Chapter 18 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 761

The young Mrs. de Winter is “blurred and stupid from her short, heavy sleep,” so it takes her a while to realize that her husband did not come to bed last night. She put on her blue dress and attended the ball not for noble reasons but to keep her...

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The young Mrs. de Winter is “blurred and stupid from her short, heavy sleep,” so it takes her a while to realize that her husband did not come to bed last night. She put on her blue dress and attended the ball not for noble reasons but to keep her guests from thinking the de Winters had quarreled. She could bear anything as long as the outside world does not know about it. Now she realizes her marriage is a failure and the kind of love she has for de Winter is not the kind of love he needs. He is still in love with Rebecca, and “Rebecca is still the mistress of Manderley.”

The girl sees a note under her door. It is from Beatrice, apologizing for leaving without saying goodbye. Though de Winter had an early breakfast, no one has seen him since. Beatrice asks the girl to give him her love and thanks her for a fine evening. The time on the note was two hours ago, and the girl finally gets dressed and goes downstairs.

The party took such a long time to prepare, but the cleanup was swift. She tries to find her husband, but no one knows where he has gone. She tells Crawley over the telephone that she must find her husband so she can explain that she had not chosen her dress as some “beastly, damnable joke.” Unable to hold back, the girl finally explains her belief that de Winter is still in love with Rebecca and she should not have married him. Crawley gives a startled cry at this revelation and says he must come see her; however, the girl slams the receiver down and cannot bear to see him. Now she is certain she will never see de Winter again.

As she walks the grounds in her grief, she sees Danvers watching her from a window above her and knows the housekeeper heard her cries and saw her tears: they are Danvers’ and Rebecca’s triumph. The girl walks to Rebecca’s room where she knows she will find Danvers; when the housekeeper turns to face her she sees that the older woman’s eyes are red and swollen from crying, much like her own. It is an unexpected sight, but the girl still asks what she came there to ask: is Danvers happy with herself for arranging this awful thing to happen?

Danvers says she thought she hated the girl for trying to take Rebecca’s place, but her hatred has spent itself. The girl is no longer afraid of the housekeeper and accuses the woman of deliberately trying to hurt de Winter; however, Danvers cares nothing about his suffering because he has never cared about her suffering. Danvers cared for Rebecca when she was a child, a child who never stood silently when she was wronged. She and her cousin Jack Favell often fought “like a couple of wild cats” and neither was amenable to authority.

The girl looks at the woman with fascination and horror as she continues her narrative of a young girl who always “did what she liked.” Rebecca “cared for nothing and no one.” Only the sea ever defeated her. Suddenly Danvers stops speaking and begins to cry noisily and harshly.

Danvers tells the girl that after Rebecca died, de Winter used to lock himself in his room and pace like a caged animal. The girl tells Danvers she should go to her room, but the woman mocks her and accuses her of tattling to de Winter about Favell’s visit to Manderley. The girl denies it, but Danvers accuses de Winter of being jealous again. All the men at Manderley had been jealous of Rebecca, and even though she is dead, Rebecca is still the mistress of Manderley, according to Danvers.

Danvers tells the girl to leave, for no one on the estate wants her here. As she speaks, the housekeeper pushes the girl toward the open window. She whispers to the girl that jumping is just like drowning—and the girl should jump.

Outside the window, the fog distorts what lies below and the girl actually considers jumping, certain that de Winter does not love her but wants to be with Rebecca again. Danvers whispers for her to jump and the girl relaxes and sighs, ready to do it, when a sudden series of explosions startles the women. Danvers says that a ship must have run ashore in the fog, and they suddenly hear the sound of footsteps on the terrace below them. 

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