“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”
This is the opening line to one of my all-time favorite mysteries—Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I have re-read this book many times. It is the ultimate story of how we keep ourselves from true happiness by building our own walls of anxiety, uncertainty, self-doubt and fear.
The main character in the plot is actually not Rebecca, but a nameless heroine who would never think of herself in such a way.
She is a young, painfully shy woman who marries Maxim, a mature, wealthy man with a deep, dark secret. Our heroine, who sees herself as plain, feckless, and worthless, believes that Maxim’s secret is that he’s still in love with his deceased wife, Rebecca. But the truth is very far from this.
I won’t spoil the plot for those who wish to read the book.
One of the many things I love about du Maurier’s story is how she tenderly deals with the range of negative and self-defeating emotions that can keep us from our dreams. It’s one of those books where I deeply sympathize with the heroine, having felt many of the same doubts.
As the plot deepens, and the secret is revealed, there is a pivotal point–not only in the story, but in what I consider to be the main theme in this book: self-confidence.
A particular passage late in the book illustrates this. The words are the thoughts of our main character:
“I wondered how many people there were in the world who suffered, and continued to suffer, because they could not break out from their own web of shyness and reserve, and in their blindness and folly built up a great distorted wall in front of them that hid the truth. This is what I had done. I had built up false pictures in my mind and sat before them. I had never had the courage to demand the truth. Had I made one step forward out of my own shyness Maxim would have told me these things months ago.”
This is powerful stuff.
I believe that, just like this nameless, shy woman, we (especially women) build great walls of distortion around ourselves that keep us from our dreams. We mistake our feelings for facts. We hesitate, procrastinate, and often downright refuse to open our eyes as to how truly amazing we are, and how wonderful our lives could be.
Daphne du Maurier wrote Rebecca in 1938—76 years ago.
It is time for us to break down our walls and go after our dreams.
It is time to write a new story—one of courage, confidence, and success!
Copyright 2014 Michelle Kerrigan
Rebecca copyright 1938 by Daphne du Maurier Browning