Literary Ladies #4: Elizabeth &… Not… Rebecca?

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Literary Ladies is my weekly series where I nerd out for a bit & imagine my favorite literary heroines into the modern world. Email me your suggestions or leave a comment below!

This week, I’m featuring a personal (and by all accounts popular) favorite, Elizabeth Bennett of Pride & Prejudice; & a forlorn, nameless character from the 1938 classic Rebecca: the Second Mrs. de Winter.

I know Pride has been made over (again and again), and, like our dear friend Bridget, I am in love with Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy. What hasn’t been done is a modern-day equivalent, complete with couture:

I chose Michelle Williams to play my 2009 (!!) Elizabeth, number one because she’s not polished-pretty, she’s sort of haunting. I think her intelligence & ferocity on screen would fit perfectly with Elizabeth’s fiery character. Plus, silly Lizzy would be a departure from her recent roles. Most important for Elizabeth is her diary/sketchbook, fountain pen, and set of brightly-colored inks. She’d choose a dark dress, in case of a spill, and dress it up with a daring belt of plum leather & mottled feathers. She’d wear delicate, unique jewelry, layering silver with gold. A pile of gunmetal & crystal bracelets complement her raincloud-colored suede ankle boots. Yes, Elizabeth Bennett is cool enough to pull of a dress and ankle boots. I’m jealous.Everyone wants to be Lizzy, especially at the end!

*****

Rebecca is a novel about a ghost, so the protagonist of this story doesn’t bear that name; in fact, the protagonist of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca is never named at all! She’s referenced academically as ‘the Second Mrs de Winter;’ the title character, the ghost Rebecca being the first. I’ll call her #2. Irreverent, but brief. Natalie Portman was the obvious choice in my mind to play this nameless demi-victim: she’s tiny, and can appear childlike. Maxim de Winter, her dangerous husband, the evil & manipulative maid Mrs. Danvers, and the rocky, cliff-lined coast where Manderley stands must all overwhelm the easily intimidated #2.

#2’s things would be newly acquired: she was very poor when she met Maxim, working as a companion for an old woman on a steamliner. (In 2009, I’d have her acting as a PCA worker, maybe accompanying an ageing actress on a trans-Atlantic flight.) She needs to wear diminutive colors, to show how inferior she feels to Rebecca, Maxim’s revered first wife. She’d have to bundle tight against the bracing cold of the English oceanside, wrapping up in a long cashmere trench and a elegant pashmina scarf. She’d wear sparkly jewelry, and obsess about who had owned it before her. I picture Natalie walking around Rebecca’s shrine of a bedroom, touching her slim gold tubes of lipstick & every crystal-topped perfume. The painting came with them, a reminder of their past & what was left on the docks at Manderley.

Next week’s post will feature some of the suggestions I got from around the internets this week, so stay tuned.

Love & a big, crisp apple,
Catherine

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2 Responses to “Literary Ladies #4: Elizabeth &… Not… Rebecca?”

  1. Don’t forget to watch… « new england noir Says:

    […] tuned for this week’s Literary Ladies, which will be posted this evening when I get home from work. We’re already at #5, can you […]

  2. Literary Ladies #5: Clare & Hester « new england noir Says:

    […] Ladies #5: Clare & Hester By newenglandnoir Literary Ladies is my weekly series where I nerd out for a bit & imagine my favorite literary heroines into the […]

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