Saturday, September 5, 2009

Gone with the Wind

I just finished Gone with the Wind and thought I would throw up some thoughts about it while they were still fresh. I had seen the movie years ago as a child and never really understood what the movie was about though as I read bits and parts of the movie came back to me. I think for me the overall theme of Gone with the Wind is not only the love between Scarlett and Rhett but also a love story about the south as it once was. Much of the book is a history lesson on the ravages of the Civil War on the south and in many ways I feel that the Old South is as much as a character in the book as the people. One of the best parts I think of the book is the depth of character development Mitchell does. Since the book is well over a thousand pages she has time to change the characters slowly and in many ways the South changes in the same way. Since the book is so long and there is so much to it I thought I would break down my thoughts into the four main characters of the book: Scarlett, Rhett, Melanie, and Ashley. All of them leave an indelible mark in the book.

Scarlett- Scarlett is the narrator of the book. At the start of the book she comes off willful, spoiled, and used to getting her way. When her heart is crushes she runs headlong into a unwanted marriage at the same time the Civil War really begins. Throughout the book as the south gets ravished by war Scarlett is forced out of her pampered coddled world into something harsher and rougher then she has ever known. Instead of foundering though she rallies and gathers her wits and strengths to secure her home and those she loves. This however has a price as she becomes a calculating and more determined while showing a great deal of brightness and intelligence in desperate times. While Scarlett is not my favorite character you see the world through her eyes and thus I do find myself admiring her pluck and gumption when faced with such hardships as war. She is certainly not the most lovable character but she is a real one with human flaws that we have all have and at her heart I feel she does have the best intentions.

Rhett- For me Rhett Butler is the soul of Gone with the Wind. Since his arrival briefly at the start of the book my entire time reading was spent waiting for his appearances. His wit, charm, and devil may care attitude as well as the image of Clark Gable makes him absolutely swoon worthy even if his character is at times a bit of a cad. As it is his love for Scarlett is plain to see for everyone, save Scarlett, and that in itself is the beauty of his character. Understanding Scarlett's nature with men he always dangles his affection right above her head in a way that she misses it completely even as he stands throwing it at her time and time again. Rhett propels the story in my mind and the times where he is not there are spent longing for his return. In the end despite some bad behavior I do think he is a gentlemen understanding the Southern notion of loyalty when the matters are most high.

Melanie- Melanie is the character that at the start of the book I merely tolerated and absolutely loved at the end. Melanie is the kindest sweetest girl you will ever met but at the start of the book that seems to be all she is. Weak physically and overly sweet and kind she lacked depth of character until a pivotal moment in the book which I won't say to spoil things. From that moment on you see Melanie's strength and fortitude of character lies beneath the surface of her calm demeanor and while not seen often when dire times come the strength she carries is immeasurable. Because the book is seen through Scarlett's eyes you don't even fully realize the beauty that is Melanie's character until the very end of the book. The loyalty and love she gives to the ones closets to her heart is a testament to the fact that those quiet and meek can carry a fire and toughness that outshines the rest.

Ashley- Ashley's character was one that I was quite puzzled at for a while. The object of Scarlett's love Ashley is a very quite unassuming person throughout the beginning of the book. Seen as the essential Southern boy with a head for books and literature he is the man of Scarlett's dreams. For much of the book I felt that this love of Ashley Scarlett had was simply in her own mind as Ashley's character seemed to not even really notice or care for her. One scene in the book, one of the most powerful and passionate in my mind, changed that view for me and made Ashley a character in the background so far for me spring into life. In the end Ashley is the character most closely tied to Old southern ways. After the war, he like the south, is unable to let go and adapt to the changing world around them. He lives in the old ways which no longer match up to the quickly changing world around him. I think Rhett said it best when he described Ashley as "A gentleman caught in a world he doesn't belong in trying to make the poor best of it by the rule's of the world that's gone" In the end there is nothing but pity for this lost man and the world he misses so dearly.

Lastly I conclude with some additional thoughts. Truly this book opened my eyes to the Civil War and the effects and ramifications it had on the people of the south. Not being from the South myself it was a very interesting glimpse into their lives seeing their value of honor, loyalty, and family above all else. While its been hundreds of years since this war and modern times have certainly changed us all I can now see the remnants of this world gone past. While much as changed some of its charm will never fade away.


  1. Thanks for coming by. I looked at getting a King Charles a few years ago-but we are not home enough for them. My first cat came to me as a stray and then she had an unfortunate accident which is how I ended up getting the twins from a rescue center. But my first one introduced me to cats as I had never spent any time with them before.

  2. Do stop by please-I have an award for you.