Manderley. In fact, she should just kill herself. Mrs. Danvers pushes her toward the window, and in a really messed up way, tries to convince Mrs.#2 to jump. Right as the vulnerable woman is about to jump, there is an explosion off in the distance. A ship has hit a reef and is stuck.

CHAPTER 19

  • It’s a very hot day.
  • Mrs.#2 is zoned out about the suicide scene with Mrs. Danvers. All she wants to do is forget about the past and start life with Maxim free of baggage.
  • Everyone goes down to rubber-neck at the boat accident.
  • Maxim is helping the crew deal with the situation.
  • Mrs.#2 watches the locals who have gathered along the beach to gawk. She wishes she could become one of them – just a normal person.
  • She runs into Ben again. He is still babbling about Rebecca and how she’s never coming back.
  • When she gets back to the house, she feels like Manderley belongs to her and she belongs there; she feels like she has entered a new phase of her life (I guess coming face to face with suicide does that to a person).
  • Captain Searle shows up. He tells Mrs.#2 that while examining the hull of the ship, the diver discovered Rebecca’s sunken boat. And not only that: there were remains in it.
  • Maxim walks in. Mrs.#2 can’t deal, so she runs off while Searle hips Maxim to the jive about the discovery in the depths.
  • Mrs.#2 realizes this is a major crisis (nooo, really??). She will have to be strong.
  • When they are alone again, she tells Maxim that she is there for him. He is feeling sorry for himself, talking about how he and Mrs.#2 can never be happy because there is always Rebecca.
  • Maxim drops a bombshell: he murdered Rebecca and then sunk the boat, with her in it, to make it seem like an accident.

CHAPTER 20

  • For the first time, Maxim tells Mrs.#2 that he loves her. Mrs.#2 loves him more than ever.
  • The truth of Rebecca’s death hits Mrs.#2. Everything makes sense to her now; this is why Maxim was such a moody freak.
  • She’s in: they have to come up with a plan so that Maxim’s secret won’t be found out.
  • He confesses he never loved Rebecca; in fact, he hated her. She was a conniving bitch who slept around. But to avoid the embarrassment of bad press, he stays married to her. He was p-whipped big time – and Rebecca knew it.
  • Bit by bit, Mrs.#2 puts the pieces of the mystery together; it’s all starting to make sense.
  • She is totally psyched to learn that Maxim never loved Rebecca and that they were never happy.
  • Maxim killed Rebecca because she started doing the wild thing with Favell. Favell was bad news; Maxim was worried that Favell would reveal the truth to the public. Rebecca was totally selfish and could care less. She threatened to ruin him. So Maxim rubbed her out.
  • Maxim recounts the events of the night he killed Rebecca.
  • They come up with a story: Maxim simply misidentified the washed-up body; after all, he was distraught that his wife had died so tragically….

CHAPTER 21

  • Mrs.#2 is over Rebecca and Mrs. Danvers. She is no longer threatened and afraid of either of them.
  • Mrs.#2 is looking forward to start life with Maxim. She is so happy.
  • Mrs.#2 starts acting all confident and in control. For the first time, she starts acting like the lady of the house – ordering people around and stuff.
  • She, Maxim, Colonel Julyan, and Frank have lunch and talk about the inquest into Rebecca’s death. It’s all a formality; they have nothing to worry about.
  • Maxim doesn’t regret killing Rebecca. The only thing he feels bad about is that by telling Mrs.#2 his deep, dark secret, Mrs.#2 seems to be so much older now.

CHAPTER 22

  • Mrs. Danvers is illin’, what with finding out her God, Rebecca, was found in the sunken boat. When she gets better and goes back to work, she doesn’t talk to anyone; she becomes a loner.
  • The press is all over the discovery of the body; Frank will deal with the reporters so that Maxim and Mrs.#2 don’t have to worry about anything.
  • Mrs.#2 is convinced that Frank knows what Maxim did.
  • Mrs.#2, Maxim, Frank, Colonel Julyan go to the inquest. At first, Mrs.#2 sits in the car; she is scared to go in. She finally works up the courage to go in. Mrs. Danvers and Jack Favell are in the peanut gallery watching the proceedings.
  • Everything is going according to plan until the shipbuilder, Mr. Tabb gets on the stand and wonders who put the holes in the bottom of the boat. Mrs.#2 has a panic attack and faints; she thinks that Maxim is going to be found out.

CHAPTER 23

  • At Maxim’s request, Frank takes Mrs.#2 back to Manderley. Meanwhile, the inquest continues.
  • Mrs.#2 tells Frank she doesn’t trust Mrs. Danvers and Favell; she’s paranoid that they’re going to cause trouble.
  • Mrs.#2 gets carried away, imagining the worst-case scenario: that Maxim is going to be found out and put to death.
  • Maxim gets home that night. The verdict was suicide (even though no one knew a reason why Rebecca would kill herself).
  • While Maxim is at the crypt burying the real Rebecca, Favell shows up at Manderley. He is wasted, acting like a prick to Mrs.#2. He says that the verdict is bogus. He thinks that Maxim murdered Rebecca, and by God, he’s going to prove it. And by the way: he’s on to Maxim and Mrs.#2’s cover-up story.
  • Maxim and Frank arrive.
  • Favell claims that he and Rebecca were lovers. They would have eventually married, had she lived.
  • Favell shows them all a note that Rebecca left for him on the day she died. She had to tell him something very important.
  • Favell tries to blackmail Maxim – and if he doesn’t pay up, Favell will cause trouble.
  • Maxim calls Favell’s bluff and calls Colonel Julyan to ask him to come over. Mrs.#2 is totally wigged out; she thinks that the truth is going to come out any moment!
  • Colonel Julyan thinks nothing of the note. He is annoyed at Favell and asks him to prove his accusation.
  • Favell says Ben can prove it. But Ben comes over and plays dumb. Favell is pissed. Mrs.#2 is relieved.
  • Next, Favell brings in Mrs. Danvers to help his cause. Mrs.#2 wigs out again. But Danny doesn’t help either. Mrs.#2 is relieved again. But then Danny mentions Rebecca’s appointment book; maybe there’s a clue in there. Mrs.#2 wigs out.
  • They find that Rebecca had an appointment with a Dr. Baker, "women’s specialist" in London, on the day she died. No one knows who Baker is. This makes Mrs.#2 all paranoid again about Maxim being found out. She thinks the jig is up!

CHAPTER 25

  • They will have to go tomorrow and talk to Dr. Baker.
  • Mrs. Danvers figures out that Favell is accusing Maxim of murdering Rebecca.
  • Favell is psyched. He will meet them in the morning to go to talk to the doctor. See ya, suckers! He leaves.
  • Beatrice calls to bitch about the bogus suicide verdict; she thinks Maxim was set up by Communists.
  • Mrs.#2 just wants to stop the insanity. She tells everyone to relax and let the investigation take its course. Meanwhile, inside, Mrs.#2 is a basket case – as paranoid and neurotic as usual.
  • That night, Maxim and Mrs.#2 make out.

CHAPTER 26

  • It’s the next day.
  • Mrs.#2 thinks about Manderley and how it could never be destroyed; it is immortal.
  • Mrs.#2 has a weird feeling that something bad is going to happen today and that she will never see Manderley again.
  • Maxim, Mrs.#2, Julyan, and Favell drive to Doctor Baker’s house (it’s a long, long drive).
  • Mrs.#2 feels numb to what is going on around her. It’s almost like an out-of-body experience. She is so convinced that their luck is going to run out and Maxim is going to be busted.
  • Dr. Baker goes through his records and finds that Rebecca had indeed come for an appointment – but she used the name "Mrs. Danvers." He tells them that he diagnosed her with cancer. Bingo! There’s the motive for Rebecca’s suicide!
  • Everyone is stunned by the news.

CHAPTER 27

  • Favell can’t believe it. He leaves, but promises that he’ll – be – back. He will prove that Maxim killed Rebecca, if it’s the last thing he does!
  • On the way back to Manderley, Julyan tells Mrs.#2 and Maxim to forget about everything and get on with life. He asks to be dropped off at his sister’s house; he will take the train home the next day. He suggests the de Winters go to Switzerland – wink, wink; nudge, nudge; we think he suspects that Maxim murdered Rebecca.
  • Mrs.#2 is relieved. It’s finally over!
  • She and Maxim stop to eat dinner. Maxim calls Frank to tell him what happened with Dr. Baker. Frank tells him that Mrs. Danvers packed up and bailed Manderley; no one knows where she went.
  • This news freaks out Maxim. Mrs.#2 assures him that they are untouchable; no one can hurt them anymore. He still feels that something fishy is going on…. He wants to get home pronto.
  • Mrs.#2 sleeps on the way home. She has a bunch of funky dreams. She wakes up in a fit; now she is worried too.
  • They are driving westbound; it is 2:15 a.m.; they are almost home.
  • In the distance, the sky is bright red. It can’t be sunrise, because that is west. It turns out that Manderley is burning down.

 

THINGS TO MAKE YOU LOOK SMART

  • "Last night, I dreamt I was at Manderley again" is a really famous first line in literature.
  • All the characters are constantly being transformed. No one is the same person he was a minute ago.
  • Sometimes our imaginations can be our greatest enemy. Without realizing it, we can lose control of our thoughts and drive ourselves to the brink of insanity.
  • By experiencing crises and facing personal demons, we are able to better understand ourselves. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.
  • By not giving the Narrator a name, perhaps du Maurier intended the character to serve as an "Everywoman," to whom the readers could relate. In this way, each of us is able to learn from her experiences and, like her, become the stronger for it.
  • The deceased Rebecca is more of a living presence than the second Mrs. de Winter.