My Cousin Rachel | Study Guide

Daphne du Maurier

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My Cousin Rachel | Chapter 22 | Summary

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Summary

Philip picks camellias and showers them over Rachel. She tells him to go before the servants see him in her room. He says, "I love you" and leaves. His document had been on her breakfast tray.

Rachel is out all day, much to Philip's disappointment, his picnic plans thwarted. When Rachel returns, she says she has been to see Nick about the document because "the wording was a little obscure ... I wished to make certain what it meant." Now all is understood, though Philip longs for some hint of warmth from the night before. Rachel teases him about Louise as a possible wife; Philip thinks it is an unkind joke at Louise's expense and is surprised to hear Rachel is still planning to go to London.

They go for a walk and pick flowers. Rachel mentions Louise again. When they sit under a tree, Philip kisses Rachel and starts to enjoy his birthday again. She gives him his birthday present, a pearl cravat pin, and asks to go home. Their path takes them past the granite stone, Ambrose's "headstone." It casts a dark cloud over Philip's birthday, Rachel likely remembering Ambrose's death and burial far from his beloved home. Philip recalls Ambrose's words in the letter buried beneath the stone saying the one way to Rachel's heart is money. The words haunt him later as he prepares for dinner and, when Rachel appears wearing the pearl collar he thinks, "Tonight, if only for tonight, I had rather that her neck had been left bare."

Hoping to recapture his joy of the early morning, Philip tries to make his birthday dinner more festive by drinking too much wine. He intends to ask Rachel if the wedding can be as soon as possible. Nick and Louise arrive for a quick visit, and Philip announces the engagement. Rachel denies it, saying the excitement and wine are speaking for him. After the Kendalls leave, Philip follows her upstairs. He soon realizes their interpretations of conversations from the night before do not match; what he "believed to be a pledge of love was something different, without meaning."

So, he asks plainly, "When will you marry me?" and she says never. After Philip asks if she loves him, she answers, "I wanted to thank you, that was all. You had given me the jewels." He suddenly sees her through Ambrose's eyes and realizes he has given all he has; nothing is left to persuade her to stay. Philip suddenly puts his hands around Rachel's throat, saying, "Never leave me ... swear it, never, never." When he loosens his grip, she backs away, and they retreat to their own rooms. Philip sees Ambrose in the mirror for a moment. His birthday is over.

Analysis

Philip continues to behave like an adolescent, making a huge fuss about his birthday, not wanting to work, having his wishes granted, giving away his fortune, and expecting deference and compliance from others. If he has resented Rainaldi's condescension, Philip's behavior might be even more unnerving to others, expecting them to behave according to his wishes. But, because the narrator is Philip, readers see only what he sees. At the end of All Fools Day, Philip has presented himself as the biggest fool of all, with his extreme behavior and expectations.

How confused Philip must be: he believes Rachel is going to marry him, yet she continues to tease him about Louise as a love interest. He recalls Ambrose's comment about money being the one way to her heart; now she has the money, but does he have her heart? Add drunkenness to his confusion, and the situation goes downhill. Rachel says they are not engaged. Did they miscommunicate, or did she change her mind when the fortune became hers without marrying him? If she marries him now, she loses everything.

Had Philip, still behaving like a spoiled, impetuous adolescent even at 25, taken Nick's advice and made the marriage and the fortune part of the same package, he probably would not be in the position he is now. But lacking his own judgment and refusing to listen to someone who disagrees with his rash action, perhaps Philip thought love would prevail, as it does for him. However, Rachel does not answer directly when asked if she loves him but makes no evasion when asked when she will marry him: "Never, Philip ... Take that as final, and forever." Philip has given her everything he has as a way of making her stay, and now he realizes one does not guarantee the other. On the contrary, he has lost twice instead of losing and gaining. He no longer has the home he loves or the woman he loves. "Nothing remained. Unless it should be fear." His last gambit for control is the threat of violence. Rachel will never love him or even pretend to love him, if that is her game.

The strangling is the first indication Philip wants to kill Rachel, foreshadowing Rachel's future. However, Philip's act of strangling Rachel would be a crime of passion in contrast to her eventual demise. Somehow Philip backs off and returns to wanting only to love her.

Philip has seen Rachel through Ambrose's eyes and then sees himself as Ambrose in the mirror. As their identities merge once again, Philip relives Ambrose's experience in Florence.

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