Atmosphere of Fear and Tension in Rebecca
Shy ladies' companion is staying in Monte Carlo with her stuffy
employer when she meets the wealthy George Fortescu Maximillian
'Maxim' de Winter. Max is still troubled over the death of his first
wife Rebecca, who was killed in a boating accident the year before.
She and Max fall in love and get married. They return to Manderley,
his large country estate in Cornwall. The second Mrs. De Winter meets
the housekeeper Mrs. Danvers and discovers that Rebecca still has a
strange hold on Manderley. The second Mrs. De Winter wants it change
this; she wants to hold her own masquerade ball to introduce herself.
Maxim appears in a hallway, she joyfully rushes into his arms, and
then asks his permission to hold her own fancy dress costume ball to
lighten up the atmosphere.
"I'll design a costume all by myself and give you the surprise of your
While sketching various costume ideas for the ball, Mrs. Danvers
suggest that Mrs. De Winter find inspiration from the large family
painting in the hall at the top of the stairs, a portrait of Lady
Caroline de Winter (one of Maxim's ancestors), dressed in a white
"I hear Mr. De Winter say that this is his favorite of all the
Unknowingly, the heroine is planning to be dressed up like Rebecca
She glides down the great staircase to the ballroom, smiling proudly
and radiantly dressed in an exact copy of the lavish white gown. After
she greets him, he turns round and does not seem very impressed with
the dress - but appalled and angry at her for wearing the same kind of
dress worn by Rebecca at the previous Masquerade ball. He orders her
to "take it off".
Her happiness in being exactly like Rebecca instantly turns to horror
and despair. Thoroughly embarrassed and humiliated, Mrs. De Winter
turns and runs upstairs. She realizes the manipulatively evil
housekeeper has set her up. After catching a glimpse of Mrs. Danvers
entering Rebecca's room on the west wing, she follows her to question
her, but instead she is taunted and told that she will NEVER take
Rebecca's place at Manderley.
In this, the films most horrifying scene, Mrs. Danvers plots to
eliminate her by urging her to jump to her death from an open window
because she can never be the true replacement and mistress of the
estate; [The camera tracks back from outside the window, luring her to
The suspense in this scene is based on the irrefutable logic of
terror. Hitchcock slowly awakens in the audience a stream of suspense,
which he dams until the final hypnotic release when the explosions go
The foreboding visuals, the smooth transitions, the constant use of
the camera as an observing eye, and the atmospheric, soaring music, it
all adds to the director's work...