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Rebecca | Quotes

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1.

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.


Narrator, Chapter 1

This quotation is the opening sentence of Rebecca and is one of its most often-quoted lines. It immediately establishes a sense of mystery and suspense. What is Manderley and why does it haunt the narrator's dreams? The fact that the story begins and ends with dreams reinforces the theme that the past cannot be escaped; it will find a way to haunt a guilty person, if only in dreams.

2.

They say he never talks about it, never mentions her name. She was drowned you know, in a bay near Manderley.


Mrs. Van Hopper, Chapter 4

In this quotation, the narrator recalls with disdain the gossiping of her employer, Mrs. Van Hopper, who is describing the popular impression of the recently bereft Maxim. The quote conveys the common assumption that the recent widower has been devastated by loss while subtly hinting at something darker beneath his emotions.

3.

I wish I was a woman of about thirty-six dressed in black satin with a string of pearls.


Narrator, Chapter 5

This quotation encapsulates the narrator's identity crisis—she wishes she were someone else, a member of a higher social class.

4.

"Of course," she said, "you know why he is marrying you, don't you? You haven't flattered yourself he's in love with you?"


Mrs. Van Hopper, Chapter 6

This quotation typifies the way the narrator is treated—or imagines being treated—by many people in the novel. This sort of mean-spirited sniping helps explain why the narrator has so many doubts about her worthiness and place in the life of Maxim. It also speaks to the identity theme. As an orphan of questionable social standing, the narrator tolerates belittling comments instead of calling attention to them.

5.

"I'm afraid you have made a mistake," I said. "Mrs. de Winter has been dead for over a year."


Narrator, Chapter 8

The narrator says this over the house telephone to Mrs. Danvers. It illustrates the narrator's deep insecurity in her role as the new Mrs. de Winter, and her struggle to establish a comfortable relationship with Mrs. Danvers.

6.

I would always know when she had been before me in a room. There would be a little whiff of her scent in the room.


Mrs. Danvers, Chapter 14

Here Mrs. Danvers guides the narrator around the room of Rebecca, which has been kept essentially untouched since her death. The quotation reflects the obsession of the housekeeper with her dead mistress, the deep devotion to her memory, and the intoxicating effect of her presence on all the inhabitants of Manderley.

7.

I wondered why ... the thought of the servants talking about it in the kitchen should cause me such distress. It must be that I had a small mean mind, a conventional, petty hatred of gossip.


Narrator, Chapter 18

This quotation reflects the narrator's distress the morning after the ill-fated ball, and it reveals her characteristic concern with and sensitivity to real and imagined slights. She chafes especially under the judgments of servants; she both identifies with and looks down on them. She is a person without a secure position.

8.

It doesn't make for sanity, does it, living with the devil?


Maxim, Chapter 20

Maxim's wry observation shows his true feelings about Rebecca and suggests why he was driven to kill her. However, evil—evoked by mention of the devil—is ambiguous in Rebecca. Though she was promiscuous, Maxim agreed to the terms of their marriage. Readers may argue that Maxim's murder of Rebecca is more in line with devilish behavior.

9.

I'm afraid it does not concern me very much what Mrs. de Winter used to do ... I am Mrs. de Winter now.


Narrator, Chapter 21

The narrator speaks this line after Maxim asserts that his marriage to Rebecca had been a sham. Addressed to her former tormenter, Mrs. Danvers, the comment shows, on the surface, the narrator asserting her newfound self-assurance. However, the assertion is undercut by the lack of her own name and individual identity.

10.

And the ashes blew toward us with the salt wind from the sea.


Narrator, Chapter 27

The sea wind carries the ashes of the burning Manderley to the narrator and her husband. While Manderley itself is a symbol of buried secrets, the ashes suggest that the secrets will not stay buried. Just as the story opens with the present-day narrator's dream of the ruined house, this last sentence suggests that there is no way the guilty couple can escape from the past.

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