Are Mr. & Mrs. de Winter ever free of Rebecca in du Maurier's novel Rebecca?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One common conclusion pertaining to the later life of Maxim and the second Mrs. de Winter is that after all that occurred, Maxim has gone mad and Mrs. de Winter lovingly cares for him while they live a quiet restful life (ironically, this takes Mrs. de Winter right back to the same role as that which she had when she met Maxim, that of a companion and caregiver). If this is the conclusion drawn, then there are two ways to look at the answer to the question of whether they are ever free of Rebecca.

The first view is that no, they are never free of her. Rebecca has left an indelible and unretractable mark upon Maxim's mind and therefore on both their lives. Night and day, morning and noon, every waking moment, Maxim is bound up in a mental and emotional prison with bars made by Rebecca and Mrs. de Winter sees the scars of Rebecca's tyranny with every glance she casts at her husband.

The second view is that yes, they are free of Rebecca. Mrs. de Winter now holds the keys, metaphorically and literally, and decides the order of the day's activities, the types of meals and the place of dining; she decides what she and Maxim will do and when and where or where not to go. Mrs. de Winter is for the first time independent, in charge, and competent to the task at hand. In this way and in this sense, she has her Maxim all to herself--she is thus free of Rebecca, and Maxim is free of Rebecca in that there is no trace in the order or atmosphere of his existence that reeks of Rebecca. Take your pick.