MRS. DE WINTER: How could we be close when I knew you were always thinking of Rebecca? How could I even ask you to love me when I knew you loved Rebecca still?
MAXIM DE WINTER: What are you talking about? What do you mean?
MRS. DE WINTER: Whenever you touched me, I knew you were comparing me with Rebecca. Whenever you looked at me or spoke to me, or walked with me in the garden, I knew you were thinking, “This I did with Rebecca, and this, and this.” It’s true, isn’t it?
MAXIM: You thought I loved Rebecca? You thought that? I hated her!
MRS. DE WINTER: I…literally of course I thought that you loved her.
MAXIM: Well, I didn’t. I hated her real bad.
MRS. DE WINTER: Why in God’s hell would you act surprised that I thought you loved your first wife, given that you have displayed absolutely zero indication to the contrary to me, ever?
MAXIM: Well, you know, I guess we just crossed wires on that one. But rest assured that I hated her from the get-go, and have only ever loved you.
MRS. DE WINTER: How did we cross wires?
MRS. DE WINTER: Crossed wires would suggest that at some point you tried to communicate the truth to me and I misunderstood. When, before this actual moment, have you ever said to me anything like “By the way, my beautiful dead wife, of whom everyone speaks so fondly and whose praises I have never once contradicted, I did not love at all, while you, the terrified woman I alternately ignore or berate, I love a whole bunch, which I choose to demonstrate by refusing to put her mind at ease telling by her literally never about how depraved and evil my dead wife was?
MAXIM: I –
MRS. DE WINTER: That would have been a five-minute conversation.
MAXIM: I suppose I thought you would just sort of…pick up on it, I guess. I’m always brooding about it.
MRS. DE WINTER: Surely even you must admit that “silently brooding about hatred” looks an awful lot like “silently brooding about a lost love,” to the untrained eye.
MAXIM: I hadn’t thought of it that way.
MRS. DE WINTER: You bring me back to the house you shared with her, you spend all of four seconds getting me acquainted with running a massive country estate, you leave me with a squadron of Rebecca’s beloved, devoted old servants who spend half their time ominously reminding me of how beautiful she was while dusting her old bedroom, which you have allowed to be turned into an actual shrine, and also the one time I asked you if I made you happy, you said you didn’t know what happiness was.
MAXIM: All right. All right. From that perspective, I admit, things look…unclear.
MRS. DE WINTER: That’s what Prince Charles said on the day of his engagement to Princess Diana, by the way.
MAXIM: No. Really? That bad?
MRS. DE WINTER: The interviewer asked them if they were in love after they announced their engagement, and Diana chirps out, “Of course!” and Charles pulls the rug out from under her immediately with “Whatever in love means.”
MRS. DE WINTER: Yes. So.
MAXIM: I suppose that it was a completely normal conclusion for you to draw, then, that I was still in love with Rebecca, given that I never told you anything about her
MRS. DE WINTER: Thank you.
MAXIM: Also, just to reiterate, she died by accident. By a violent blow to the head, during a vicious quarrel the two of us were having, after which I disposed of her body. But the dying itself, that was an accident. Her head fell on a rock. Right here, in this boat house, where by pure happenstance you and I happen to be having a quarrel right now ourselves.
MRS. DE WINTER: Mmm.
MAXIM: You believe me, don’t you, darling? That it was an accident?
MRS. DE WINTER: I’ve never said anything to indicate otherwise, have I?
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.