Maxim De Winter's second wife and the narrator of the novel. The narrator works as Mrs. Van Hopper's paid companion in Monte Carlo until meeting Maxim and agreeing to marry him. Unsophisticated and timid, the narrator is insecure about her role as the mistress of Manderley and is overwhelmed by the constant reminder of Rebecca in the estate. As the novel progresses, the narrator becomes increasingly preoccupied with Rebecca and ultimately concludes that Maxim is still in love with her. After Maxim confesses the truth to her, the narrator is suddenly free from Rebecca's shadow and can assume her true role as mistress of the house and Maxim's wife.
Maxim de Winter
The intelligent and cultured owner of Manderley. At first, Maxim is a mystery, seemingly tormented by the memory of his first wife. He dislikes talking about Rebecca and increasingly detaches himself from his new wife, leading the narrator to believe that he is still in love with Rebecca. After Rebecca's boat is found on the bay, Maxim confesses the truth to the narrator: his marriage to Rebecca was a facade, and he despised her so much that he murdered her in a fit of rage. In the end, Maxim realized that Rebecca manipulated him into killing her so that she would not have to die slowly of cancer.
Rebecca de Winter
Maxim's first wife and the beautiful mistress of Manderley. Lauded for her beauty, sophistication, and elegance, Rebecca seems to be the superior to the narrator in every way. Even Maxim asserts that all of Manderley's beauty is due to Rebecca's taste and influence. The narrator concludes that Maxim is still in love with Rebecca and is tormented by her presence in everything at Manderley. Eventually, it is revealed that Rebecca was an evil woman who committed unspeakable atrocities under the guise of her grace and beauty.
Rebecca's maid and the housekeeper of Manderley. Mrs. Danvers accompanied Rebecca to Manderley after her marriage and continues to run the estate in the same way that she did when Rebecca was alive. Over the course of the novel, Mrs. Danvers reveals an unhealthy obsession with Rebecca and a determination to punish the narrator for taking her place. She takes every opportunity to undermine the narrator and remind her of her inferiority to Rebecca, convincing her to dress as Caroline De Winter for the costume ball and even urging her to kill herself by jumping out of the window. Like Jack Favell, Mrs. Danvers suspects that Maxim was involved in Rebecca's death and ultimately sets Manderley on fire.
Rebecca's cousin and lover. The narrator first meets Favell at Manderley during Maxim's absence and is put off by his bold manner and suggestive remarks. After Rebecca's body is discovered, Favell contends that Maxim murdered her and attempts to prove that they were planning to run away together. He brings in Ben as a witness, displays a note from Rebecca, and prompts the trip to London to interview Dr. Baker. After Dr. Baker seems to confirm the coroner's findings, Favell returns to Manderley and presumably sets the estate on fire with Mrs. Danvers.
Maxim's sister. Athletic and outspoken, Beatrice initially intimidates the narrator but eventually becomes more supportive. She gives the narrator a set of beautiful art books as a wedding present, takes her to visit Maxim's grandmother, and comforts her after the disaster of the costume ball. Her comment, "You are so very different from Rebecca," is one of the first times that the narrator is directly compared to Maxim's first wife.
Mrs. Van Hopper
A wealthy and gossipy American woman who hires the narrator as a "companion" for her European travels. During their time at Monte Carlo, Mrs. Van Hopper introduces herself to Maxim and inadvertently prompts the friendship between Maxim and the narrator. After hearing about the narrator's engagement, Mrs. Van Hopper raises the first doubts in her mind with the warning, "Personally, I think you are making a big mistake--one that you will bitterly regret."
The overseer of Manderley. Known for his loyalty and tact, Frank is one of the narrator's sole friends on the estate and assures her that she is what Maxim needs. However, he is reticent to discuss Rebecca except to comment on her great beauty, and the narrator concludes that he was just as much in love with Rebecca as everyone else. Later on, it is revealed that Frank almost quit his job at Manderley because of Rebecca's constant attempts to seduce him. The narrator suspects that Frank also knew that Maxim had killed Rebecca.
A mildly retarded man who lives on the Manderley estate. He witnesses Rebecca having an affair with Jack Favell, but he denies it when interviewed by Colonel Julyan because he fears that Rebecca will fulfill her promise to send him to an asylum. Ben is the only character to describe Rebecca in a negative light from the very beginning of the book.
The local magistrate who investigates Rebecca's death. Colonel Julyan dines with Maxim and the narrator and is unwilling to accept Jack Favell's accusation that Maxim murdered Rebecca. He accompanies them to meet with Dr. Baker and ultimately concludes that Rebecca did commit suicide.
A physician in London who had an appointment with Rebecca on the day of her death. Dr. Baker informs Maxim and Colonel Julyan that Rebecca was infertile and had only a few months left to live when she died. His testimony supports the coroner's assertion that Rebecca killed herself.
One of Maxim's pet cocker spaniels and the narrator's favorite. Jasper leads the narrator to Rebecca's cottage on the beach.
The butler at Manderley.
A local noblewoman who encourages Maxim and the narrator to revive the famous costume ball at Manderley.
The narrator's personal maid. Clarice is also new to Manderley and is the only member of the staff who makes the narrator feel comfortable.
Major Giles Lacy
Beatrice's husband and the object of one of Rebecca's many successful seductions.
Maxim's grandmother. The narrator and Beatrice visit Gran on one occasion, only to have her become disoriented and ask repeatedly for Rebecca.
The shipbuilder who built and maintained Rebecca's boat. At the inquest, he testifies that the ship sank because of holes drilled in the bottom.
The young footman at Manderley. Mrs. Danvers blames Robert for the broken china cupid until the narrator takes responsibility.
The housemaid at Manderley. Mrs. Danvers assigns Alice to the narrator, but the narrator is intimidated by Alice's superior manner and replaces her with Clarice.
The harbormaster of Kerrith, who informs the narrator that they have found Rebecca's boat at the bottom of the bay.
The parlor-maid for Maxim's grandmother.
Rebecca Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Rebecca is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
The novel is a classic, and there aren't many weaknesses to cite. If I had to list a few I might go with the fact it has an inordinate amount of imagery...... then again, imagery is so lacking in contemporary literature that I hate to even...
The narrator's feelings and behaviors were based on her fear that Maxim still loved his wife...... she was jealous and uncertain. Maxim's revelation frees her from these feelings...... rather than existing in a world of mystery and uncertainty,...