What are some examples of suspense in DuMaurier's Rebecca?

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lynnebh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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In these chapters, the heroine (the new Mrs. DeWinter) has trouble establishing herself as the mistress of Manderley but in the process of trying to assert herself, she discovers some things that foreshadow the evil to come and add to the suspense of the story. For example, the heroine runs into the retarded man, Ben, again and he makes some strange comments about Rebecca - that she threatened to send him to an asylum, that he found her to be dark, evil and "like a snake" (a symbol of evil). This scares the new Mrs. DeWinter (she is scared by almost everything, it seems!).

Later, Mrs. DeWinter goes into a wing of Manderley where she has not been before. She sees Rebecca's old room and finds that Mrs. Danvers has kept the room as a kind of shrine to Rebecca. It is exactly the way Rebecca left it the night she died. Mrs. Danvers actions are that of an obsessed woman, and this  also adds to the suspense because the reader realizes Mrs. Danver's evil nature, but Mrs. DeWinter does not - she is just frightened by all of the talk of ghosts and hauntings, and flees.

Jack Flavell is also introduced in these chapters and it is learned that he is Rebecca's cousin. Mrs. DeWinter drives with Maxim's sister to visit Maxim and Beatrice's grandmother, who is old and senile, and the grandmother keeps asking about Rebecca. This adds to the suspense and also upsets Mrs. DeWinter. Finally, the episode involving the costume ball adds to the suspense and terror surrounding Rebecca. The heroine unwisely follows Mrs. Danver's advice to dress up in a costume like the one in a painting hanging in Manderley. The reader, knowing by now the evil of Mrs. Danvers, keeps hoping that Mrs. DeWinter will figure things out, but she does not, and goes ahead with the costume, naively hoping Maxim will be pleased. When he sees his wife in the dress the night of the costume ball, however, he is shocked and insists she change. She later finds out that this dress was the one that Rebecca wore at the last costume ball before she died.

All of this adds to the gothic atmosphere of the novel - and Rebecca's ghost lives on, larger than life and still haunting her tortured husband and his new wife. Until the end of the novel, Maxim's new wife mistakenly believes her husband is haunted by love of Rebecca but she finds out, finally, that he has been haunted by fear of Rebecca.

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