Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Maximilian (Maxim) de Winter

Maximilian (Maxim) de Winter, middle-aged owner of Manderley. He is detached, moody, mysterious, at times gracious, friendly, and apologetic for his seeming rudeness, only to return unaccountably to his reserve. This reserve is finally removed with the lifting of the burden on his conscience.

Mrs. de Winter

Mrs. de Winter, Maxim’s young wife, the narrator. A shy, sensitive orphan, she first meets Maxim through her older traveling companion, Mrs. Van Hopper. Deeply in love with him, she happily accepts his proposal and marries him. Puzzled and troubled by Maxim’s strange shifts of mood and his abstracted manner and by Mrs. Danvers’ obvious dislike of her, she thinks herself unwelcome, an inferior successor to Rebecca at Manderley. Desiring Maxim’s love, she yet remains aloof because of her brooding insecurity and thus hinders his revealing his painful memories to her.

Rebecca de Winter

Rebecca de Winter, Maxim’s dead wife, a very beautiful woman who charmed many people but who tortured her husband with flagrant infidelities. When she learned that she would soon die of cancer, she taunted her husband with a false story of her unborn child by another man until she drove him to murder her.

Mrs. Danvers

Mrs. Danvers, the housekeeper at Manderley. Tall, gaunt, with a face like a death’s head, she is cold, formal, and resentful of the new Mrs. de Winter, who has replaced the Rebecca she adored. She is the first to reveal to Mrs. de Winter what Rebecca really was like with men. After the closing of the inquiry into Rebecca’s death, Mrs. Danvers apparently sets fire to Manderley and disappears.

Frank Crawley

Frank Crawley, estate manager at Manderley. A thin, colorless bachelor, he is a devoted friend of Maxim.

Jack Favell

Jack Favell, Rebecca’s cousin, tanned and good looking, but flashy, with hot, blue eyes and a loose mouth. He is a heavy drinker who attempts to blackmail Maxim after the discovery of Rebecca’s sunken boat.

Colonel Julyan

Colonel Julyan, a magistrate who suspects the truth about Rebecca’s death but keeps it to himself.

Mrs. Van Hopper

Mrs. Van Hopper, an overbearing American social climber who forces herself upon Maxim at Monte Carlo.

Beatrice Lacy

Beatrice Lacy, Maxim’s sister, tall, broad-shouldered, handsome, tweedy, inquisitive, blunt, and chatty.

Major Giles Lacy

Major Giles Lacy, Beatrice’s fat and genial husband.

Dr. Baker

Dr. Baker, a London physician visited by Rebecca (under Mrs. Danvers’ name) the day of her death. He reports that she was dying of cancer, though she appeared in good health.


Frith, Maxim’s elderly butler.


Clarice, Mrs. de Winter’s young maid.


Ben, a simple-minded old man.

Themes and Characters

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

In Rebecca, du Maurier explores the relationship between past and present. For Maxim and his second wife, the past and the present are...

(The entire section is 397 words.)


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Rebecca, the title character, is dead before the novel opens but her presence pervades the entire work. She is responsible for Maxim's...

(The entire section is 158 words.)