“If only there could be an invention that bottled up a memory, like scent. And it never faded, and it never got stale. And then, when one wanted it, the bottle could be uncorked, and it would be like living the moment all over again.”
Rebecca is far from the book it was marketed out to be. Daphne du Maurier tells the tale of two women – one dead and one alive. Who is who, for that matter, is unclear. The novel is bursting with stuttering symbolism; a hymn to one’s ego.
On the surface it pulls off as a thrilling mystery with a dash of romance but to call it that would be so offensive. I found Rebecca to be something like a dissection of identity.
The narrator is a nameless woman who, from the story, we understand to be in her early twenties. She is Lady of Manderley, wife to Maxim de Winter, a skilled painter, and a prisoner of Rebecca’s haunting. She is at dissonance with the person she is in comparison to Rebecca. Our narrator has remained nameless for a reason, I think, because in the end she is back where she started. I’m sure a few readers would swoon at the way she protected Maxim and love him through all his faults but I couldn’t. I don’t think she did it out of love, in her own mind, it was probably her way of getting back at Rebecca, In this sense our narrator is a bit of the anti-heroine.
We come to know of Rebecca through our narrator, in fact, we experience her presence through Mrs. de Winter’s obsession. I found these characters to be the polarizing extremes of feminine nature – wild, authoritative Rebecca and shy, passive Mrs. de Winter. Even dead Rebecca dominates every character in the book.
So, I’ve heard the book has been compared to Jane Eyre for its gothic atmosphere and the trope of “mad wife” but for me, somehow, Rebecca strayed far off the road. Her book is sensual and wrong in many ways, it stays with you after the last page.
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