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Rebecca: By Daphne Du Maurier Essay

1827 words - 8 pages

Throughout the novel, Rebecca, author Daphne du Maurier often reminds the reader of the constant battle of flesh versus spirit. This battle takes place between Rebecca, who takes the role of the spirit, in a sense that she died, but was never forgotten and always remembered as a perfect being who everyone loved. The flesh would be the role of Mrs. De Winter who married Rebecca's husband Maxim De Winter. Mrs. De Winter is compared in several ways to Rebecca because she is a shy woman who feels easily intimidated by what everyone else thinks of her and Rebecca. Being nothing but a memory, Rebecca has a strong impact on Mrs. De Winter's self esteem, and how she feels about Maxim and their ...view middle of the document...

And it seems very strange that as Maxim de Winter brings his new wife back to Manderly, Rebecca's death resurfaces after 2 years. Throughout Mrs. De Winter's struggles, Mrs. Danvers is right there making her feel even less of a person and even more like a stranger, Mrs. De Winter is very curious about Rebecca and why she had such an impact on the Manderly Estate. Mrs. Danvers uses this to her advantage and intimidates Mrs. De Winter, "This was her bed. It's a beautiful bed isn't it? I keep the golden coverlet on it always, it was her favorite. Here is her night dress inside the case. You've been touching it, haven't you? This is was the nightdress she was wearing for the last time, before she died. Would you like to touch it again?" (du Maurier[2], 171). It is made very clear that Mrs. Danvers did not care for Mrs. De Winter. There is one particular event in the novel that stands out as a spiteful act and although backfired was still very hurtful. "On the evening of the ball the narrators (Mrs. De Winter's) maid helps her to dress and transform into Caroline De Winter, (Maxim's aristocratic ancestor) she looks absolutely beautiful as she steps out of her bedroom and down the stairs to where Maxim, Beatrice, Giles (Maxim's sister and husband) and Frank Danvers are waiting. But as she steps forward a look of horror crosses all their faces and Maxim starts shouting at her. The narrator tries to explain that she has copied the painting, but by now Maxim is shaking with rage and tells her to go and get changed. The narrator turns and runs back to her room, the tears filling her eyes and as she runs she sees Mrs. Danvers standing in the shadows with a look of triumph on her evil face" (Willmore, 3). The reason that Maxim is so angered is because that is the costume Rebecca wore to her very last ball, and Mrs. Danvers does it out of spite because she knows Maxim will be upset. Along with attempts to make Mrs. De Winter feel out of place and jealous of the woman whom she replaced, she also feels as though there is a constant competition among herself and Rebecca. Part of Mrs. De Winter's sense of inferiority comes from the fact that she is competing with the memory of a dead woman. Her only knowledge of what Rebecca is like comes from the descriptions of people who adored Rebecca so greatly. There are many practical reasons why Mrs. De Winter feels she cannot compete with Rebecca, "as she only hears great things about her beauty and social grace" (Rebecca[2], 263). Living at Manderly is difficult for Mrs. De Winter mainly because there are reminders of Rebecca everywhere. "She lives in a house where she is constantly compared to the beautiful, skilled, artistic, intelligent, and sociable Rebecca, whose faults seem all to have been forgotten in death. The 2nd Mrs. De Winter is shy, pretty, clumsy, and painfully naive in her behavior. She is not the picture perfect heroine, and she seems always to be measured against absolute...

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