My Cousin Rachel | Study Guide

Daphne du Maurier

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My Cousin Rachel | Chapter 20 | Summary



Rainaldi will stay at the house. He looks appraisingly at everything: "In one glance he priced the timber, reckoned the value of the trees and shrubs, and ... examine[d] the carving on the front door." Why did he come? Did Rachel know? He sold a painting from Rachel's villa and might rent out the villa, too. Philip is irritated by their inside jokes, referring to themselves as "we" and speaking Italian. After dinner, Rachel excuses them to go sign papers in her boudoir. Philip declines the invitation to join them later and instead walks around the grounds, glaring at the light in her window and imagining what they are doing and saying. Then, he watches for the light in Rainaldi's room. When Philip goes to his room, Rachel enters to wish him good night and scolds him, "You are very ridiculous ... You behaved at dinner like a sulky schoolboy in need of a whipping." Her response to his jealousy is to laugh and put her arms around him, saying, "I love you much too much."

Rainaldi stays longer than expected. Philip continues to dislike and distrust him, thinking Rainaldi intends to persuade Rachel to return to Italy. Rainaldi and Rachel reminisce, tease Philip about Louise and, he fears, talk about him in Italian when he leaves the room.

Nick and Louise come for dinner. The conversation turns to London. Rachel intends to go there soon and the others discuss meeting up there, except Philip with his "plot to fox them all." After the guests leave, Philip lies awake in bed listening for Rachel and Rainaldi to come upstairs. After midnight, he eavesdrops on their conversation, but it is all in Italian. When the voices fall silent, Philip imagines them embracing and kissing, but they are on the way to their rooms. Philip takes consolation in Rainaldi's departure the next morning.

As Rainaldi says goodbye, he says he will wait for Rachel in London. She replies she will not make plans before Philip's birthday, at which Rainaldi notes, "It must be odd to have a birthday on so singular a date. All Fools Day, is it not?"


Philip decided he hated Rainaldi back in Florence, and his antagonistic feelings become even stronger at this meeting. Rainaldi's disagreeable behavior of appraising everything for its market value and patronizing Philip could make him a downright nuisance, no worse than that, but other actions cause Philip to feel threatened on another level.

Rainaldi talks about Rachel possessively as "we"; they talk about their shared history and speak Italian, thus excluding Philip. Philip's imagination carries him away, picturing what they are saying or doing when he is not there, and he is reduced to creeping on the stairs and trying to eavesdrop. What Philip's thoughts and behavior demonstrate is how a relatively level-headed, sane man could become consumed with suspicion and paranoia as a result of Rachel and Rainaldi's interactions. It might even be a replay of Ambrose's experience.

Philip's suspicions are not completely unfounded: he thinks Rainaldi means to persuade Rachel to go to London, and he is right. Rainaldi tells Rachel he will wait for her in London. Ambrose had thought Rainaldi was in love with Rachel, and even though Philip has not let himself use those words, his jealousy is the same. Philip thinks he has the answer to keep Rachel in Cornwall, giving her all the property—"his plot to fox them all," but he fails to realize his plot does not get rid of Rainaldi and will "fox" only himself.

Philip's birthday on All Fools Day reinforces his foolishness, as Rainaldi notes and emphasizes. Philip has been acting like an unstable adolescent and making important decisions without thinking of the consequences. His decision to hand over his property to Rachel on All Fools Day underscores his short-sightedness and self defeat. Never once has it occurred to him that his outrageously extravagant gift will prevent her from marrying him. As much as Rachel senses Philip's needs, Philip knows little of Rachel's, for she will never give up such wealth in exchange for being mistress, rather than owner, of the Ashley estate.

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