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Rebecca on Netflix: What does the ending mean?

The famous novel Rebecca has been adapted as a film for Netflix starring Lily James

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Rebecca, originally a gothic novel by Daphne du Maurier, has been given a stylish update by Netflix.

The psychological thriller stars Lily James as newlywed Mrs de Winter, and Armie Hammer as wealthy widower turned groom Maxim.

After a whirlwind romance in Monte Carlo, Maxim whisks his new wife away to his family estate on the English coast.

She’s heartbroken, however, as a result of Mrs Danvers’ unwavering loyalty to Maxim’s late wife Rebecca.

The drama is currently available to watch on Netflix and at select cinemas, just in time for Halloween – but fans already have questions…

***Warning: contains spoilers from the Netflix film Rebecca***

Lily James and Kristen Scott Thomas in Netflix's Rebecca
Kristin Scott Thomas as the frankly terrifying Mrs Danvers, opposite Lily James’ Mrs de Winter (Credit: Netflix)

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What is Netflix’s Rebecca about?

Rebecca follows a newlywed who finds herself living in the shadow of her new husband’s late wife, Rebecca de Winter.

Subsequently, Rebecca’s legacy and tragic death totally overshadow the new Mrs de Winter’s arrival at her husband’s imposing family estate Manderley.

The second Mrs de Winter consequently realises her husband is keeping secrets from her, and believes he is still in love with his first wife.

Mrs Danvers is the imposing housekeeper at Manderley, who has unwavering loyalty towards the first Mrs de Winter.

We soon learn that all is not as it seems…

Where is Manderley located?

Author Daphne du Maurier lived in Cornwall – and it’s thought Manderley was situated there too.

It’s an entirely fictional location set on the windswept English coast.

In reality, the Manderley scenes were filmed on Cranborne Manor in Dorset.

Lily James and Armie Hammer in Rebecca on Netflix
Lily James as Mrs de Winter and Armie Hammer as Maxim de Winter in Netflix’s Rebecca (Credit: Kerry Brown / Netflix)

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What is Mrs de Winter’s first name?

The first Mrs de Winter is called Rebecca, and her haunting presence overshadows the drama – hence why the book and film are named after her.

Tellingly perhaps, we never learn the first name of the second Mrs de Winter.

As the narrator of the book, she is referred to as Mrs Van Hopper’s companion, until she becomes Maxim de Winter’s second wife.

What does the ending of Rebecca mean?

Mrs Danvers sets fire to Manderley at the end of the film as an act of revenge for the death of Rebecca.

We see her plummet into the sea to join Rebecca, a final act of love.

While this is an unhappy ending for Mrs Danvers and Rebecca – who has been murdered – it’s a happy ending for Maxim and his wife.

He has ‘gotten away with murder’ and the ghost of Rebecca is gone for good.

Mr and Mrs de Winter walk away from the ashes of Manderley free to start a new life.

Lily James and Armie Hammer in Rebecca on Netflix
Maxim and his second wife Mrs de Winter enjoy a kiss on the beach (Credit: Kerry Brown / Netflix)

Does the second Mrs de Winter die at the end?

The second Mrs de Winter does not die at the end.

She narrates the novel, mentioning that she is living abroad.

She says that she is living in a hotel, listening out for any news from England.

Mrs de Winter is finally free from the memory of Maxim’s first wife Rebecca, therefore Maxim is too.

Who set Manderley on fire?

Mrs Danvers sets Manderley on fire at the end of the film, seemingly as an act of revenge against Maxim.

She hates Maxim for moving on from Rebecca and marrying again.

She’s furious that her attempts to break up the marriage between Maxim and Mrs De Winter fail.

She tells Rebecca: “He killed the only person I loved. I can’t let him keep Manderley.”

Lily James in Rebecca on Netflix
Lily James plays struggling newlywed Mrs de Winter in the new adaptation of Rebecca (Credit: Netflix)

Who killed Rebecca?

Maxim de Winter killed his wife in a blind rage at her adultery.

First of all, we’re told that Rebecca drowned in a sailboat accident.

We later learn the truth after divers discover a sunken boat which contains Rebecca’s body.

Maxim confesses to his new wife that he hated Rebecca and she was a serial adulterer.

Before she died, she told Maxim she was pregnant – but not with his child.

In a fit of anger, Maxim shot his wife and sunk her body in a boat.

Rebecca was diagnosed with terminal cancer before her death and was not pregnant.

Why did Maxim kill his first wife?

Maxim killed Rebecca after she told him she was carrying her lover’s child.

She taunted him that he would have to raise the child as his own to keep up appearances.

Finally, Maxim snapped at his adulterous wife, shooting her dead.

Rebecca is currently available to watch on Netflix and at select cinemas.

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