Major characters

  • The narrator/the second Mrs. de Winter: Neither the narrator's first nor maiden name is revealed. She is referred to as "my wife", Mrs. de Winter, "my dear", etc. The one time she is introduced with a name is during a fancy dress ball, in which she dresses as a de Winter ancestor and is introduced as "Caroline de Winter," however this is evidently not her own name; when she signs her name, she signs "Mrs. M de Winter" but the M is Maxim's initial, not hers. Early in the novel she receives a letter and remarks that her name was correctly spelled, which is "an unusual thing," suggesting her name is uncommon, foreign or complex. Whilst courting her, Maxim compliments her on her "lovely and unusual name."
  • Maximilian "Maxim" de Winter: The reserved, unemotional owner of Manderley. He marries his new wife after a brief courtship, yet displays little affection toward her after the marriage. He eventually does reveal that he does love her, yet after several months of marriage.
  • Mrs. Danvers: The cold-hearted, overbearing housekeeper of Manderley. Danvers has lived with Rebecca for years, being her family's maid when Rebecca was a child. She is unhealthily obsessed with Rebecca and preserving her memory, and resents the new Mrs. de Winter, convinced she is trying to "take Rebecca's place."
  • Rebecca de Winter: The unseen title character, who has been dead for less than a year, after her husband shot her and put her body in her sailboat, sinking it to make it look like she had drowned. A famous beauty, whilst on the surface she was a devoted wife and perfect hostess, Rebecca was actually a compulsive liar and an openly promiscuous woman who tormented her husband Maxim with lurid tales of her non-stop affairs. She goaded Maxim into killing her when she found out she was dying of cancer, yet her lingering presence overwhelms Manderley. Dialogue concerning Rebecca's exploits implies that she was mentally unstable and sadistic – for example Danvers mentions her in childhood cruelly whipping a horse until it bled.

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