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Published: 23-11-2019

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Mrs Danvers: A Foil for the Narrator of “Rebecca”

In the novel Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, the character of Mrs Danvers is presented as a foil to the narrator: a character who provides a contrast to the narrator in order to highlight her attributes. Mrs Danvers is the housekeeper at Mannerly and looked following the title character, Rebecca, from Rebecca’s youth she then moved to Manderley following the marriage to Maxim de Winter. Mrs Danvers was devoted to Rebecca and despises the narrator, since she doesn’t want her to replace Rebecca. She therefore takes excellent pleasure in undermining the narrator and creating her really feel as although she is inferior to Rebecca.

One particular of the most apparent contrasts amongst Mrs Danvers and the narrator is their physical appearances. When the narrator initial sets her eyes on Mrs Danvers upon her arrival at Manderley, she describes her as: ‘Tall and gaunt, dressed in deep black, whose prominent cheek-bones and great, hollow eyes gave her a skull’s face, parchment white, set on a skeleton’s frame.’ By pointing out her skull’s face and comparing her to a skeleton, things that are associated with death and decay, makes the reader believe that Mrs Danvers is somebody to be afraid of. It is as if she was so connected to Rebecca that she died with her the only time she ever seems to genuinely come alive is when she reminisces about Rebecca to the narrator. In contrast, the narrator is youthful and na?ve, she doesn’t have considerably expertise in the world. As she says in chapter two, when seeking back on the events at Manderley, ‘I can see myself now… bobbed hair and youthful, unpowered face… like a shy, uneasy colt’. She also later states ‘how young and inexperienced I need to have seemed’.

There are also considerable contrasts in the personalities of Mrs Danvers and the narrator. Mrs Danvers is very bullying, and her manipulative and sly behaviour very first came to light when she suggests to the narrator that she should dress as Caroline de Winter for the notorious costume ball. She knows that by performing this, it will humiliate the narrator, since it is the identical costume that the late Rebecca wore to the final costume ball. In spite of possessing no cause to trust Mrs Danvers following her previous hostile behaviour towards her, the narrator agrees to wear the costume, believing that it will acquire her approval. This shows how the narrator is insecure and self-conscious since she does not even query Mrs Danvers motives as she is so desperate to please.

In spite of this, Mrs Danvers and the narrator do have some things in widespread. For example, they are both very loyal characters – Mrs Danvers has her devotion to Rebecca and the narrator is committed to Mr de Winter. Mrs Danvers usually speaks of Rebecca lovingly, regardless of understanding about her perversely malicious and cruel nature. By way of her actions, Mrs Danvers could even be observed as carrying out the function of Rebecca soon after her death. This unconditional devotion that Mrs Danvers has for Rebecca is related to the narrator’s devotion to Maxim, even right after she finds out the truth that he killed the former Mrs de Winter. She vows to ‘fight for Maxim’, she would ‘lie and perjure and swear’ for him. This shows how both the characters of Mrs Danvers and the narrator are comparable: they are very selfless, and would do almost anything for the people the really like.

Even though Mrs Danvers is a good representation of a foil to the narrator, a far better example of a foil to the narrator is Rebecca. As Maxim’s wives, each of these characters are continuously being compared to each other. At the beginning of the novel, the narrator feels that she is inferior to Rebecca that Rebecca is almost everything she isn’t – alluring, self-assured and charismatic. They are even physically diverse: Rebecca is tall, slim and elegant, whereas the narrator is brief, boyish and clumsy. By the end of the novel, when we discover the accurate nature of Rebecca, she and the narrator nevertheless differ, even so the narrator’s unsophisticated and na?ve manner are far more of a breath of fresh air when she is compared to Rebecca’s callous and manipulative approaches.

The character of Mrs Danvers does, in main respects, provide a contrast to the narrator nevertheless, they do have factors in widespread. A far more stark foil to the narrator is Rebecca, as they are a direct opposite in their characters. Thereby displaying that beneath the surface there are a lot of contrasts which could appear to be a foil to the narrator not just the 1 of Mrs Danvers.
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