Margaret Mitchell

Gone with the Wind (1936)

 

Margaret Mitchell (1900-1949)

      Born Atlanta, Georgia, to a lawyer father and a suffragette mother.

      Attended Smith College then returned to Atlanta living a wild life-style.

      Received the Pulitzer Price for Gone with the Wind in 1937.

Gone with the Wind (1936)

A startling thought this, that a woman could handle business matters as well as or better than a man, a revolutionary thought to Scarlett who had been reared in the tradition that men were omniscient and women none too bright.

      In 1861, Southern Belle Scarlett O’Hara lives in a large plantation in Tara, Georgia amid her many suitors but sets her heart of Ashley Wilkes who then marries Melanie Hamilton.

      Confessing her love to Ashley and hearing him admit his love to her but his choice of Melanie as she is more like him, Scarlett is overheard by Rhett Butler.

      Charles Hamilton proposes to Scarlett and she accepts hoping to entice Ashley’s jealousy.

      Charles dies during the war but Scarlett gives birth to their son Wade.

      Bored with her life, she moves to Atlanta with Melanie where busy city life attracts her.

      She meets Rhett there and he begins tormenting her but also encouraging her to throw away the widow’s attire and manner typical of the South.

      Ashley’s taken to prison as the war ends and Scarlett wants to return home but for the promise she made Ashley to take care of his pregnant wife.

      Melanie gives birth the night the Yankees set Atlanta on fire. Rhett helps them escape but lets them finish the journey to Tara alone as he joins the Confederate army.

      Arriving to Tara, she finds her mother dead, her father senile, and their plantation looted. She builds it back up.

      With the increase of taxes on their plantation, Scarlett sets out to ask Rhett for money, only to find that he is in prison.

      Her plans change and she marries her sister’s beau Frank to save the plantation.

      Shortly after, Rhett sends her some money and she becomes a successful businesswoman.

      She convinces Ashley and Melanie to move to Tara with her.

      She gives birth to Ella, Frank’s child.

      Attacked by a freed black, Scarlett is avenged by the KKK but Frank dies during the events.

      Scarlett marries Rhett and has a child from him. Rhett, protect his daughter from being an outcast like her mother, begins a campaign to win the friendship of the Atlanta citizens.

      Rhett loses interest in Scarlett around the same time that she realizes her love for Ashley is over and she actually loves Rhett. So she moves back to Tara for the support of her childhood nurse and slave Mammy.

More:

As the South changes, gender roles and class/race divisions become blurred.

Ashley represents the Old South with its traditional, unchangeable values while Rhett functions within both old and new. (Scarlett’s “Tomorrow is another day” is a returning line in the novel, demonstrating Scarlett’s hope and trust in the future rather than the past)

Unlike most Civil War novels, this one glorifies the South while demonizing the North.

Unique in its presentation of an independent strong woman as the protagonist.

For using Rhett’s line “My dear, I don’t give a damn” taken from the last pages of the novel, the movie director was fined $5,000 for the use of profanity.