Madness is defined as the state of having a serious illness, but none of the characters in the film are directly associated with having any sort of mental affliction other than ‘Ben’ who witnesses many of the atrocities that concern Rebecca. This may be a catalyst to enhance notions of insanity and the obscure paranoia that the heroin encounters from her own preconceptions of Rebecca.
Each of the female characters undergo some form of ‘madness’ that ultimately leads them to their own destruction or contrastingly, freedom.
We learn that Rebecca was unruly and independent, not adhering to the ‘normal resolution’ that
Freud proposed, and had significant power for a woman. According to a Darwinian theory, if a woman transgressed their gender role they would be afflicted by hysteria and mental disturbance.
The way that Maxim describes her in the cottage scene actually enhances this theory by containing all of Rebecca’s masculine qualities that made her ‘mad’. However, Maxim and the new Mrs. de
Winter become equally afflicted by the madness of Rebecca’s haunting presence.
In the cottage scene, Hitchcock uses a panning movement with the camera to distort the nonexistent , yet supernatural presence of Rebecca to capture her motion throughout the cottage whist
Maxim recounts the circumstances of her death. Her phantom residence in Manderly is all the stronger through Mrs. Danvers’ persona.
Mrs Danvers represents a deeper and more sinister kind of maddness. She openly invites the heroin to commit suicide after humiliating her and psychologically degrading her throughout the film. She is used as a vessel for Rebecca’s evil and is comparatively a doppleganger figure for her (this is a common gothic convention). She has dedicated her life to looking after Rebecca and thus becomes obsessed with her. She projects her life as well as love onto this woman who is perceived as perfect,
‘breeding, brains and beauty’.
The music at the beginning of the scene where she shows the heroin