While I was watching Alfred Hitchcock’s version of ‘Rebecca‘, this Saturday night, I recalled the novel by Daphne du Maurier that I read when I was 12. That was heavy writing for my 12-year-old mind and to this day I can’t seem to synthesize the number of emotions that I went through while reading it and long after it was over. It made my then novice state of thoughts twist and tumble in my sweet creative vision that had just started to imagine everything will get a happy ending. It made a young reader like me believe that romanticism is the justification for every wrong occurrence in life. Moving toward the movie, realised that my young mind was so deeply impressed with the thoughts implanted at the age that while watching the movie at 40 even could not start with my romantic inclination of the thriller. Even today I was justifying to myself that the wrong that happened in the movie (i.e. murder of ‘Rebecca by the hero Maxim) is superseded by the human and romantic side of the characters. My idea of a happy ending has not loosened in strength even today as I was snuggled under my blanket in the wintery night. Despite knowing the story, I was somehow praying myself hard to let the hero free and be with the young heroine in their happy ending. However, my rational 40-year-old was constantly opposing the idea. She was trying to tell that the protagonist has done something wrong and needs to be punished. The end is not somehow justified in that he goes free and leads a happy life with his new wife while having the murder of his first wife (however negative she may be) on his hands.
Let me rewind! Let us turn back the wheels and maybe you can all peek with me into what ‘Rebecca’ was all about. So, this 1938 novel was written with a young woman whose name is not known, in mind. The story starts with her being married to a rich widower (classically powerful, charming, and intimidating). The young woman however realises that he and his household, both are haunted by ‘Rebecca’, his first wife who died. The whole novel revolves around the young woman’s journey to compete with a ghost and the truth behind her death.
Besides the intrigue in the movie, my thoughts shift towards the concept of justification of our demons. While watching the movie I realised what if we as individuals are faced with situations where our integrity is compromised, however, the cause for which we take drastic measures is noble. Does it justify our actions? Do we consider the consequence to be justified and put in the bracket of good deeds? Does our action justify our means? It is a concept that must answer to human illusions. The movie like any other of Hitchcock’s captivating geniuses was a masterpiece. It created a haunting scenario throughout with its captivating suspense and gothic thrills but in no way is it a horror movie. The suspense and successful creation of a strange eerie atmosphere are commendable.
This eeriness continues to creep within me when I look back at the time when it was more of a romantic novel for my young self, and I am astonished to recall how could I not absorb the mystery of human actions and emotions. Perhaps my young mind could only fathom so much and for me, it was more of romance that was created and exaggerated by the chaotic feelings it left with me after I was done reading. When the hero of the film, ‘Maxim de Winter’ explained to young Mrs De Winter why he hated Rebecca so much by saying, “I was carried away by her, enchanted by her, as everyone was. And when I was married, I was told that I was the luckiest man in the world. She was so lovely, so accomplished, so amusing.” His quote resonated so well with my thoughts at 12 where I was carried away by the novel, enchanted by it! I was sure everyone who read it thought the same since everything about it was so “accomplished”! Lying on my thinking couch the idea seemed to be so trivial but back at the age of 12, to a girl with her heart in her eyes and her mind in chaos because of the weird notions of romantic justice, his actions more than justified his thoughts. Even today while watching the film after such a gap I feel restless that my rationality overpowers my emotions. My heart still wants to justify the end, but my practicality says otherwise.
My question here is do our emotions have enough power to cloud our judgements? Does the idea of perfection manage to lure us out of our rationality? Should there be a divide between our sense of judgement and taking of particular action out of our emotional turmoil? Is it right to bottle our demons up or is there a great need to talk and discuss this bottle of demons that stay rolling in our minds? We talk about the forbidden but at the same time we shun the discussions regarding ‘who or what shall not be named’. It is revealing to see how the concept or the actions can be a part of the discussion and not the doer of those actions. We tend to attach so many emotions and relations with the perpetrator that many times the wrong that is done end up becoming a mere figment of imagination. It takes the shape of a fantasy that is only discussed as a fabled myth of the romantic illusion of human psychology. When you and me or more like us, feel only the superficial emotiveness running through our veins, we forget that there is a harsh reality behind the façade. The so-called physical beauty and soft emotions like love and romanticism take over the harsh rationality of our minds. We then bottle these demons and leave them dangling around our neck as a magical locket that when gets broken lets that demon out with full gusto but by that time it is too late for us to pick up the pieces and bring them that bottle back into the original shape.
Feature Image attribution: “© 1939 by United Artists Corporation.”, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons