Rebecca Rebecca discussion

Mrs. Danvers-lesbian or not?

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I personally think so, how about you?

Caroline No I don't think so she had been with Rebecca since she was very young and was more like her mother than her lover

Will I don' see any evidence of Mrs. Danver's being a lesbian. Nor was she a true maternal figure for Rebecca. I think she was zealot in the cult of Rebecca.
The title "Mrs" indicates that at some point there was, and possibly still is, a Mr. Danvers (poor bastard). This doesn't necessarily eliminate the possibility of her being a lesbian or bisexual, but it does show that she had followed the conventions of her generation (late Victorian/Edwardian). Her own personality, strong and ambitious, was probably stiffled during her own prime. But the interbellum period opened up new opportunities for women and relaxed the constraints of the traditionally male dominated society. As governess to the precocious Rebecca, Mrs. Danvers finds a vehicle to exercise her own ambitions. Instead of guiding young Rebecca, she seems to encourage, even idolize, Rebecca's increasingly reckless behavior. She can overcome her own frustration vicariously through Rebecca's life. Mrs. Danvers is as much responsible for Rebecca's actions as is Rebecca herself. Eventually, while others are beguiled by Rebecca's charms, Mrs. Danvers is completely engulfed by Rebecca's personality. Rebecca's death eviscerates Mrs. Danvers. The fact that others are able to move on with their lives without Rebecca, is unaccetable by Mrs. Danvers who would rather destroy the world (or at least, Manderlay) than see any one else enjoy it.
Personally, I like to think Mr. Danver ran off and joined the French Foreign Legion and then retired to Tahiti.

Julie ridiculous question!

M.R. Graham I don't see their relationship as being sexual in nature. Like Will said, Mrs Danvers was obsessed and engulfed by Rebecca.
However, as the chief priestess in Rebecca's cult of personality, I do get the feeling that Mrs Danvers would have given Rebecca whatever she wanted, up to and including sex, if the topic had ever come up. By the time of Rebecca's death, Mrs Danvers was entirely in her thrall.

Lulu Yes. Mrs Danvers didn't come off as the maternal type rather she seemed very infatuated with Rebecca, remember she describes Rebecca as "a strapping horse woman" and gushes about Rebecca being the light of a room. I mean she destroys a whole friggin Estate. I would call that love! Also, note that Rebecca's "encounters" in the boatshed were described as "unnatural" and you can't count the encounters with the cousin because back in those days people married their cousins all the time. Also, note that the unnamed character was a "travelling companion" which I believe at the time this book was written was an euphemism for lesbians. There is a view that DD was actually a closeted lesbian and Rebecca (the novel) reflects her true life struggle with her public hetro self against the closeted lesbo side.

Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* I never got a romantic angle at all, just sort of an awe and reverence

message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

I definitely read Mrs Danvers as a lesbian. But then when Rebecca was written there wasn't really any awareness of lesbianism, so possibly it's a 21st-century perspective that wasn't intended by Du Maurier.

Jaime PUHLEASE! Let's stop reading 2013 images into classics. This is as nauseating as Disney's previous attempts at remaking classic tales into ethnic fare. A story or book is written to reflect its time. Let's respect the writer and his/her time and not try to force our times/age/beliefs on them.

message 10: by M.R. (new) - rated it 5 stars

M.R. Graham Hebe (The English Student) wrote: "I definitely read Mrs Danvers as a lesbian. But then when Rebecca was written there wasn't really any awareness of lesbianism, so possibly it's a 21st-century perspective that wasn't intended by Du..."
Oh, sure there was. I don't think that particular word was used often, and fiction on the subject was frowned upon, but one of the common arguments against the women's suffrage movement was that all suffragettes were batting for the other team and would obliterate the moral fiber of society if allowed to influence policy. Obviously, there wasn't any positive awareness of lesbianism... 9_9

Jaime: Homosexuality isn't at all a 2013 image! It's been documented as far back as the written word stretches, as well as in modern hominids, suggesting that it was probably around before humans were even human. No one is forcing anything, and asking questions certainly is not disrespectful.
(Also, every setting is ethnic. It's just a question of which ethnicity. ;) )

Terri Why does this matter, please?

message 12: by Melissa Jeanette (last edited Jan 01, 2013 12:50PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Melissa  Jeanette I was just wondering the same thing the other day! I read it a while ago, so it's not fresh in my mind, but I was thinking about the part where Mrs. Danvers described Rebecca as only using men, and that she would never fall in love with a man or be used by one. Something to that effect anyway. It made me wonder if perhaps she was a lesbian. While I don't see her and Rebecca as having a relationship, it's clear that, at the very least, she admired Rebecca's independence (whether lesbian or not). I do see her as somewhat of a mother figure, albeit a twisted one. It's interesting to see other people's thoughts on the subject.

Jaime I am aware that homosexuality has existed forever. It is mentioned in the Bible and other ancient texts. What I argued was that it was not a central theme in this book nor an issue. In reference to my ethnic comment, I was referring to changing the ethnicity and setting of tales and its impact on the whole message of the tale. One should not mess with art or literature to modernize it.

message 14: by M.R. (new) - rated it 5 stars

M.R. Graham Not a central theme, no, but certainly a valid question. As something that wasn't freely discussed, it only ever shows up in oblique reference, and therefore can be kind of confusing even when it was intended. In this case, though, it's sort of like the Dumbledore question - Maybe Danvers was lesbian, but it doesn't really affect the plot either way. If she is, it's hardly a sympathetic portrayal.
Which Disney movies were you talking about, then? The only one that comes to mind is Aladdin, but I haven't exactly been keeping up with the franchise. ^^;

Chelsie Lesbian, no, just odd. I honestly think she went mad after Rebecca died, as she was a mother figure of sorts for Rebecca, being her head maid. If you watch the movie, you notice at the end that she's got a very "out of it" expression on her face, which is something the book doesn't necessarily provide.

Lauren Conrad I don't think so in the book. The film is a different story. I mean, it was written way before gay rights because a big thing like it is today. People certainly still wrote about it, but I can't tell if that would cross Du Maurier's mind. Can someone tell me anything about the author that might have made her explore lesbian themes?

message 17: by Susan (last edited Jan 15, 2013 10:28AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Susan Kovalinsky This is a legitimate question.

Yes, I believe Du Maurier was most definitely hinting that Mrs. Danvers had lesbian feelings toward Rebecca. Du Maurier in her own life had these feelings for certain women friends as well, and autobiographical elements creep into authors' works.

I don't believe Du Maurier thought there would be any doubt - particularly in the end parts - that readers would glean this. And as Mr. De Winter said to his young bride about Rebecca, "She wasn't even normal."

Rebecca was published in 1938, over a decade after Europe had gone through a very pro-homosexual period, with lots of cabarets and open homosexual behavior among many artists and intellectuals. It did not need Alfred Hitchcock's film for the hints of lesbianism to come forth.

I find it rude that anyone thought this questions should not be asked: Historically, there is a "gay" context to both Du Maurier and Rebecca; even if the psychological or culturally decadent aspects(there had been a recent backlash against "queer culutre" in both Europe and the U.S., due to global economic collapse) are stressed.

Alexandra Will wrote: "... The title "Mrs" indicates that at some poin..."

No, it does not. A housekeeper was always addressed as "Mrs X", regardless of whether or not she was, or had been, married.

I very much doubt that there ever was a "Mr Danvers". Mrs Danvers seems to be far too obsessed with Rebecca to leave room for another person in her life. However, I think it would be wrong to see her as a lesbian - there are other forms of obsession other than the sexual. A relationship, whether homosexual or heterosexual, implies some sort of partnership, and I think that Mrs Danvers is far too subservient and dominated by Rebecca, for it to be considered a romantic relationship (by her or by anyone else).

message 19: by Susan (last edited Jan 15, 2013 10:32AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Susan Kovalinsky A relationship, whether homosexual or heterosexual, implies some sort of partnership, and I think that Mrs Danvers is far too subservient and dominated by Rebecca, for it to be considered a romantic relationship (by her or by anyone else).

The question is not whether Mrs. Danvers is in a relationship with R, but rather, whether her obsession was lesbian in nature.

I believe it was, or at least that a lesbian aspect was deliberately introduced by the author.

Alexandra Keshena wrote: "Everyone seems to have forgotten that Mrs. Danvers was Rebecca's nanny when she was a child. Her affection towards Rebecca was fundamentally maternal, albeit in a twisted way because this is, after..."

I think you are absolutely right.

There seems to be a modern tendency to assume that all strongly emotional relationships have to be sexual at root. Writers from earlier eras were more aware that there were also other types of love. And ANY love can become twisted.

message 21: by Susan (last edited Jan 15, 2013 11:05AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Susan Kovalinsky For all this, Mr. De Winter's hatred of his former wife has its emphasis on the moral and cultural decadence of Rebecca. There is a definite sexual aspect to her trips to London ("like an animal to its hole") and her bringing back unsavory types to the cottage.

That Mrs. Danvers' obsession grew with Rebecca's adulthood is a sign that she is infected by this decadence. Of course no love relationship is hinted at, but a sort of moral/sexual contagion is.

"Queer subtext" in Rebecca has been a much-discussed literary analysis theme.

message 22: by Melissa Jeanette (last edited Jan 15, 2013 12:40PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Melissa  Jeanette I don't think that people are necessarily assuming Mrs. Danvers was a lesbian either because of the Hitchcock film, or because of knowledge about the author, though I'm sure that can be the case for some. It certainly wasn't so in my case. I knew nothing about the author and had never heard of the Hitchcock film. If I, as an average reader without prior assumptions, was left wondering this question, then certainly there is room within the text for ambiguity concerning Mrs. Danvers orientation.

I don't however see Mrs. Danvers as having a sexual relationship with Rebecca, since she was Rebecca's nanny and would have raised her from a child (as Keshena pointed out). I saw her more as encouraging and being pleased by Rebecca adopting codes of conduct that she herself lived by or admired. She seemed to take great pride in Rebecca's exploits and behavior.

Btw, would people recommend the Hitchock film? Is the title of it just Rebecca?

Susan Kovalinsky Melissa Jeanette wrote: "I don't think that people are necessarily assuming Mrs. Danvers was a lesbian either because of the Hitchcock film, or because of knowledge about the author, though I'm sure that can be the case fo..."

Indeed, when I first read Rebecca many years ago, I knew nothing of Du Maurier and little of pre-World War II culture, and still felt there was something sexual in Danvers' obsession, if only latent.

Yes, the Hitchcock film is called "Rebecca" and can also be viewed in 13 parts on YouTube. Joan Fontaine is very good in it, and I love Laurence Olivier as Maxim.

Melissa  Jeanette Great! I'll look that up!

Davina Randle i think she is,, her obvious love and obsession of rebecca xx

message 26: by Ruth (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ruth If you watch the Hitchcock film version you get that impression.

Tracy Lacey I really didn't know what to think when I first read the book, as i was so young,and now,I really don't know what to think either.....I can see that she could be a lesbian, or just in thrall to Rebecca.....There is that scene where she's just almost orgasmic with Rebecca's underware....I always had the impression that Rebecca would have tried to seduce everyone and evrything, that was her turn-on, not the actual sucess or not of the seduction. I think you do get that impression watching the film, more so than the book, for me because the film version of Mrs. Danvers appeared to be far younger and more atracctive than i had pictured her book-wise. I couldn't actually picture the book's Mrs. Danvers being at all sexual....except for that underware thing!!!

Brittany She wasn't really a "mother" figure for Rebecca. If you look back through the novel Rebecca was not possessed by her for any kind of maternal relationship. She only confided in Danvers about her sexual relationships and hatred of men essentially. Danvers was more in awe of Rebecca because of the power that she possessed.

Karen Black Who cares?

Arria I could see Mrs. D as a lesbian. But I'm not sure.

Raneem Al Aradi Mrs Danvers isn't a lesbian. She just cherished Rebecca as a friend, she treated her as a daughter and as a best friend. She hated Mrs De Winter because Mrs Danvers thought that Mrs De Winter and Mr De Winter wanted to replace Rebecca, erasing her completely from their lives. She's making sure that that doesn't happen while she's still around.

Ellie I could certainly see Mrs. Danvers as having an attraction to/obsession with Rebecca but I think it's really more a sick fascination & specific to Rebecca than any general sexual orientation.

message 33: by Nelly (last edited Apr 11, 2013 03:55PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nelly I didn't think Mrs Danvers was a lesbian, but was rather fascinated and in awe of Rebecca - she lived life through her. I think perhaps Mrs Danvers had more maternal affection towards Rebecca. There are hints throughout the novel, however, that Rebecca is bisexual, which I would not have noticed if not for the afterword in my edition! I would say to those who think the idea of homosexuality in this novel is ridiculous due to its time, that there are definitely hints as to a bisexual nature in Rebecca's character and there were even rumours that Daphne DuMaurier herself was bisexual. I had never, however, considered Mrs Danvers being a lesbian though, which is an interesting, if not entirely convincing to me, idea.

Elise To those people who ask "Why does it matter," or "Who cares": Obviously people do care (hence this long chain of comments). Isn't it a good thing to question and discuss what we read? Just because the topic may not seem plausible or important to you doesn't mean it's not important to other people, or that it is an invalid topic to be dismissed. I say the more discussion and debate inspired by literature, the better, regardless of the topic. :)

As for the topic of this particular thread, I will say that I had a moment when I briefly wondered if Mrs. Danvers had a homosexual fascination with Rebecca (it was during her rant about how Rebecca used men, would never fall in love with a man, etc.), but I think for me it seems that Mrs. Danvers lived precariously through Rebecca, and was in awe of her. (Actually, that quote made me wonder more whether Rebecca was a lesbian, but it seems that she just enjoyed seducing and then discarding men for pleasure.) Mrs. Danvers seems to have gotten pleasure from causing pain in others, and since Rebecca shared this pleasure, they had a strong bond. However, if Mrs. Danvers and/or Rebecca turned out to be bisexual or homosexual, it would not be the greatest shock to me.

Marren I never got that impression of her. I saw her as one of those parent/guardian who are insanely obsessed and boastful of their child/ward. Rebecca did no wrong in Mrs. Danvers eye.

Stevie Henden I absolutely think that there is a hint that Mrs Danvers had very strong feelings for Rebecca which may have been more than friendship. It is irrelevant that the relationship was not sexual, as some people have commented. Gay people can still fall in love and become obsessed with others , without the sexual act happening, just as straight people can. I see Mrs Danvers as having an obsessive love for Rebecca which the latter was most probably not in the slightest bit aware of.

Alexandra I think the obsessive love is beyond doubt. But there are other types of love; I don't see any elements of sexual interest here. I think it is the maternal impulse that is being perverted into obsession here, rather than a romantic/sexual one.

Arria I think Mrs. Danvers definitely had an unhealthy obsession with Rebecca.

Susan I think it is irrelevant whether she was a lesbian. She was just nasty, that's all.

message 40: by Java (new) - rated it 5 stars

Java Davis Definitely an unrequited lesbian, which is why she couldn't take to the new wife. Never got over her first love.

message 41: by [deleted user] (new)

I once had a literature professor who had a list of Mark Twain critics citing the homosexual relationship between Huck Finn and Jim. Being 19 and over-industrious, I read some of the references, only to come away confused as to why this would be relevant, who would read between the lines to this extreme, and what kind of person would want to ruin a great story with such analysis. I love the book Rebecca as much as I loved Huck Finn. Don't mess with a good story.

message 42: by Arria (last edited Jun 11, 2013 07:11AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Arria It's not messing with a story to ask questions and opinions about it. Different readers have different interpretations. Everyone is entitled to their own interpretation.

message 43: by Kressel (last edited Aug 08, 2013 08:33AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kressel Housman You know, I didn't think much of the question when I first read it, but now that I've seen some of the responses, I'm thinking, "Maybe a little." Both were certainly men-haters. Rebecca was a nympho who used men as a toy, and Mrs. Danvers cheered her on. And then there was that hair-brushing. That's a normal task for a lady's maid, but then, so is assisting her in the bath. . .

I think a real interesting literary parallel to pursue is Miss Havisham and Estella (Great Expectations). The difference is that Miss Havisham groomed Estella to break men's hearts, as opposed to Rebecca, who took the lead in that department with Mrs. Danvers just aiding and abetting.

Elise Arria wrote: "It's not messing with a story to ask questions and opinions about it. Different readers have different interpretations. Everyone is entitled to their own interpretation."

Thank you! This is the beauty of literature! :)

message 45: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen How is it messing with a story to question a major character's sexuality? How is not rude to ask "Who cares?" just because you have no interest? How is it "ruining" a story to question whether or not one of the main characters was a lesbian? I don't think these responses would happen if Mrs. Danvers were "Mr. Danvers"... These kinds of dismissive comments are very, very offensive and fly in the face of what Good Reads is all about.

Before I knew anything about Du Maurier or the Hitchcock film, I read Rebecca and did think that there was an obsessive, sexual intent to Mrs. Danvers' infatuation with Rebecca. I was about fourteen and I remember telling my Mother that I thought Mrs. Danvers was in love with Rebecca. My Mother agreed with me and we had a long discussion about the themes in the book.

Over time, I've read about Daphne Du Maurier's bisexuality and yes, I do think she intended that element to the novel. From the nickname of "Danny" to the way Mrs. Danvers derided Rebecca's fake relationships with men ("she used to rock with laughter at all of you"), to the intimate, caressing way she touched Rebecca's night clothes, her bed spread, her things. It was all in the subtleties.

It certainly isn't ridiculous, given the symbolism, hints and outright declarations (Beatrice says it first - "She simply adored Rebecca") and couple that with Du Maurier's own buried sexuality - you have a very potent argument for Mrs. Danvers' lesbianism.

Caroline Danny was short for Danvers and you can adore someone or something without any sexual connotations. She had always been with Rebecca that was why she felt as she did about her.

message 47: by [deleted user] (new)

If we assume that Mrs. Danvers was indeed a lesbian or bisexual, their relationship reminds me a lot of the one between Lord Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange from Harry Potter. O.o

message 48: by Penny (last edited Aug 20, 2013 05:56AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Penny Julia wrote: "I once had a literature professor who had a list of Mark Twain critics citing the homosexual relationship between Huck Finn and Jim. Being 19 and over-industrious, I read some of the references, o..."

Here here Julia
People seem obsessed about whether characters are Gay or Lesbian in books!! I really do find it tiresome.

Thomas Paul I had thought that she looked on Rebecca in a motherly way but as an obsessed mother with a child who can do no wrong. It never occurred to me that she was thinking about Rebecca in a sexual way.

message 50: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen Penny wrote: "Julia wrote: "I once had a literature professor who had a list of Mark Twain critics citing the homosexual relationship between Huck Finn and Jim. Being 19 and over-industrious, I read some of the..."

Why do you find it tiresome?

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