Monday, 7 November 2011

A Classic Tale of Love and Mystery

I first read this book in 1980, and liked it then .I have read it  now after31 years , and rate it as a true Classic .Daphne Du Maurier  got it published in 1938 , when she was 31 years old .She tore up the initial fifteen thousand -word long draft, and wrote it a second time.
The most striking feature of the novel is its suspense and mystery , which Du Maurier has been able to maintain till the very end. Rebecca is the first wife of Maxim  De Winter , and is dead.Her story is revealed through the second wife of Maxim, who does not reveal her  own name in the book .No doubt , Rebecca is the real heroine.She is a powerful character.Even though dead , she lives through her house-keeper Mrs Danvers, who adores Rebecca and is fiercely loyal to her, even after Rebecca's death .So much so that when she learns about the real cause of death , she sets the beautiful mansion  called Manderley on fire and completely destroys it .
Rebecca was a complex personality. She was beautiful and magnetic.She had beauty , brains and breeding .But the marriage of Maxim and Rebecca was a failure , right from the start .She had a number of male friends and "lovers" in London and even around Manderley.She was not in love with anyone .Love-making was a game with her, as Mrs Danvers would later reveal .But she suffered from  Cancer too , and this secret she had kept even from her most loyal house-keeper also .Probably , before her death , she had only three or four more months to live .
Maxim's marriage with the narrator of the novel , who is young and nearly half his age, takes place , on the proposal of Maxim , one year after the death of Rebecca.Though he says he loves her , it is doubtful, as reflected by his conduct .Perhaps he needed a companion.She , on the other hand , loves him , and is ready to  blindly support him , even when she finds him involved in murder.She is timid , under-confident and over awed by the shadow of Rebecca , in the beginning , but slowly and steadily , overcomes all her fears and becomes confident .
The mystery whether the death of Rebecca would be proved murder or suicide , remains till the very end .
The book is very subversive about the idea of love .Neither Rebecca , nor Maxim seem to care for love .The burden of love is carried by the nameless, poor  , timid , narrator , the second wife of Maxim de Winter.
The book has poetry and imagery , mystery and suspense , and much more qualities that makes it truly classic . The book needs to be read , re-read , and re-examined by everyone.