Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier – Quick Book Summary



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“Happiness is not a possession to be prized, it is a quality of thought, a state of mind.”

– Daphne du Maurier.


This summary offers a comprehensive examination of “Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier, delving into its intriguing characters, atmospheric setting, psychological themes, and the author’s unique storytelling approach.

Book Information:

Title: Rebecca | Author: Daphne du Maurier | Genre: Gothic Fiction | Publication Year: 1938

Brief Overview:

Rebecca explores the haunting memory of the enigmatic Rebecca, the first wife of wealthy Maxim de Winter, as perceived by his timid second wife.


Author’s Background:

Daphne du Maurier, a British author famous for her intriguing romances infused with gothic elements, penned Rebecca, one of her best-known works, drawing inspiration from her own life and experiences.

Publication Context:

Rebecca, du Maurier’s fifth novel, further established her popularity and was groundbreaking in its deep exploration of the psychological landscape of its characters, challenging societal norms of the time.

Character Summary

Main Characters:

  • The unnamed protagonist: Maxim de Winter’s second wife, an introverted, naive young woman, often compared unfavorably with Rebecca.
  • Maxim de Winter: The wealthy and brooding owner of Manderley, haunted by his past.
  • Rebecca: The late first wife of Maxim, remembered as a charismatic, vivacious woman.
  • Mrs. Danvers: The sinister housekeeper of Manderley, obsessed with Rebecca.

Character Development:

The second Mrs. de Winter evolves from a timid and insecure woman into a more assertive and loyal wife, while Maxim’s character reveals a dark, complicated past.

Plot Summary


A whirlwind romance leads the protagonist to Manderley, where she confronts the shadow of Rebecca, feeling increasingly alienated as secrets unravel.


The story unfolds in the grand estate of Manderley, situated on the rugged Cornish coast, creating an atmospheric backdrop that adds to the suspense and drama.

Themes and Motifs

Key Themes:

  • Identity and Self-Worth
  • The Power of the Past
  • Appearances vs. Reality

Motifs and Symbols:

The Manderley mansion and Rebecca’s preserved room are recurring symbols, embodying the looming presence of the past.

Takeaway Morals


The story explores the dangers of idealization, the importance of personal identity, and the lasting influence of past actions.


These morals are applicable in understanding the consequences of not confronting past regrets and the significance of personal growth and self-identity.


Literary Devices:

du Maurier skillfully employs foreshadowing, imagery, and a first-person narrative to build suspense and a gothic atmosphere.

Style and Tone:

With a blend of psychological insight, suspenseful storytelling, and lush descriptive prose, the tone is hauntingly evocative.

Critical Reception

Initial Reception:

Rebecca was immensely successful at its launch, captivating audiences with its mystery, romance, and psychological depth.

Current Standing:

Today, Rebecca is celebrated as a classic in gothic literature, known for its unique blend of romance and suspense.

Personal Response

Personal Opinion:

What a roller coaster of emotions! Just when you think you’ve got Manderley’s blueprints figured out, bam! A new secret passage. The suspense, the vivid characters – it’s like “Desperate Housewives” went on a British vacation and stumbled into a gothic novel.


If you love a good mystery, a dash of romance, and a sprinkle of spook, pack your bags for Manderley. Just avoid any sleepwalking housekeepers.

About the Author


Born in London in 1907, Daphne du Maurier was a prominent British author who excelled in creating atmospheric works of mystery and romance.

Literary Career:

du Maurier wrote numerous novels, short stories, and plays, including the famous ‘Jamaica Inn’ and ‘The Birds,’ the latter adapted into a film by Alfred Hitchcock.

Book Details

Publication Details:

Originally published in 1938 by Victor Gollancz Ltd, Rebecca has seen numerous editions and translations over the years.

Structural Details:

Rebecca is divided into 27 chapters, spanning over 380 pages in the first edition.



This analysis provides an insight into the themes, characters, plot, and stylistic devices in Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca.

Final Thoughts:

Rebecca, a classic in its own right, remains a compelling read for its intricate character development, atmospheric setting, and blend of romance and suspense.

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