Chapter 12 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 642

Mrs. Danvers keeps to herself most of the time. The young girl’s new maid is Clarice, the daughter of someone on the estate. Clarice has never been a maid before, so her expectations are low; she is the only person in the house who is on awe of the new...

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Mrs. Danvers keeps to herself most of the time. The young girl’s new maid is Clarice, the daughter of someone on the estate. Clarice has never been a maid before, so her expectations are low; she is the only person in the house who is on awe of the new mistress. It is easier for the new Mrs. de Winter now, knowing the cause of Danvers’ resentment and dislike: the housekeeper had adored Rebecca.

Beatrice told her sister-in-law this fact over lunch one day, and from that moment everything begins to make sense to the girl. Everything the new Mrs. de Winter does is a painful reminder to Danvers of her beloved Rebecca. Even the smallest things must be painful to the older woman. Every small change the young girl wants to make, such as moving a flower vase to a different table, is dismissed because it is not what Rebecca did or preferred.

Beatrice gives her sister-in-law art books for a wedding gift, knowing the girl is fond of painting. After the girl puts the heavy volumes on the desk in the morning room, one of them topples over and upsets a small cupid figurine which had adorned the desk. She carefully sweeps up the fragments and places them in an envelope which she places in the back of one of the desk drawers.

The next day Firth asks to speak to her, explaining that there has been a row between Danvers and the footman, Robert. Robert is distraught because Danvers accused him of stealing, or braking and hiding, a “valuable ornament” from the morning room. The footman has vehemently denied the charge, claiming he did nothing to the cupid figurine which had been on the desk. Frustrated at having to deal with such a trivial matter, de Winter concedes that the matter must be settled since the figurine was valuable.

After Firth leaves the room, the girl explains to her husband that she was the one who accidentally broke the cupid; she did not say so before because she is afraid of Firth and Danvers, a notion de Winter thinks is silly. He explains the truth to the servants, and Danvers does not seem surprised that the girl is responsible. If such a thing happens again, the young girl is to speak to one of the servants immediately. There has never been a breakage in the morning room until now, Danvers says condescendingly, and this was a particularly valuable item. The housekeeper finally ceases her scolding, and de Winter tells his wife all is well, though he is still amazed at how fearful she is of Danvers.

His wife tries to explain that she hates people “looking her up and down as though she were a prize cow,” but de Winter does not understand why she cares at all what others think. When she tells de Winter she is certain he married her because she is dull, quiet and inexperienced and knows there will never be any gossip about her, he grows angry and asks who has been talking to her. He wonders aloud if it was fair of him to marry her and if she is happy here, as she seems to have lost her color and gotten thinner since they arrived at Manderley. The girl tells him he has been a good husband to her and assures him they are happy, but de Winter says nothing in response. Finally he says that he must take her word for it that they are happy.

All the valuable items in the house had been placed in the morning room by Rebecca, and he thinks the cupid figurine was probably a wedding gift. Rebecca knew about china. The girl worries in her heart about all of this; de Winter does not appear to be thinking much about anything at all. 

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