How Effective Is the Character ‘Mrs. Danvers’ in Daphne Du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca’? Essays

Words: 1120
Pages: 5

Rebecca has been described as the first major gothic romance of the 20th century; Mrs. Danvers’ character is one of the few Gothic interests within the novel. Her unnatural appearance and multi-faceted relationship with Rebecca provides scope for manifold interpretations and critical views. Furthermore, Mrs. Danvers connection with Rebecca and Manderlay is a sub-plot in itself, making Mrs. Danvers the most subtly exciting character in the novel.

Mrs. Danvers bond with the late Mrs. De Winter is not just a typical servant/mistress relationship, nor even friendship; it is stronger and more passionate than mere companionship. In Chapter Fourteen when Mrs. Danvers finds the narrator looking in Rebecca’s room, she demonstrates adoration for
…show more content…
This ghoulish description is revisited and embellished upon on almost her every entry: “A black figure stood waiting for me… the hollow eyes watching me intently from the white skull’s face.” (Chapter 7) The use of sibilance only adds to her evil, “I shall never forget the expression on her face” (Chapter 14). The repetition of the description of her disturbing, haunting presence is a key facet of the novel’s uncanny gothic atmosphere.

Furthermore, Du Maurier’s reference to Mrs. Danvers being “a shadow”, lacking substance with a mere skeletal figure, implies the supernatural, evil and ghost-like: (Narrator) “I looked about me stunned and stupid like a haunted thing…It was Mrs. Danvers…The face of an exulting devil”. Mrs. Danvers has become the ghost of Rebecca, mistress of Manderlay, encapsulating and preserving Rebecca making it more and more difficult for the Narrator not to form both psychological and physical boundaries between herself and Manderlay: “Rebecca, always Rebecca. Wherever I walked in Manderlay…”

Mrs. Danvers’ journey is parallel with that of Rebecca and in turn Manderlay. For example, the Fancy Dress Ball; whilst Manderlay is in its prime, hosting a grand event, flooded with the awe-swept public enchanted by its beauty- “Manderlay had come alive”-, Mrs. Danvers succeeds in manipulating the Narrator in reviving the “Identical” physical appearance of