From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Rebecca

Rebecca

  

by Daphne du Maurier

Rebecca Theme of Memory and the Past

Daphne du Maurier's blockbuster turned classic is for the most part, a memory of the past. It's narrated by a woman known only as Mrs. de Winter who's looking back on the most intense part of her past, from a present that seems to be comfortably numb. Her memories are of big, important events, including her Cinderella-style rise from paid companion to wife of the dashing, wealthy Maxim de Winter. But she also remembers the small things, like the weather, which show an intimacy with the natural world. Whatever the details, we must be aware that the story we're reading is subject to the unreliability of memory.

Questions About Memory and the Past

  1. What does Rebecca have to tell us about how memory works?
  2. Does the fact that Mrs. de Winter's story is a memory make it more or less reliable?
  3. Is Rebecca an actual ghost, or is her memory what haunts the characters?
  4. How do Rebecca's possessions serve as reminders of her life on earth?
  5. Will Maxim and Mrs. de Winter ever be able to forget Rebecca? Should they?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Mrs. de Winter doesn't know how to live in the present.

Maxim's memory of Manderley's fiery destruction eclipses his memory of killing Rebecca; it becomes his new source of torment.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Advertisement