Could I have a Maxim de Winter character sketch from Rebecca?

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davmor1973 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Maxim is very much a hero in the Byronic mold. That is to say that he stands apart from human society, cold and unapproachable, dashingly handsome, but with something dark and brooding about him. That we only come to know him through the eyes of the second Mrs. De Winter merely accentuates his distance from us.

But as with Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre, we sense something else lurking beneath Maxim's harsh exterior. There's a war raging inside that tortured mind of his, between competing impulses of good and bad. At times he can be quite extraordinarily cruel and bad-tempered. At other times, he can be surprisingly thoughtful and kind, as when he travels to France with the second Mrs. De Winter, for example.

But whether married or not, Maxim is destined to remain a lonely figure. He stands apart from the rest of humanity, living in a world of his own. That world is Manderley; and Manderley is everything to Maxim. Like a true Gothic hero, his isolation and estrangement from the world follow a fall from grace. And that fall was related to his obsession with preserving Manderley and everything it represents. Outside of that self-contained world, Maxim cannot exist in the fullest sense of the word. To live among other people he must present a mask, a mask of a man aloof and in control. The real Maxim, however, is more complex, someone we can never completely know, even after the revelation of his deepest, darkest secrets.

kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Maxim De Winter is a well-respected member of the upper classes. He is initially perceived by the reader and the narrator to be a deeply tortured man, suffering after the death of his glittering socialite wife, Rebecca.

Maxim is proud, witty but yet sad. He endears himself to the narrator by treating her with the respect her employer cannot manage. Once married, he returns with her to the family home he shared with Rebecca. The narrator is unsure of how to behave. She is told by Maxim not to emulate Rebecca, yet she has no other role model on whom to base her new life as a lady.

Maxim is passionately anxious every time Rebecca is mentioned, and this is interpreted as grief. It is only after Rebecca’s boat is discovered that the true nature of his passion is revealed-

   ‘I hated her’

We discover that Maxim had been forced into a cruel bargain with Rebecca. She would continue her affairs with other men, but would remain as mistress of Manderley to preserve Max’s dignity and reputation. It is clearly an agreement that Maxim later regrets. We see the power Rebecca had over him, in forcing him to kill her rather than her die slowly of cancer. Maxim is ultimately a man wounded by pride who wishes to free himself from the bonds of his amoral first wife but who is tied to his way of life by history and tradition.

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Rebecca

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