Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.
It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive, and for a while I could not enter, for the way was barred to me. There was a padlock and a chain upon the gate……
Then, like all dreamers, I was possessed of a sudden with supernatural powers and passed like a spirit through the barrier before me…….Du Maurier, Daphne. Rebecca. New York: Avon Books, 1971.
Dreams are usually closer to reality.
Closer to the elephant in the room than anything else.
So Rebecca is an enthralling story about a ladies’ companion who got courted for a fortnight by a rich, be-widowed Englishman Mr. Maxim de Winter. She then became Mrs. de Winter and then the new hostess of Mandeley, the inherited mansion in Cornwall.
A Mrs. Danvers, malicious housekeeper who remained loyal to Rebecca the first Mrs. de Winter exerted every single means to keep the new Mrs. de Winter on her edge. From foisting the old setting of the rooms to a worn iconic ball gown on the new hostess, she made every single detail of life an excruciating reminder of Mrs. de Winter’s inferiority to the immortal Rebecca. The only warmth radiated from the pet spaniel Jasper, with whom the heroine implicitly identified – another loyal pet to the obscure, constantly-troubled Maxim.
Everything heaped up into an intoxicating mix of intense self-denial & forced outwardly self-assertion until Mrs. de Winter got closer to the unbespoken truth of Rebecca, in the otherwise tranquil beach behind Mandeley; Maxim de Winter provided an explosive account of his relationship with Rebecca, one that sharply reoriented our interpretation of his earlier mutism (throughout over a half of the narrative) into an all-the-more inwardly ferocious turmoil – one that mirrored, or even surpassed, Mrs. de Winter’s.
‘I am Mrs. de Winter now, you know’, declared our heroine to Mrs. Danvers over a call regarding the menu for the night after.
The pair, reunited in their newfound and leaden understanding of each other, faced the ultimate doom for asserting the un-assertable – to the mansion that remained loyal to Rebecca. The estate was set on fire and the escaped de Winters became a forever diaspora to where they belonged – Manderley.
…… All this I resolved in my dream, while the clouds lay across the face of the moon, for like most sleepers I knew that I dreamed. In reality I lay many hundred miles away in an alien land, and would wake, before many seconds had passed, in the bare little hotel bedroom, comforting in its very lack of atmosphere.
I would sigh a moment, stretch myself and turn, and opening my eyes, be bewildered at that glittering sun, that hard, clean sky, so different from the soft moonlight of my dream. The day would lie before us both, long no doubt, and uneventful, but fraught with a certain stillness, a dear tranquillity we had not known before.
We would not talk of Manderley, I would not tell my dream. For Manderley was ours no longer. Manderley was no more.
We would not talk of Manderley, I would not tell my dream.
For Manderley was ours no longer. Manderley was no more.