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Essay/Term paper: Rebecca by daphne du maurier

Essay, term paper, research paper:  English Literature Essays

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Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

Texts show us how experience often changes people. 'Rebecca', a novel
written by Daphne Du Maurier illustrates this point. Throughout the engrossing
story, the characters experience much and as a result, the characters undergo
both temporary and life-altering changes to their thoughts, beliefs and

In the beginning of the novel, the narrator is the insecure, shy and
inexperienced paid companion of Mrs. Van Hopper. However, when she marries Maxim
De Winter her life totally changes. She enters a new and unknown world as she
becomes part of the elite class of society. She also has to cope with the many
responsibilities and expectations imposed on her as the wife of the famous Maxim
De Winter. This experience changes her into a worldly, more confident woman, but
however this is a gradual development. For example, early in the novel, the
narrator has unrealistic romantic fantasies of her and Maxim. However, after
Maxim's blasé marriage proposal the reality of the situation begins to dawn on
her :

'And he went on eating his marmalade as though everything were natural. In
books men knelt to women, and it was moonlight. Not at breakfast, not like

Here Mrs. De Winter changes with this experience. Her ideas of love
which are based on works of fiction, are quashed when her romantic expectations
remain unfulfilled. Although her unblemished perception of love begins to
crumble in this instance, later it is rebuilt by the love that she and Maxim

On the other hand, Maxim's experience with the narrator is somewhat
different. In the beginning of the novel, he seeks no romantic involvement but
seeks companionship. The experience of close communication with another human
being, after his self-imposed isolation after Rebecca's death, changes Maxim.
When Maxim takes the narrator for a drive in his car, he tells her of Manderley,
the sun setting and the nearby sea. At this moment, Manderley is the most
precious thing to him in the entire world, and he chooses to share this with the
narrator. This time spent with the Mrs. De Winter changes him. He realises that
he needed companionship and perhaps unconditional love, both of which could be
attained by marrying the narrator.

In 'Rebecca', these two characters share a major life-altering experience.
Maxim confesses to Mrs. De Winter that he had murdered Rebecca, and that Rebecca
had not died accidentally in a boating accident as she was led to believe. She
learns that Maxim did not idolise Rebecca but despised her. These facts
initially send Mrs. De Winter into shock, but afterwards she feels relieved.
This wave of relief overrides the fact that

Maxim is a murderer. She now feels free of Rebecca's legacy; Maxim loves her and
no-one else. After his confession, Mrs. De Winter says : 'It would not be I, I,
I any longer; it would be we, it would be us.' The change in thought and
behaviour because of this experience has been great.

Maxim's reaction to his own confession differs slightly from his wife's.
After he tells the narrator his darkest secret, he begins to express his
feelings and overall he communicates more intimately with his wife. With his
biggest vulnerability now exposed, Maxim now feels free to love her. After
telling Mrs. De Winter that he is a murderer, Maxim's change in behaviour is
definitely noticeable :

'I love you so much,' he whispered. 'So much.'
This is what I have wanted him to say every day and every night ... now
he is saying it at last.'

Here Maxim has changed for the better. His dark and brooding nature is
now balanced by the love which he has for his wife.

The novel 'Rebecca' shows us how experience often changes people. The
reader follows the narrator's evolvement from an insecure, shy girl to one who
is confident, strong and loving. The author also shows Maxim's internal struggle
against 'darkness' and his overcoming of it through finding love. By the end of
the novel, Maxim is a caring and loving person, a contrast to the moody,
brooding character portrayed in the first half of the novel. These developments
have only occurred because of the harsh experiences that both characters have
encountered. Now they appear to be stronger people for it.

In conclusion, texts do show us that experience often changes people.
This is so because literature reflects reality. Conditioning is inescapable as
our experiences mould us into the people that we are today.

(725 words)


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