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What are the relationships of some characters in Rebecca, with textual evidence, by Du...

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fatimasandoval96 | Student, Grade 9 | eNoter

Posted April 30, 2012 at 12:17 AM via web

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What are the relationships of some characters in Rebecca, with textual evidence, by Du Maurier? This is so I can make a sociogram based on Rebecca.

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted April 30, 2012 at 2:35 AM (Answer #1)

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The first relationship we discover is that between the narrator and Mrs. Van Hooper. This leads to the central relationship between the narrator and Maxim de Winter. This relationship then leads to the narrator becoming Mrs. de Winter and the introduction of the two antagonist characters, Mrs. Danvers and ... Rebecca ....

The relationship between the narrator and Mrs.Van Hooper is a mixed one of a weak and dependent person relying on and manipulating an inexperienced and gentle one. In this employer-employee relationship, Mrs. Van Hooper exploits the heroine thus revealing her psychological frailty while demonstrating her moral goodness and simplicity of nature. This is an important revelation that makes realistic Maxim's immediate attachment to her and that provides underpinning for the terror that awaits her as Mrs. de Winter.

The second and most important relationship is between the heroine and Maxim. Though he comments to her about her name, she is never addressed or referred to by that name. Only after she becomes Mrs. de Winter is she named at all:

"You have a very lovely and unusual name." (Maxim)
"My father was a lovely and unusual person." (narrator)

Their relationship is very hard to identify at first. Of course they are man and wife and very happy as a couple on their honeymoon. It is when they get to Manderley that unnamed shadows and ghosts cast a pall over their exchanges and that Mrs. de Winter's youth and inexperience and "gaucherie" cause problems as a consequence of keeping her thoughts and fears from Maxim; she is entirely overpowered by Mrs. Danvers. After the fulfilment of the tragedy that befalls, she and Maxim become all to each other.     

[Early on] He wanted to show me Manderley. . . And suddenly I realised that it would all happen, I would be his wife, we would walk in the garden together, we would stroll down that path in the valley to the shingle beach.

[After Manderley] [C]onfidence is a quality I prize, although it has come to me a little late ... I suppose it is his dependence on me that has made me bold at last ... I have lost my diffidence, my timidity ...  [I am] different from ... who drove to Manderley for the first time, ....

Once at Manderley, Mrs. de Winter encounters the two antagonists, Mrs. Danvers and Rebecca. Rebecca remains literally and figuratively a ghost, as it proves impossible for Mrs. de Winter to understand or to realize her relationship to the dead and gone Rebecca, until the final tragedy unfolds. Mrs. Danvers makes their relationship of cruel manipulation and jealousy clear from the beginning.

She came towards me, and I held out my hand, envying her for her dignity and her composure; but when she took my hand hers was limp and heavy, deathly cold, and it lay in mine like a lifeless thing. ... her hollow eyes never leaving my eyes ....

It is these antagonistic relationships that add the psychological elements by which Mrs. de Winter is forced to shed her schoolgirl past and by which Max is forced to face the truth of his tortured past.

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