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Chapter Forty-Seven of Keeping Score In America: My Rebecca

By Michael Moriarty
web posted May 14, 2014

No, I knew nothing about Daphne du Maurier but her name and the confusing fact that she wasn't French but English.

Daphne du Maurier
Could She Have Been What I Hope She Was: A Genius?

The 1930 photo is of the famed author at roughly 22 or 23 years of age.

I only know the depth of her imagination from the Hitchcock film, Rebecca. There are other films with her name attached, two more by Hitchcock as well: Jamaica Inn  and The Birds.

She penned the novel of Rebecca, in 1938 during her 31st year of life.

I now have a rather shaky idealizing of her based entirely upon one film she inspired and without my having read a single word of her writing.

The surprise ending to Rebecca?

Her London physician's testimony?

Dr. Baker, played flawlessly by Leo G. Carroll?

Leo Carroll
Leo G. Carroll as Dr. Baker
The secret that all along Rebecca had cancer?

What convinces me of du Maurier's genius, however, is the bold nature of her central male character's crime!

Maxim de Winter's murder of his wife Rebecca.

In the novel, Maxim de Winter shoots her!!

In the film, she dies by seeming accident in her rage at Olivier's Maxim.

This major change in the script was made in order to abide by the Hollywood Production Code which demands that a character guilty of a crime such as murder must be seen by the audience as punished for the crime.

The studio and Hitchcock obviously were contented with a happy ending.

Here is Wikipedia's description of that portion of the novel: "The night of her death, she (Rebecca) suggested to Maxim that she was pregnant with another man's child, which she would raise under the pretence that it was Maxim's and he would be powerless to stop her. After intentionally being provoked, he shoots her, leading to her death."

Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier
Joan Fontaine as the second Mrs. De Winter
 and Laurence Olivier's Maxim de Winter
 in Rebecca

"Then he disposed of her body on her boat and sank it at sea. The second Mrs. de Winter is relieved to hear that Maxim had never loved Rebecca but instead really loves her."

No one is a saint in this novel!

The fact that Hitchcock's film makes du Maurier's story a complete melodrama, making Maxim de Winter not a cold-blooded killer but a victim of Rebecca?

Keeping Maxim a victim right up until the revelation by Dr. Baker that Rebecca was not pregnant but dying of cancer?

Wikipedia goes into even further detail about the differences between the novel and the film: "Although Selznick insisted that the film be faithful to the novel, Hitchcock did make some other changes, especially with the character of Mrs. Danvers, though not as many as he had made in a previous rejected screenplay, in which he altered virtually the entire story."

Judith Anderson
Judith Anderson as Mrs. Danvers stalking Joan Fontaine

"In the novel, Mrs. Danvers is something of a jealous mother figure, and her past is mentioned in the book. But in the film, Mrs. Danvers is a much younger character (the actress, Judith Anderson, would have been about 42 at the time of shooting) and her past is not revealed at all. The only thing we know about her is that she came to Manderley when Rebecca was a bride. Hitchcock made her more of a mysterious figure with subtly lesbian overtones, overtones which match well with du Maurier's own bisexuality."

Ah!

The most major revelation supporting my opinion of du Maurier as a one-major-novel. literary genius!!

Through du Maurier's eyes, the novel Rebecca is not a melodrama but a modern tragedy.

I agree with its author.

Rebecca is not, as in the film, a melodrama.

It is a modern tragedy.

I also acknowledge du Maurier's courage and literary wisdom in constructing such a revolutionary tale for the American readership.

Du Maurier, as a bisexual, certainly has no personal quarrel with lesbianism. She's more than fully acquainted with this American period's prejudice against any form of "alternate lifestyle" whether it be lesbianism or homosexuality.

Yet the character of Rebecca and her own, highly possible and  most highly probable bisexuality, puts du Maurier herself closer to the title role than any other in her story.

Rebecca's revolutionary idea of an "open marriage" in every sense of the word, a concept then way ahead of its time?!

Her husband's complete inability to deal with it and his profoundly "bourgeois" justifications for murdering her, shooting her dead with a gun?!

Who then are the victims and the victimizers in this novel?

Everyone!

Every main character becomes both victim and victimizer.

The greatness of tragedy is the terrifying and inevitably pity-ridden sense of its inevitability!

Rebecca demands far greater reexamination as a tragedy than even Shakespeare's Othello.

Why?

The play of Othello is unquestionably and undeniably a melodrama with a villain so unapologetically vile he, Iago, still rattle's the shelves in history's library of villains.

On the other hand, the major characters in Rebecca, none of them outright villains or villainesses, could do nothing else but what they did do!!

That is tragedy!

Exceptionally well-constructed tragedy!!

However Daphne du Maurier was apparently the author of only one great novel: Rebecca.

As someone who knows much of her work writes: "None of her other books match up to Rebecca, in my opinion, but I still enjoy reading them. I hope to get through all her books eventually too – I think I've read about half of them now."

Daphne du Maurier is the only part of a "Progressive Vision" that I can identify with.

Its socialist economics, pro-Radically Islamic insanity and support from neo-Soviets such as Vladimir Putin? Incidentally Putin would have abhorred du Maurier's bisexuality!

The Progressive Left will most predictably betray its gay and lesbian followers.

Why? The same tyrannical, radically Islamic soul that disseminates anti-Semitic hatred -- and Hitlerian Iran's allies such as Vladimir Putin's neo-Soviet Russia -- must, by the nature of its evil, eventually become anti-gay and anti-lesbian.

The moment the gay and lesbian community wake up to the lies they've been fed by the Left? That will be the moment the world's "alternate life styles" realize the true meaning of "American individual freedom".

I suspect the eternal soul of Daphne du Maurier is calling out from heaven with precisely that message! ESR

Michael Moriarty is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor who starred in the landmark television series Law and Order from 1990 to 1994. His recent film and TV credits include The Yellow Wallpaper, 12 Hours to Live, Santa Baby and Deadly Skies. Contact Michael at rainbowfamily2008@yahoo.com. He can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/@MGMoriarty.

 

 

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