Chapter 20 Summary
A long, shocked silence reigns in the library after de Winter’s startling confession until he begins to kiss his wife passionately and tell her loves her. She has dreamed of his saying these words to her, but she is stunned to hear them now. He stops, assuming her lack of response means the girl does not love him.
Finally the girl is able to speak and assures her husband that she does love him, but he does not believe her. Neither of them speaks as they ponder what will happen when the body in the sunken boat is identified as Rebecca. After he murdered Rebecca, de Winter thought he would go mad waiting for something to happen and pretending to grieve. He answered letters of sympathy and tried to act sane and normal in front of the servants; he did not send Danvers away, afraid she would guess the awful truth because of her closeness to Rebecca. He had to face everyone knowing that every word he spoke was a lie.
When de Winter tells his wife that she has always seemed so aloof to him, she explains that she had not expected him to love her because he still loved Rebecca. He is dumbfounded and tells the girl clearly that he hated Rebecca. Their marriage was a farce from the beginning; they never loved one another or shared a moment of happiness together: “Rebecca was incapable of love, of tenderness, of decency. She was not even normal.” Rebecca was clever, though, and everyone saw her as the kindest, most generous and gifted person they knew. She had a gift for making other people worship her.
A picture of the real Rebecca takes shape before the girl’s eyes as de Winter continues. Just a week after the wedding, Rebecca told de Winter all about herself, things he will never repeat. When he realized what he had married, de Winter considered killing her on their drive in the hills of Monte Carlo, the same drive he and the girl had made before their marriage. Instead, Rebecca bargained with her husband: she would be the model wife and run his home, and they would be the envy of everyone in the county as long as he let her pursue her own interests. She knew de Winter’s pride would keep him from admitting, just a week after they were married, the kind of person she was.
It was a poor trade. Though Manderley became the beautiful estate it is now because of Rebecca, everything about their lives was a lie. Rebecca often left to spend days in debauchery, but soon she brought her shameful friends and lifestyle to Manderley. When de Winter reminded her of their bargain and said she should keep her other life in London, Rebecca laughed and began to torture Crawley and other men on the estate; Crawley even begged to be allowed to leave Manderley. Even her brother-in-law, Lacy, was not exempt from her advances.
The girl begins to remember some of the things Ben said, and they begin to make sense to her now. Only one...
(The entire section is 799 words.)