Describe the tea ritual that took place at Manderley in Rebecca. When was it served?

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Tea is part of the well-ordered routine at Manderley. It is served by Frith and a footman in "a stately little performance." It occurs at 4:30 in the afternoon. This is significant, because it is earlier than poorer people would have tea, indicating that a dinner will be served later. People not of the upper classes often had the meal called tea later in the day, merging it with dinner, as they could not afford both meals.

Tea is full of many delicacies, primarily baked goods that show off the wealth and abundance of Manderley life.

Although tea is an opportunity for the narrator, the second Mrs. de Winter, to be alone with Maxim, her sense of discomfort and uncertainty is expressed through the way she crumbles her crumpet and feels scalded as she swallows her too-hot tea. Tea is another ritual that threatens to overwhelm the narrator in a large and grand household that intimidates this young woman from poorer roots.

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The serving of afternoon tea is an important part of life at Manderley. This "solemn ritual" takes place at precisely half past four every single day, irrespective of whatever else is happening. The narrator, the unnamed second Mrs. de Winter, recounts in some detail, and with some relish, the sumptuous repasts she enjoyed during tea-time at Manderley. The serving of tea is accompanied by all manner of culinary delights in the shape of angel cake, gingerbread, sandwiches, tiny crisp wedges of toast, and golden crumpets positively dripping with butter. It's also accompanied by confessions of Maxim's innermost secrets. Yet the ritual still continues as if nothing has happened, as with all of Manderley's numerous other strange traditions. For as Mrs. de Winter herself observes,

No crisis can break through the crust of habit.

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