Course Hero. "My Cousin Rachel Study Guide." Course Hero. 3 Aug. 2017. Web. 18 July 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/My-Cousin-Rachel/>.
Course Hero. (2017, August 3). My Cousin Rachel Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved July 18, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/My-Cousin-Rachel/
(Course Hero, 2017)
Course Hero. "My Cousin Rachel Study Guide." August 3, 2017. Accessed July 18, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/My-Cousin-Rachel/.
Course Hero, "My Cousin Rachel Study Guide," August 3, 2017, accessed July 18, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/My-Cousin-Rachel/.
They used to hang men at Four Turnings in the old days. Not any more, though.
The novel begins and ends with these lines, referring to public executions. Philip, in his narration, says executions are necessary only if the criminal's conscience does not kill him first. He sees himself in the hanged man he saw as a child. Then throughout the novel Philip speaks of the guilt expected to torment him his whole life. Finally, at the end his crime is revealed: he let Rachel die. He will not be hanged, though, partly because it seems to be an accident.
Just as Philip departs for Italy, he receives another letter from Ambrose saying to hurry or it will be too late. Ambrose perceives Rachel as a danger, ever watchful and menacing. Nick identifies this perception as a possible personality change brought on by a brain tumor, the cause of Ambrose's father's death and now likely Ambrose's. Philip sets out to get to the bottom of it all and bring Ambrose home, but when he is in fact too late, he focuses on the "Rachel my torment" part. Later, when he has the same experience as Ambrose, Philip echoes the line by referring to her as "Rachel my torment."
You were right to hate me. If he had not come ... he would not have died.
Philip and Rachel discuss Ambrose's last two letters, which cast suspicion on her. She correctly perceives the letters made Philip hate her. Perhaps too good to be true, she agrees with all he has been thinking: Ambrose would still be alive if he had never gone to Italy. Readers may sense a confession is coming, but her comment endears her to Philip instead, while avoiding definitive proof of guilt or innocence. The line is another of those that surprise Philip because Rachel agrees rather than challenges him.
Warmth and comfort ... something beautiful ... he can get all that from his own house.
Philip loves his house: he calls it a "living entity" and believes he does not need a woman because his house fulfills all his needs. Somewhat reclusive and misanthropic before he meets Rachel, Philip attempts to explain why he will never marry anyone, including Louise, or have children. As he changes, Rachel reminds him about this statement. Philip refers to it once more as he proposes by saying he knows now what he needs that his house cannot provide.
Philip tells Rachel all the bitterness is gone with Ambrose's death, and they will not relive the suspicion and torment no matter how much he looks like Ambrose. Yet at the same moment, a voice in his head tells him he can never go back. He has held Rachel in his arms and now he can never go back to not wanting that closeness, to being a bachelor. Also, his words and actions are setting in motion a series of events he cannot reverse.
Philip has just given Rachel the wedding pearls as a Christmas present. Her response is to kiss him in a romantic way. In the way the sentence is constructed, it could almost be read to mean this is what killed him. But, it could mean this is what kept him in Italy even when it was disagreeable. Either way, the statement shows Philip is hooked just as Ambrose was.
In his lost letter, Ambrose writes of his worry that Rachel may be unfaithful. He has long suspected Rainaldi of being in love with her, but is growing concerned she might return his feelings. He has proof Rainaldi gives her money, he writes. Philip disregards the letter upon first reading it, but when his relationship with Rachel goes downhill, a second reading seems to speak to him directly.
One thought possesses me, leaving me no peace. Are they trying to poison me?
Because Ambrose could not trust anyone to mail his letters for him, he theorized some would get lost at times. In this case, the lost letter slid into the lining of his jacket. Perhaps the loss added to his suspicion of the people around him when the letter disappeared, or perhaps he forgot it in the haze of his illness. At the time of writing, Ambrose is deeply suspicious of Rachel and Rainaldi and believes Rachel loves only whoever gives her money. Ambrose also finds he gets sick again when Rainaldi is around. When Philip first reads the letter, his love for Rachel causes him to bury it—literally and figuratively. Later, when he is having the same experience, he revisits the letter, which now seems a warning from beyond the grave.
Some women, Philip, good women, very possibly ... through no fault of their own impel disaster.
Nick shares this wisdom with his godson, Philip; he grudgingly approves Philip's document transferring the estate to Rachel. Nick is willing to consider the possibility Rachel is a good woman, and the disaster he predicts may not be her fault. Partly reassuring, partly ominous, Nick's words continue the pattern of keeping Rachel's guilt or innocence ambiguous. Philip recalls these words in Chapter 1 when he reflects on the past year's events.
I have had all this before ... even the hands around my neck.
Rachel says she does not want to repeat with Philip the dynamic she had with Ambrose. For the first time, she refers to Ambrose's violence as being directed toward her. Ambrose had tried to choke Rachel just as Philip has.
I felt ... a sort of nausea ... the tisana ... had a bitter unaccustomed tang.
The only one who knows what is in the tisana is Rachel, who made it. It is an unusual flavor for English tea drinkers, and not to everyone's liking. When Louise does not care for it, Rachel says, "The musty flavour does not suit all persons." But, Philip has been drinking it all along without complaint until the last dinner with Rainaldi when it tastes strange and he feels ill. His symptoms return as Ambrose's did when Rainaldi visited.
In Rachel's drawer, Philip discovers an envelope containing the poisonous pods and seeds of the laburnum tree. He thinks back to a tree in the villa courtyard, where Ambrose would have been poisoned. The same kind of tree is on his own property, where his own bouts of illness mimic Ambrose's. This line harkens back to Philip's conversation with Tamlyn who mentioned the seeds poisoning cattle, and even a man.
What a woman has once done ... she can do twice. And rid herself of ... another burden.
Philip has decided he and Rachel are in fact recreating the events leading to Ambrose's death. Since no one caught on to her poisoning Ambrose, she can do it again to him, having been undetected. Now she finally has the Ashley fortune, Philip thinks he is expendable and perhaps a nuisance.
Can we have misjudged her ... About the poison? ... There is not any proof.
Louise, leader of the anti-Rachel camp, develops misgivings when she and Philip find no proof of guilt. She feels regret for snooping in Rachel's room. As the daughter of an attorney, she is aware of legal matters and how an accusation would play out in court if Rachel is actually innocent. Philip would then be guilty of slander, as Nick has warned previously. Louise's advice is to do nothing—without proof, they have no case. Even though Rachel is Louise's rival for Philip's affection, she assesses the situation fairly and dispassionately.
Philip's statement reveals his foreknowledge of some danger threatening Rachel. When he realizes his case against Rachel is not ironclad after all, he tries to save her by calling for help. Louise's reaction—"What have you done?"—shows she immediately comprehends Philip's murderous intent in whatever "accident" has befallen Rachel. Her "apprehension" and "conviction" show Louise will never trust Philip, who will be alone with his guilt for life.