In Rebecca, the novel of Daphne du Maurier, what is the comparison of Maxim's relationships with his first and second wives ?

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jilllessa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are many differences between the Maxim's relationship with Rebecca and his relationship with his second wife, the story's narrator.  The main similarity was that secrets were kept in each marriage.  In the first marriage the secrets were Rebecca's and in the second marriage the secrets were Maxim's.  The major difference between the two marriages is that while Rebecca was an evil and unfaithful woman who cared little if at all for Maxim, his second wife was a good and somewhat naive woman who loved and wanted to please her husband.  The irony was that the second wife spends most of the novel assuming that she was second best and that her husband was still mourning his beautiful first wife.  Furthermore in the first marriage it seems that Rebecca was definitely the stronger of the two personalities.  In the second marriage it initially seems that Maxim is the stronger personality but as Maxim's secret comes to light as well as his love for his second wife, her character becomes stronger.  Unfortunately for Maxim, the damage caused by his first wife did not end with her death and ended up costing him his lovely home leaving him and his second wife as virtual exiles.

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