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16 November 2007

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Chapters 7-9
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YES. The moment when she answers the phone, "Mrs DeWinter is dead," is when I really start feeling for her. She still drives me a little nuts, but she is just so out of her depth.

I think it's hard to sympathise with her deep feeling of inferiority when it's rooted in social class. But just think of the way that Peter Wimsey treats his social inferiors; if you were sensitive I think that kind of awareness would be brutal.

Elizabeth

I find your theory that Max is bipolar very interesting. My working theory is that he's a dick. But, seriously, it seems like he's already bored of her. It seems like he doesn't care about her at all (or at least not enough to inconvenience himself. Although, come to think of it, he's never inconvenienced himself for her. Not to propose. Not for the wedding--she hinted she'd like a big wedding. Not even to clothe her appropriately.) And, at this point, it seems like he might have married her and brought her back to Manderley just to annoy Mrs. Danvers. I think you nailed it when you wrote there are other ways of controlling people without bullying. I'm sensing a power struggle there--one with plenty of history.

I just got my chapters up: http://leakydinghy.blogspot.com/2007/11/great-read-chapters-7-9.html

Leila

Oh, I don't think he's bipolar. I think the book is making me bipolar.

More later, when I'm not at work.

Gail

At this point in the book, I was beginning to find Mrs. deW2 a little trying. She was seeming a little repetitive to me. I so wish I could remember what I thought reading this as a teenager. Now, as I was reading these chapters I was wanting to say to her, For Heaven's sake, go tour your domain. Mark your territory.

The other thing I was thinking while I was reading this was how mind-numbingly boring life was there for the de Winters. Like being in the Twilight Zone boring. And shameful. To have absolutely nothing to do because so very many people are doing all your basic life maintenance work for you. To have two people cleaning your room for you when you haven't even lived in it for twenty-four hours.

All their personal care is done for them, and these people still can't think of anything purposeful to do with their lives. Look at Beatrice. She's a wonderful character but in either these chapters or the next three we see that the poor woman's whole life is, as I believe Leila said, a Bertie Wooster stereotype. (I think Bertie at least played the piano.)

I am probably reading too much into this, but I was wondering if du Maurier was making some kind of statement about people of that class. I tried looking Rebecca and du Maurier up on-line to see if I could find anything written on the subject. All I found was that while she did come from a very comfortable background, her family was more bohemian and arty than these people.

When you read a little further, I think you'll agree that the de Winters would despise arty.

I don't know. Maybe at the time this book was written the de Winter's lifestyle would be considered attractive and desirable.

One article I found (and will not link to because it was full of spoilers) says that Mrs. deW2 is 21, by the way.

Leila

"For Heaven's sake, go tour your domain. Mark your territory." I think, in a way, that's what both Maxim and Beatrice were getting at with Mrs.deW2 -- that if she'd boss Mrs. Danvers around (in the right way), show some backbone at least, then Mrs. Danvers would respect her. Maybe.

I do think she mentioned being 21 somewhere in chapters 4-6, but I could be wrong.

Specifically, Beatrice reminded me of Honoria Glossip, who Bertie almost had to marry, like, 87 times. (She was very sporty and tweedy, like Beatrice.)

Okay, still at work. Working.

Becky

http://readingwithbecky.blogspot.com/2007/11/reading-rebecca-pt-3.html

Emmaco

I also groaned aloud (and put the book aside) when Mrs deW2 said Mrs de Winter was dead. So embarrassing.

I didn't really pick up a disapproval vibe of the lifestyle but maybe that's because Max seems busy (running the estate?) and Rebecca did too, even if it was busy with letters and menus and recording what her visitors ate. But the situation Mrs deW2 found herself in wouldn't have arisen without the need to maintain this artificial kind of life. I can see that perhaps du Maurier was trying to say "these people live a pointless life where you can actually have nothing useful to do if you aren't socially connected and then your life consists of maintaining those connections!".

Elizabeth, I'm with you on the Max as a dick theory. I'm finding him a very unattractive character.

Some notes up at my blog.

Leila

I picked up on a disapproval vibe, but only once, when Mrs.deW2 was so taken aback by the breakfast spread. Do we know how old she was when her parents died? What her childhood was like? Not really, right? So it's possible that she's experienced some pretty serious want, maybe? I'm not really going anywhere with that, just wondering.

Okay, I just went around and read everyone's posts -- you guys are hysterical. First prize goes to Elizabeth, for : "But I was wrong. I still don't like Maxim. Not because he's old, though--I don't think of 42 as old anymore--but because he's a dick."

And I think I'm with emmaco re: Rebecca vs. Mrs.deW2 -- Rebecca's a more attractive character, and we haven't even met her. Impressive work on du Maurier's part. (Actually, I'm finding Mrs. Danvers more attractive, too. But I'm a sucker for Skull-Faced Housekeepers.)

Elizabeth

Yeah, I didn't pick up a disapproval vibe, either, but I think I'll go back and have a second look. It's funny, having read all the postings and comments, how we all become preoccupied with different story elements. I think my dislike for Maxim may be distracting me from some of the more nuanced themes.

Gail

I have to say that I'm not finding Maxim particularly attractive for any number of reasons, though I can't say I hate him, either. It occurred to me today that perhaps the reason middle aged men marry young women is that women their own age know better than to get involved with them. I think a mature woman would have seen red flags all over Maxim in Monte Carlo.

But, again, this may have something to do with the time in which the book was written. Women may have gone for controlling guys in a bigger way back in the 30s.

jessmonster

I'm up to the lunch scene, listening to it, so I don't have any specific lines marked but I'm definitely getting a controlling/emotionally abusive vibe from Maxim. I agree with Gail that women Maxim's age know well enough to stay away from him. Heck, I would know enough to stay away and I'm 26. As for Mrs.deW2, I go back and forth between pity and annoyance. I do sympathize with her sense of hesitation at Manderley - that she doesn't want to ask for help, but dammit, there comes a point when you have to assert yourself.

I wonder about Rebecca...I almost think Mrs.deW2 is blowing her out of proportion, making her this perfect wife in her imagination when in reality she was probably as much of an innocent as Mrs.deW2. Maybe she was higher class, and knew more about how to fit in with the lifestyle, but emotionally I would guess that she was the same type as her successor and that our narrator is just projecting all kinds of ideas about Rebecca.

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