Mrs Danvers: A Foil for the Narrator of "Rebecca" 12th Grade

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 after the title character, Rebecca, from Rebecca's youth; she then moved to Manderley after the marriage to Maxim de Winter. Mrs Danvers was devoted to Rebecca and despises the narrator, because she doesn’t want her to replace Rebecca. She therefore takes great pleasure in undermining the narrator and making her feel as though she is inferior to Rebecca.

One of the most obvious contrasts between Mrs Danvers and the narrator is their physical appearances. When the narrator first 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 someone to be afraid of. It is as if she was so connected to Rebecca that she died with her; the only...

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