Ah, Mrs. Danvers. Your sneaky and evil ways are so sneaky and evil that Stephen King, master of horror, gave you a shout-out in Bag of Bones. You even have a band named after you. Mrs. Danvers, Mrs. Danvers. You are so conniving that I can’t help but love you.
The intriguing Mrs. Danvers is the head housekeeper and main antagonist of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, a novel set in the magnificent, stately and unsettling estate of Maxim de Winter, a wealthy widow who was once married to the titular character, but now has a new wife (the novel’s unnamed narrator). Mrs. Danvers, ever-faithful to Rebecca, doesn’t take too kindly to the new Mrs. de Winter and sets about to make the woman’s life a living hell.
Perhaps you’re at a similar station in life, wherein you feel the need to psychologically torture the new wife of your cold, wealthy employer as you fuss about in his oversized English mansion. If so, here are a few tips:
Develop OCD. Mrs. Danvers insists that every room in Manderley remain just as Rebecca left it. Even the stationery still has her initials on it. If anyone tries to move anything, nag and berate their ungrateful hides until they cower and run.
Oh, you’ve moved her brush, haven’t you? There, that’s better. Just as she always laid it down.
Make humiliating fashion recommendations. When the new wife can’t decide on what to wear to the grand masquerade ball, kindly suggest that she wear the same costume that the first wife wore the year before. But don’t tell her the first wife wore said costume—let her announce herself to the party, dressed in a dead woman’s dress. When she finally musters up courage to tell you off, take the opportunity to remind her why she sucks:
I watched you go down just as I watched her a year ago. Even in the same dress you couldn’t compare. You thought you could be Mrs. de Winter, live in her house, walk in her steps, take the things that were hers! But she’s too strong for you. You can’t fight her – no one ever got the better of her. Never, never.
Be a creeper. Develop a strange infatuation with the dead wife, then tell the second wife all about it—as much and as often as possible.
You wouldn’t think she’d been gone so long, would you? Sometimes, when I walk along the corridor, I fancy I hear her just behind me. That quick light step, I couldn’t mistake it anywhere. It’s not only in this room, it’s in all the rooms in the house. I can almost hear it now.
Show the dead wife’s underwear to the new wife.
Did you ever see anything so delicate? Look, you can see my hand through it!
Open a window to give the new wife some fresh air, then suggest she jump out of it. Act like you’re concerned about the new wife (“Madam, you’re overwrought!”) and quietly recommend some fresh air. Once the window’s open, say something subtle like this:
I’ve opened a window for you. Why don’t you go? Why don’t you leave Manderley? He doesn’t need you. He’s got his memories. He doesn’t love you, he wants to be alone again with her. You’ve nothing to stay for. You’ve nothing to live for really, have you? Look down there. It’s easy, isn’t it? Why don’t you? Why don’t you? Go on. Go on. Don’t be afraid.
Play with matches. I won’t give away the ending, but let’s just say, you can take the heat when you want people out of Rebecca’s kitchen.