Thursday, May 24th, 2012

'Gone With The Wind': Devil In A Black Bombazine Dress

And here we come, at last, to the selection closest to my dark and twisty heart, Margaret Mitchell's hideous bitch-goddess of a novel, Gone With the Wind. It's awful! It's wonderful! It's Marlboro Reds. Apparently, in a 2008 poll, it clocked in at second place (behind The Bible) as the favorite book of the American people. If that doesn't explain your local news reports, what will?

I'd love to be able to say, as one does about C.S. Lewis, "oh, I didn't get the super-offensive subtext about how Muslims inadvertently worship a flaming devil-beast, even though Jesus will still consider taking them to heaven so long as they don't also have normal teenage yearnings for boys and lipstick." This is not that. The things that are horribly, terribly wrong with Gone With the Wind are not even given a thin patina of lion-based allegory. It's all right there to see. Mitchell just plain doesn't like black people. Or, well, doesn't like black people who might have their own desires and wants and needs and agendas and inner lives and historical memories and dreams and green-sprigged muslin dresses with stains you could probably cover up with a brooch, but what if Melanie has sharp eyes?

At this point, it would be fun to segue into THAT BEING SAID, THE DRESSES! THE PARTIES! THE LUSSSST! Obviously. It's a tremendously entertaining book, and it's beautifully written. I'm certainly never going to write a book as good as Gone With The Wind. And we're absolutely going to get to the dresses! parties! lust! stuff, but let's just take another minute first to say: this is kind of a fucked-up thing, this book. And it's perfect for young teenage girls, because it could have been called: Gone With the Wind: The Triumph of the Self. This is a book of pure and perfect ego. I'm always saying that Scarlett is a sociopath, and she probably is, but I think that draws an artificial distinction between mental illness and the expression of unbridled self-will. Everyone likes survivors, as Scarlett so assuredly is, and likes to think of themselves as survivors, as though there was a real… alternative… to surviving. I mean, you can kill yourself, but apart from that, everyone just sort of muddles through as best they can, right? And let's not do the SCARLETT WAS ENSLAVED TOO… BY SOCIETY bit. I mean, sign me up, you know? The South was not full of Scarletts, whatever the weird plantation-wedding-industry would like us to believe. For every Scarlett there were a couple hundred Emmie Slatteries getting fed the same line of nonsense by the powers that be.

Okay. Dresses! Parties! Lust! Weren't those dresses fabulous? The black bombazine, too matronly, perhaps? The parties, even the lousy charitable parties to raise money for the pointless Cause (I guess we can give Mitchell some credit for making The Cause seem particularly pointless) were pretty boss. The lust: GOD, that scene when they're out by the pigpen and Ashley finally slips Scarlett some tongue is… pretty great. As is, um, the sort-of-rape, sort-of-not-rape night of ecstasy with Rhett. The characters pop, I'll give her that. When you think about alternative narrators, a la The Wind Done Gone, it's a long list. I'd happily read a Gone With the Wind from India Wilkes' perspective, or Melanie's, or Dilcey's, or Mammy's, or Carreen's…

Which leads us into this: are we supposed to like Scarlett? I always liked Scarlett, and I always wanted her to get the things she desired (and then, right, to be happy with those things once she had them, which seemed to be a bigger hurdle.) What's to like, when you think about it? She's a terrible friend, she's borderline illiterate, she's racist, she's violent, she's ungrateful, she wallows in minor bouts of regret for being such a shitty person once she's achieved her next aim, and she accepts expensive gifts from gentlemen without thinking of the consequences. (Just candy and flowers, darlings! Keep your virtue with you at all times!)

And, not to be all "I have a chiiiiiild now" about the whole thing, but WHAT ABOUT WADE AND ELLA? CHRIST ON A FUCKING CROSS. We all remember Bonnie, because she broke her neck, and had a bit of a personality (Margaret Mitchell did not seem like a kid-friendly individual, no?), but those sad, bland, dull children with dead fathers, dragged along behind her curtain-dresses and treated slightly less well than her ill-treated friends and acquaintances are far more tragic figures than smokin' hot twenty-eight year olds who went from being rich to very briefly poor to substantially richer over the course of a thousand pages. (I know, I know, her parents kicked it, which was very sad, and she had to wear black, which was uncomfortably hot, etc.)

If we weren't supposed to like Scarlett (duly punished at the end of the novel, as the proprieties insist), I have to imagine we wouldn't have Scarlett, the yeeeeeeesh authorized sequel, based entirely on the idea that no one wants to live in a world where Scarlett doesn't get Rhett back. Everyone knows she's going to get Rhett back in the end. She is, right? She has to. Come on.


• No, seriously, why didn't she just pick one of the damn Tartleton twins? Pleasant, devoted, rich, handsome, horsey… like upscale Weasley twins. TEAM STU.

• What's the uncanny valley on waist size like? At what point do you start looking "freakish" instead of "Jessica Rabbit"? I'm pretty sure it kicks in long before Scarlett's seventeen inches.

• Did/do you like Scarlett? Safe space. PLEASE, if you don't like her, let it all hang out. She's the worst!

• Will she get Rhett back? Or will she decide to just eat Ashley Wilkes for dinner, yet again?

• Ashley, Ashley, Ashley! GET IT TOGETHER, guy. Seriously. Right?

• Never having been south of the Mason-Dixon line, everything I know about the South comes from several college courses, this book, and Justified. What am I missing?

• Oh, the war! A war happens in this book. It's not the best part. Dresses! Which was your favourite dress?

• Did you like The Wind Done Gone? I have not heard great things.

• Melanie, guys. Was she for real, or what?

• Ellen O'Hara, guys. Was she for real, or what?

• Did anyone else picture Gerald as Ted Kennedy? I swear to God, I saw Ted Kennedy taking that fence on his horse every. single. time.

And for next time, let's pay tribute to the late Mike McGrady and do Naked Came the Stranger.

Previously: Wideacre and The Autobiography Of Henry VIII

Nicole Cliffe is the books editor of The Hairpin and the proprietress of Lazy Self-Indulgent Book Reviews.

161 Comments / Post A Comment

The Lady of Shalott (#233,017)


I hated The Wind Done Gone because I didn't care for the writing style. Rhett Butler's People was just unabashedly awful.

I don't want to get into the Politics of the South, Race, the War As Examined in GWTW because holy crap that could take up way too much space.

INSTEAD, DRESSES: The green-and-white barbeque dress! THE SLUTTY RED DRESS. The green velvet curtain dress! And like, I think the 17-inch waist is much more reasonable if you imagine Scarlett as a teeny-tiny lady, like 5'2 or under. Which I don't remember if it's described as such?

AND MELLIE!!! My favourite scene in the entire book is when the Yankee soldier comes to Tara and Scarlett shoots him–but Melanie was coming down the stairs with a sword ready to kill him, too. And then everybody freaks out over the gunshot and Melanie is the one to come up with a really quick lie to deflect everyone's attention! I mean, Melanie was…you know, Melanie, but there was something in her, you know.

barnhouse (#1,326)

I love it, too. Also I think Mitchell was kind of equal-opportunity cruel to her characters, like Evelyn Waugh. A misanthropist really, rather than a racist. Who in this book escapes her censure? Nobody, really. Even St. Ashley Wilkes… I always thought he might have been in the closet. Mellie I guess but aren't you meant to be spending hundreds of pages shrieking at her to get a little gumption.

True, too, about the 17-inch waist. Dita von Teese used to be 16 inches in a corset, I remember reading.

Loved this writeup a lot. The only thing to add is that it is the most addicting novel I know of. More than Stephen King, even. If you're planning to read for the first time, you'll be up all night, so plan accordingly!!

jolie (#16)

@barnhouse You – like Scarlett – completely misunderstood Mellie. The point is that she ALWAYS had gumption, it just took us too long to realise it. COME ON. When she gives Scarlett her shimmy to bind up the dead Yankeee?? She came downstairs from her sickbed with a fucking SWORD, Maria.

Gumption. Mellie had it in spades. Just quiet, ladylike spades.

@jolie In her shimmy, yes, and she could barely lift the sword! Oh, and let's not forget the, like, 48 hours she spent in childbirth. I thought about that a lot when I was in labour. Like "Melanie did this without drugs, SO CAN YOU, especially since your doula is a lot more competent than Prissy or ScarHo."

barnhouse (#1,326)

The thing with Melanie is that she is strong for other people, and never thinks of herself. This is a lovable quality, to be sure. She is just like my own cousin, Teresa. Very lovable, and far better than oneself, but it is exasperating when such people are so very good, and others take them for granted, or take advantage.

synchronia (#3,755)

@barnhouse Agreed – I was always disappointed in Melanie and Ashley for not moving to New York when they could have.

themegnapkin (#201,538)

@jolie I love that scene with Melanie, and she was definitely stronger than Scarlett ever gave her credit for. But if running the plantation had been left to her instead of to Scarlett, they would have lost Tara to taxes and they all would have starved. Only Scarlett's single-minded ruthlessness saved them.

@barnhouse I am ALWAYS telling my mother to quit being a Mellie.

bitzyboozer (#6,867)

@themegnapkin Too true. Melanie Wilkes, the Ned Starke of Southern belles.

highjump (#11,044)

@The Lady of Shalott @Jolie Yes, Jolie, yes! There is a lovely description in the book of Melanie's inner mettle that I believe compares her to an elegant battle saber. I wish I could find it, the internet is failing me.

mlle.gateau (#233,309)

@Nicole Cliffe@facebook Mellie gets on my LAST NERVE. I have no patience for her mealy-mouthed ways. Yes, she attempt to be badass, but mostly she's spitefully sweet to her friend who's constantly macking on her husband, which is about as awful as it gets. I feel like maybe Scarlett would have backed the fuck off in Melanie had just laid her shit out.

It's not that Mellie's not nice, she's disgustingly nice and perfect, kind of like that Robyn chick on Sister Wives. Maybe I'm just so deeply mean that I can't imagine being as nice as Melanie so I feel like it's fake. SELF-REFLECTION!

jilt (#233,947)

@The Lady of Shalott @jolie That scene is definitely one of the best in the book for me. I also love the scene of them putting out the kitchen fire after the Yankees come back to Tara – I wish that one had been included in the movie.

This is why I love the Scarlett/Mellie relationship. I like to think that Scarlett loved Melanie for much longer than she realized it herself. Scarlett idolized Ellen, and Mellie was so similar to Ellen. Scarlett's lust for Ashley was just in the way, and Scarlett was never good at understanding others, or herself, until it was far too late. But there were all those little gestures she made without thinking about them – giving her hat to Mellie on the road to Tara, the extra food and last whole pair of shoes, calling out for Mellie during her miscarriage. And in return, Mellie defended her against society. Except for the worthless Ashley Wilkes, they were the perfect duo.

effystonem (#233,964)

@The Lady of Shalott OMG I totally bought Rhett Butler's People when Borders was going out of business…it was GROSS. So boring, and they bent over backwards to make Rhett this like Mary Sue character, a wholesome guy whose beliefs got him in trouble or something. And how he was super AWESOME to African-Americans, and hey, they were his friends! Obviously I'm not a fan of the racism in GWTW, but he is just like all the other Southerners in that book – using the "n" word, etc. That's the problem with writing about a character from a book from a long-ago age – shit just isn't PC anymore, but it feels fake to the character. Oy.

sevanetta (#14,222)

@The Lady of Shalott omg omg omg so awesome yay for discussion time of GWTW!

I was just saying this in another thread on the hairpin the other day, so I'm going to quote/paraphrase myself from there: Melanie is a fucking bitch. Everyone thinks she is Miss Suzy Fucking Sunshine, but a schemer lurks between the mild surface, ready to suck up to and play on others' emotions in order to safeguard her own interests.

I do really love Scarlett – I love her because she is flawed and bitchy and real. I think that because we get all her bitchy inner monologue, it's easy to miss that when things get difficult, many times she chooses to protect or work with Melanie rather than abandon her. and I think that reflects the true nature of their relationship – they weren't :friends:, they were sisters-in-law, and it was a very sisterly relationship. Obligation, tied together in many ways, very different but reliant/loyal to the other one in the difficult times. yes Scarlett would have stolen Ashley if she could, but she couldn't. So Melanie isn't as good as she appears, and Scarlett isn't as bad as she appears, and they balance well.

Ashley Wilkes is a wilting flower, I always wish that Scarlett would wise up years before to this!

The racism is bullshit of course and you have to wade through that :( I did like what someone said above about mitchell being a misanthrope, but still… awful.

lindy (#234,079)


Nah, Margaret Mitchell was definitely a racist. There's no getting around that. It can be said that she was a racist AND a misanthrope…but you definitely can't ignore the fact that she was a complete racist.

Olivia2.0 (#1,716)

The best dress is the ball gown she tries to wear as a day dress. I also enjoy how she's just painted as a harlot right off the bat. The best accessory is: the green hat Rhett brings her, and she puts on backwards, and Rhett's like oh, my poor darling, this war is terrible b/c it's deprived you of your fashion sense.

ALSO I HATE ASHLEY. WHY WHY WHY. And the actor who plays him is obvs perfect and only makes me hate him more. I just want to slap him.

Mellie is 100% "for real". Ellen O'Hara…I'll go with a solid 75%.

Hilarious: my fiance had never seen this movie (or read the book) until about 2 years ago, and I made him watch it. At the end he was like "I HAVE TOTALLY NEVER IDENTIFIED WITH THE 'TRADITIONAL AMERICAN MALE' IN AMERICAN CINEMA BEFORE NOW BUT RHETT BUTLER – I GET IT." It was really funny.

barnhouse (#1,326)

"the actor"?!!!!!!#? You have got some movies to watch, please!! Leslie Howard!! Oh boy. He was way too old to play Ashley Wilkes. In his mid-forties!! But you must see him in the flower of his beauty. The Petrified Forest, by gum. He is the best Scarlet Pimpernel we have had, though nowhere near what the book deserves (not his fault!) and he was very very good as Henry Higgins, too.

Olivia2.0 (#1,716)

@barnhouse hahahaa – yes he is only ever Ashley to me and I refuse to call him by his name.

highjump (#11,044)

@Olivia2.0 I have always wondered how Ellen would have dealt with Reconstruction. Probably in a very Melly-ish, dignified way.

melis (#1,854)

@Olivia2.0 Leslie Howard. Of Human Bondage. YA HOUNDED ME, YA DROVE ME CRAZY, AND AFTER YA KISSED ME, I ALWAYS USED TO WIPE MY MOUTH – WIPE MY MOUTH. Also he died a war hero in WWII, also he is perfect, also he is my 1940s boyfriend, he even beats Fred Astaire. LESLIE HOWARD.

@melis Of Human Bondage. ARGHHHHH.

barnhouse (#1,326)

@Nicole Cliffe@facebook @melis Leslie Howard is maybe why I had all those gay confused-sexuality boyfriends when I was a kid. Well. Leslie Howard, David Bowie, Bryan Ferry, David Sylvian and Richard Butler.

jolie (#16)

Consider this JUST THE FIRST (are we shouting? Yes we're obviously shouting.) of the HUNDREDS of comments I plan to leave on this post: how – HOW????? – can we discuss the rotten core of La Scarlett without mentioning Suellen and poor Mister Kennedy?? "Mah Mistah Kennedy! She stole mah Mistah Kennedy!"

(I mean Suellen was a righteous shit but she assuredly was devoted to old whisker britches or whatever terrible thing Scarlett called him.)

@jolie I always felt SO BAD for Frank, but then, people make their own TERRIBLE DECISIONS, right? Oh, Frank, you would have been happier with a little brown bird than a tropical parrot!

Olivia2.0 (#1,716)

And I will compete with you for highest percentages of comments b/c I LOVE THIS SO MUCH. Later tonight let's drink wine and discuss the horror that is Scarlett.

jolie (#16)

@Olivia2.0 I mean IT'S LOVING SHOUTING but still. I just feel REALLY STRONGLY AND PASSIONATELY about GWTW. If you all play nice I'll call home to ask my mom if she'll pull my college essay out of the accordion file folder she keeps on me (LOL lawyers)(it has my tiny ballet slippers in it!) and have Daddy scan it so I can post it on tumblr.

By which I mean I'll email to Nicole and be all, "UNDER THREAT OF DEATH BY BLEACH AND AMMONIA I AM SHARING THIS FYEO."


highjump (#11,044)

@jolie I would also be willing to share my freshman comp essay on GWTW and how bad-ass Scarlett is and how Margaret Mitchell being called home from college to take care of her idiot father when her mother died TOTALLY fueled the characterization of Scarlett, Ellen, and a bunch of other people.

I always felt so badly for Suellen and also INDIA and HONEY. Who were combined into one character for the movie! That is how sad and unpretty and old maidish they are. But the interactions between India and Scarlett are deliciously catty and get more and more so as the book goes on. AND back to Melanie and how she is awesome: SHE KICKS INDIA OUT OF HER HOUSE TO DEFEND ARCHIE. Determinedly sticking to standards that value what is important in people – Melanie Wilkes.

mlle.gateau (#233,309)

@jolie OMG, SUELLEN. That bitch. Here's the thing, she would have made Frank just as miserable as Scarlett did. I mean, Scarlett ran him ragged, but at least she got him rich or something. Suellen would have just killed him slowly with her whininess.

janiebee (#233,954)

@jolie I see your 'college papers' and raise you my college application essay! that's right – I (somehow?) got in to NYU by talking about Scarlett as my favorite heroine (could be from a book or a movie, I specified book). And I basically flat out said it was because she was a huge whiny bitch, who railed against the system in a believable way (ie. with moderately bad results). But who had a certain moral code she lived up to (ie. paying Aunt Pittypat a generous allowance, even when she wasn't swimming in it, not abandoning preggers Mellie in Atlanta, even though she really wanted to, making sure everyone got fed). I believe there was some jibber-jabber about her rejection of traditional tropes of womanhood, blah blah blah. Pretty much, I always liked Scarlett (as a literary figure) because she GOT THINGS DONE. And even though some (most) of her plans were pretty short-sighted, (Rhett being all 'stop getting married every time i turn my back for one second, you idiot, i have all the cash monies') she was the one doing them, you know?

lobsterhug (#66,323)

@janiebee Hmmm, maybe if my application essay about how The Mists of Avalon changed my life was more like this, I would have gotten into NYU. I believe it was mostly about learning tolerance and being open to new ideas or something. It worked on BU at least.

jolie (#16)

@janiebee I was unclear – it was my college admissions essay! Which got me into Barnard, so I guess the moral of the story here is that for anyone looking to go to a New York City school the trick is … to write about GWTW??

CharlotteCorday (#233,969)

@jolie Aaaaah I wrote about GWTW and it got me into Barnard too!!! Something about "never let them see you cry, sweat, or eat."

CharlotteCorday (#233,969)

@lobsterhug Mists of Avalon and GWTW! My fourteen year old self's two favorite books in one thread! Also honestly my 26 year old self's two favorite books. And seriously can we talk about how Mists of Avalon is legit a life changing book?? I just reread it last year and ughhhh god the world is so hard and sad.

lobsterhug (#66,323)

@CharlotteCorday I need to reread both of them! I started Mists last year but then gave it to my little sister (she loved it). Mists legit turned me into a teenage witch and I still toy with idea of getting a tatto of the moon symbol, just not on my forehead.

CharlotteCorday (#233,969)

@lobsterhug Yes omg I was totally a "Pagan" for like two years in high school. And when I say "god forbid" in my head it's still always "goddess forbid." And a moon tattoo is the best idea ever!!

Mr. B (#10,093)

You guys know all about The Birth of a Nation and how it was based on a turn-of-the-century romance called The Clansman, right? Well, the author of that book, a son of the South called Thomas Dixon, was still around when GWTW was published, and sent Margaret Mitchell a fan letter praising her accurate representation of Suthern Histry, and she responded with this fangirl thing about she totally grew up on his books.

noodlestein (#233,946)

@Mr. B – EW! That's…unfortunate.

Bittersweet (#765)

Ugh, I want to talk about what a beyotch Scarlett is, and TEAM MELANIE and all that (thanks, Jolie!) but I can't get past the 2nd paragraph. Do I have to explain about Susan again and how she's not dead and how it's not really about the nylons and lipstick?!?!?!? Nooooooooo…can't do it. Never mind.

Back to GWTW. I had a brief obsession with the book and the movie in high school (mostly because of Clark Gable), and even went so far as to buy a reproduction movie poster at a store in Georgetown. My friend, who was with me at the time, begged me to make sure it would never come out of the bag while we were in public, because she didn't want African-Americans to see it and automatically hate us. It was an eye-opening moment for me.

royaljunk (#233,939)

@Bittersweet Let's derail this conversation into Susan Pevensie feelings!
IDK, C.S. Lewis wrote a lot of awesome girl characters in CoN, but I can never decide if they're awesome because of him or in spite of him.

Bittersweet (#765)

@royaljunk Because of him, obvs, as he wrote them. Lewis' relationships with the women in his life were…um…*interesting* so it's great that there are such awesome girl characters in CoN. I love Lucy (of course – the Melanie of Narnia to Susan's Scarlett?) but my favorite is an unresolved eeny-meeny between Jill and Aravis.

@Bittersweet I am all about Jill and Aravis. BAMFs.

melis (#1,854)



royaljunk (#233,939)

@Bittersweet Lucy and Aravis are so great, and Jill is the ACTUAL BEST, though I do resent that line in Silver Chair about how men shouldn't let women tell them what to do or something along those lines. Narnia and I have a loving but complex relationship.

Bittersweet (#765)

@royaljunk Wasn't that line uttered by Rilian under his enchantment, when he's being a total tool and everyone hates him? And how great is Puddleglum, by the way? If you want some crazy Lewis men/women dynamics, read That Hideous Strength, holy cow.

@melis you know how much I love you, we will have to agree to disagree on this one…

missupright (#234,135)

@Bittersweet Oh, pleeeease do explain, I'm really curious. I've been hating him because of the Problem Of Susan (cf: Neil Gaiman) for EVER and I'd like an excuse not to. Or, you know, for sneakily making me read Christian propaganda without EVEN KNOWING IT.

Bittersweet (#765)

@missupright OK, so here’s my take on Susan. She’s a very interesting and complex character through the first two books, to the point where I can almost relate better to her than to Lucy. I see her doubts, her desire to be grownup, her practicality, her “listening to fears” as more like me than Lucy’s adventurous openness, friendliness, and straightforward bravery.

Her exclusion at the end of The Last Battle was originally a shock to me, but I never understood, as Phillip Pullman chose to interpret it, that her sexual maturation was “so dreadful and so redolent of sin that [Lewis] had to send her to Hell.” Rather it was that, in focusing so much on a need for social acceptance and the outward appearances of “being grownup,” Susan had forgotten, if not actively turned her back on, the important values of childhood that are also important in life. Courage, honesty, goodheartedness, willingness to stand up for what’s right. She is also not dead – Lewis made it clear in a letter to a young fan that she’s still alive at the end of the series and “there is plenty of time for her to mend, and perhaps she will get into Aslan’s country in the end – in her own way.”

I can see how you might see the entire Narnia series as “Christian propaganda,” but I choose to see it as allegory. And really, Lewis was so steeped in his religious beliefs that any fiction of his you pick up will have Christian themes in it, in some way or other. But as I came to Christianity as an adult (much like Lewis did), this doesn’t bother me as much as it might some.

I’d never read “The Problem of Susan” by Neil Gaiman and found it very interesting – the idea is a compelling one, and worth pondering. The nightmare at the end of the story I found disturbing…and gratuitous. But I can see how it would engender negative feelings about Lewis for you! His sexism annoys me sometimes, but I try to remember that he was a product of his time, and that it’s not worth dismissing all his work out of hand because we happen to disagree on a few matters.

jolie (#16)

Oh also, and this is IMPORTANT TO KNOW (it's not at all important to know, but allow me to indulge my inner Scarlett and make this all about meeeeeeeee): I am neither Team Scarlett or Team Melanie. I am Team Both Of Them. I feel like they represent my best and worst sides, and while I'm CONSTANTLY striving to be like Mellie (AaCP holla!) I fear I am waaaaaaaaay more like Scarlett (do you guys remember the time I got WICKED COMPETITIVE WITH A FRIEND over a brownie recipe? Yeah. I'm a Scarlett. A terrible, rotten, mean-to-my-very-core Scarlett. Sigh-dle-dee-dee.)

Bittersweet (#765)

@jolie I know what you mean, and I always strive to be more Melanie-like myself, but being competitive over brownies may not be quite the same as stealing husbands…

jhjhjhj (#7,025)

@jolie This sounds exactly like when I realized I was 1000X more Britta than Annie. (And being more "that way"…awful but fun, I guess? That's how I managed to steer this to ME)

But come on, you can easily replace Melanie and Scarlett as the Angel and Devil on your shoulders – or as reps of Ego and Id, however you want to run your duality. Melanie made me cry more, so there's that.

mlle.gateau (#233,309)

@jolie When I was younger, I totally identified with Scarlett and thought it was awesome and badass. Then I reread the book, realized I continue to identify with Scarlett, and kind of feel awful about being so mean. PERSONAL GROWTH.

@jolie It's the old Betty vs. Veronica conundrum. You know you're supposed to aspire to Betty's virtuous example, but it's Veronica who has all the fun. And really, without Scarlett/Veronica's selfish hijinx these literary works would be plotless and undramatic.

City_Dater (#2,500)

Scarlett is a horrible human being, which is why this book is so damn fascinating. I was probably 11 when I read it for the first time and her absolute lack of empathy for anyone but herself was breathtaking. Mellie's weird denial of this sociopathy was my first inkling that there might be Mean Girls with Magical Powers and Accepting Entourages in the adult world too. To this day, I enjoy a good antihero tale because of this book.

But yeah, Margaret Mitchell was NUTS.

barnhouse (#1,326)

But Scarlett loves Melanie, though. It's her saving grace, basically.

Pandemic Endemic (#3,825)

@City_Dater Sometimes I think that Scarlett truly cares about her sister-in-law, but sometimes I think that what Scarlett truly cares about is the proximity to Ashley that sister-in-law's existence ensures. It seems like whenever Scarlett is faced with an opportunity to ditch Mel she remembers the promise she made to Ashley before he ran off to war, which was to look after Mel for him.

JanieS (#228,605)

A) I think Melanie must have been some sort of robot.

B) Scarlett is AWFUL

C) … I kind of have a soft spot for Scarlett, because of the Ireland parts with the witch and the palatial mansion and the EVIL DEVIL CHILD WITH GREEN EYES etc. etc.

JanieS (#228,605)

@JanieS Also the haunted watchtower that makes the perfect playhouse for a toddler, OBVIOUSLY.

janiebee (#233,954)

@JanieS Ugh I'm a day late on this but YES. And Scarlett eating the plate of sandwiches in her room that is supposed to signal to her lover to come by and the lady who is making her famous just sort of cackling with glee because it adds that certain "air of mystery"

and Rhett being all "forget about the cat! your house is being burnt down because they think you're a witch" and Scarlett is like "that cat is your DAUGHTER". just… fantastic.

janiebee (#233,954)

@JanieS oh and also, I like your name. lets be friends!

lobsterhug (#66,323)

@JanieS That is the only part of Scarlett that I remember, besides Scarlett and Rhett almost drowning and having survival sex on the beach.

effystonem (#233,964)

@lobsterhug GUH the survival sex. So funny. I read this in high school, and even then I was like…what is happening?

I did like the parts about how all her Irish relatives were like, "Whoa, you are a BAMF, you can be head of our family." Awesome.

Samantha (#11,171)

Loved, loved this book. Read it for the first time, probably inappropriately, when I was 11 and stuck in a whirlwind Civil War historical fiction phase. (This was preceded by a WWII history phase and followed by a torrid affair with Mary Higgins Clark's novels…) Then I became ridiculously obsessed with the movie. The dresses! So many dresses! And hoop skirts! And Scarlett dancing with Rhett when she was supposed to be in mourning! I'm pretty sure that if I could get married in some version of Scarlett's wedding gown, I would.

lobsterhug (#66,323)

@Samantha This was probably the last book I read in my Civil War fiction phase. Nothing could possibly beat it. And I also had an affair with Mary Higgins Clark! My favorite was the one about the girl with multiple personalities. Her books immediately lost their appeal for me once I figured out her formula for who the bad guy was. (Hint: it was always the one you least suspect!)

MollyculeTheory (#4,519)

Aaah I read this in maybe 5th grade, when I was too young/innocent to really get the Holy Institutionalized Racism, and the sociopathy of the heroine, and wow was it different reading it as an adult!

Fun Fact: My great-great-(great?)-grandmother worked with Margaret Mitchell at the Atlanta Journal Sunday Magazine! She went on to write the most ridiculous cookbook ever. "Put in proper oven, cook until done." !!!

amandalovemovies (#233,910)

Wrote a post about how Scarlett is the biggest friendemy of all time

xinez (#233,918)

I love Scarlett.
1) At age 12, I loved her because she had green eyes (I HAVE GREEN EYES) and she was a sassy manipulative bitch.
2) Older me loves her because for all her manipulation and gumption, she finally realizes that she's screwed herself over. She doesn't get what she wants in the long run. She realizes that she's so GD dumb that she didn't understand that Ashley is a whiny depresso limp dick, Melanie is her best friend, etc…

xinez (#233,918)

Is it too much of a stretch to say that if you put Scarlett in 2000's Brooklyn & gave her 3 years after Rhett left that she'd write a memoir about what she learned after too much drinking, fucking, and loss?

melis (#1,854)


jolie (#16)

@xinez Oh for fuck's sake, we don't need to bring Williamsburg into everything. Take it to Thought Catalogue, pallie.

Never having been south of the Mason-Dixon line, everything I know about the South comes from several college courses, this book, and Justified. What am I missing?

Not a damn thing. Lived in GA for 12 years and all that's changed is they now have cell phones and the smarter ones have learned to curb their racism enough to not sound like overt creeps.

melis (#1,854)

where r u

Scarlett I'm at work I can't text right now

need u at mill

Scarlett I have the baby with me I really can't come to the mill

what baby

My baby. Wade. My baby with Melanie.

guess what kind of corset im wearing

I don't see what this has to do with the mi-

im not ;)


Never having been south of the Mason-Dixon line, everything I know about the South comes from several college courses, this book, and Justified. What am I missing?

Not a damn thing. Lived in GA for 12 years and all that's changed is they now have cell phones and the smarter ones have learned to curb their racism enough to not sound like overt creeps.

MTLincoln (#232,122)

Disclaimer: It's late, I'm tired. I may make typos and who knows? Even worse. GWTW is not a documentary, people. It's a novel. Mitchell can portray people as she chooses. That said, I don't agree that she "hated" black people — they were among the most interesting (especially Mammy – my god, what a woman!) and well-rounded people in the book. Yes, Prissy was a twit, but she'd have been just as big a twit if she'd been white. Look at Aunt Pittypat, for example.

Melanie was a strong and lovely woman, the light side to Scarlett's dark side. My favorite scene with her is when she thanks Rhett for coming between her and disaster. She is gracious and intelligent and I wish I were more like her in that scene. I think she saw through Scarlett all along but appreciated her strength. And when she needed help, Scarlett was always there (and vice versa)–a little bitchy and resentful, maybe, but there. Melanie was a remarkable woman, the perfect complement to Scarlett.

And speaking of whom–what makes this book unique and unforgettable is Scarlett. She was raised to be nothing more than an ornament and instead she rose to the occasion and saved everyone and everything she loved, and lost herself in the process. She was, for all her flaws, a true feminist heroine. She stepped outside her class and her upbringing and did what had to be done. How much fun do you think it was to marry Frank Kennedy, whom she didn't love? She didn't do it to spite her weakling sister. She did it to save the farm, because she was the only one who could do it. Ashley was just her Achilles heel.

Forget about the men here. Look at the three women in this book — Mammy, Scarlett, and Melanie. They are brilliantly drawn, and in the movie brilliantly portrayed. The other one I'd add is Belle Watling, whose scene in the carriage after Frank's death is heartbreaking. These are strong women in a time that didn't appreciate strong women.

It's not for nothing this book is still in print. Accept it for the time when it was written, and by whom, and thank Mitchell for writing the only book about that period from the POV of women. They're not Everywoman. They're these particular women, and they are as alive in our collective psyches as any characters we can name. Please don't turn this into a dissertation about bigotry and weakness and misogyny and yada-yada. IT'S A NOVEL. And it's a great one in many ways. These women are women in a bad situation. Not Woman. They don't owe us anything except their story.

barnhouse (#1,326)

WOW that was marvelous, thank you.

MTLincoln (#232,122)

@barnhouse Thanks! You should read what Pat Conroy (The Prince of Tides, The Great Santini, etc.) has to say about GWTW in his wonderful book, My Reading Life. I've always loved GWTW for the reasons above, among others, but what he said validated my feeling that it's a truly underrated book.

SuperMargie (#1,263)

When I read GWTW at age 14 (summer homework assigned by my mother, btw), I caused a huge family fight when I declared I pretty much thought Scarlett was a huge bitch who brought all her misery on herself. This got me PUNCHED by my 19 yo sister, who honestly tried to fashion herself as a modern Scarlett. My mother took this as a perfect time to explain to us what bordeline personality disorders are and why some people deliberately sabotage themselves at every turn. My dad took this as the perfect time to tell my sister she was being super annoying with her fake southern accent and good lord there are six of us sitting at the table at our cabin fighting about GWTW and to please kill him now.

mbmargarita (#165,578)

Scarlett is a Slytherin and Ashley is a dreamy-headed Ravenclaw. It was just never going to work out between them.

Equestrienne (#201,975)

Scarlett is so terrible and reminds me so much of me at my absolute worst, but I unabashedly love her. Melanie Wilkes reminds me of every girl in my college sorority I found insufferably dull.

I recently watched a documentary on PBS about Margaret Mitchell, and the woman definitely had a very complicated and distorted position on matters of race. For its many flaws, I do think GWTW remains an engaging and important fictional work through which we can reflect on the atrocities of slavery, Reconstruction and this country's larger, looming racial issues.

I think the ideas espoused within GWTW about one's relationship to the "land" are uniquely American and a huge part of our cultural identity. This is, for me at least, the heart of the novel.

highjump (#11,044)

@Equestrienne Yes, MM actually worked for some desegregation in Georgia, but was still a product of her time. The racism in the book really represents 1930s benevolent racism and not 1865 cruelty. She really goes out of her way to present Pork and Mammy as wonderful and part of the family, but she really presents them as equivalent to family pets (Pork getting the watch) or something.

3penny (#233,941)

@Equestrienne It's interesting to look at the book as a picture of how some Southerners want their relationship with African Americans to have been. Magical thinking, kind of, and problematic because they use it to make a certain kind of reality.

My grandfather, who shepherded his family out of Soviet territory and through Nazi-occupied Poland and, eventually, to the States, loved GWTW. He said it was the ultimate American novel, and I can't help thinking it was partly because what he survived made him sympathize with Scarlett. Unlike her, fortunately, he was a kind and loving man whose children and grandchildren loved him, and he was a polyglot engineer whose gentleness and patience remain one of my fondest memories of him.

meetapossum (#207,195)

I always saw Wade and Ella (and Bonnie for that matter) as a pure reflection of what she thought of each of her husbands.

DH@twitter (#99,666)

Scarlett is a character who gets the full gamut of my emotions. I love her, I hate her, I love to hate her, I hate to love her. All of it. She is awful and mesmerizing.

Despite all of its problems I love the book and the movie, and a few years ago my city's historic theater showed Gone With the Wind on my birthday, and it was awesome.

iceberg (#233,938)

Ugggghhhh I hate this book so much. I forced myself to finish it in the hope that Scarlett would get comeuppance or learn a lesson (like for example that black people were humans just like her) but no dice. I find it offensive that people still think it's a great book, TBH. I mean the racism is just so intertwined with every level, I just can't go "oh but look at the dresses!"

atipofthehat (#797)

This article could change your mind:

Beye, Charles Rowan. "Gone With the Wind, and Good Riddance." Southwest Review. 78:3, 1993. p. 366-7.

Can't find it online.

@atipofthehat WHY ARE YOU TEASING ME?


atipofthehat (#797)

@Nicole Cliffe@facebook

I'll scan it for you if I can find it!

Nabonwe (#12,500)

@Nicole Cliffe@facebook I found it! And I read it! And I would send it along if I had any idea how. It left me with…mixed feelings? to say the least? Here is the last paragraph.

Gone With the Wind was published in the depths of the Great Depression. The years of the Depression were followed by the Second World War. It is not hard to see how it spoke to an American audience of that period. The economic and social disaster that the Civil War brought to the white aristocracy of the old South is a good metaphor for the economic and social dislocation that millions of ordinary Americans experienced between 1936 and 1946. Suddenly vast numbers of people were devastated by hunger, homelessness, and joblessness. Often, however, they were also freed from middle class gentility; women especially were freed from propriety; classes were mixed up; immigrant groups became richer and freer in the experience of America; war made women independent of men as never before. Here in Gone With the Wind appeared a woman of singular energy, who had the courage and invention to survive the horror and chaos of the war years, the courage to throw off the teachings of her mother, and finally the courage to live for herself without a man (even free of pesky children, as Bonnie Blue falls to the ground from her horse, indulged just as Gerald O'Hara had been in the same dangerous sport; both of them tiresome nuisances, however dear they may sometimes seem to bel, but most important of all, to be true to the code of money rather than gentility. The makers of the movie version understood this better than Mitchell, as one would of course imagine since the money perspective is so profound in the making of film. In the final scene of the first half of the movie (a far better half, indeed, and building so well to this finale) Scarlett shouts out to the heavens, "If I have to steal or kill–as God is my witness, I'm never going to be hungry again." It is a moment of great triumph, even if Scarlett feels herself to be speaking out of desperation, since at that moment she throws off the shackles of her childhood culture and of her womanhood, and adopts the masculine stance that has energized the United States of America and made it great from its inception.

highjump (#11,044)

Everyone should read "Frankly, My Dear: Gone With The Wind Revisited"

And can't we give Scarlett more credit for saving Tara (who was going to raise the money to pay those taxes? Careen?), owning a business, and being fabulous as hell? All while having PTSD?

My favorite movie costume is the fabulous green and gold bedroom robe.

PeachyLefevre (#233,942)

Love this! Love the book. Love the movie. You're right on so many points…except the Margaret Mitchell not liking black people part. She famously (albeit anonymously) donated a shit-ton of money to Morehouse college (historically black college in Atlanta).

Oh, and I'm from Georgia so an expert, right?

On a side note, I recently told my therapist that I thought all my problems stem from the fact that I'm a Scarlett and not a Melanie. I've got issues, y'all!

fabel (#201,544)

I love this book, & the movie, AND LOVE THAT YOU POSTED THIS. Ahh!

Um, um. Okay. I like Scarlett, but when that study came out about novels influencing your life or whatever, I was kind of like "uh-oh." Because I read this book 534039 times at an impressionable age (14) and identified really hard with Scarlett and her awfulness. (And…I still do?)

I always liked Melanie as well, though. The part when she comes down with a sword after Scarlett shoots the guy is great, & even Scarlett is impressed with her quick lie to the children about what the noise was ("What a cool liar!") I thought it was pretty evident that Scarlett loved Melanie the whole time, just like she loved Rhett, but she was just confused as to what love was (not pining for the unknown)

I'm less optimistic about the "what happens after"– I don't think she ever gets Rhett back; I think she's stuck with Ashley (& yes, ugh! Ashley, you're terrible!)

Tikabelle@twitter (#234,337)

@fabel WHAT STUDY AGHGHHGHGH?!? Because all of a sudden all the times I said things like, "I may read too many Victorian novels but…" seems awfully prescient.

melis (#1,854)

One of the most interesting parts about the GWTW cast is that Butterfly McQueen, who played Prissy (a role that is a lot harder to argue was written with any sympathy for black women than, say, Hattie McDaniel's) left her body to science and all of her money to the Freedom from Religion foundation when she died in a fire in 1995. She was amazing! That's amazing!

melis (#1,854)

Oh my God, and Hattie McDaniel earned every inch of that Oscar. How are we not talking about her?

highjump (#11,044)

@melis The interviews with her on the 4disc GWTW box set are amazing. She talks about how she took the role because there just weren't a lot of roles for black women and she knew it would be a huge production with tons of important people. But! She refused to eat watermelon on camera or let them actually slap her. Amazing indeed!

@melis HATTIE MCDANIEL. And her Oscar speech, when you see her FUCKING GRAVITAS, and everyone squirms horribly because you realize that she's not USEFUL to Hollywood as an individual with gravitas.

highjump (#11,044)

One things I will agree with you on Nicole is that the Tarleton twins (really, all the Tarletons) sounds super hot and like most excellent husband material. It makes me so, so sad when I think of Careen and her broken heart for Brent Tarleton. Careen is one of my favorite minor characters and I think she would have grown out of the shadow of her attention getting older sister and had a lovely life as a Tarleton, with a bonus of all of those fun sounding Tarleton sisters-in-law, if only Brent had not died with his twin in the most melodramatic way possible. And then she become a nun. She should have had Will at least.

sevanetta (#14,222)

@highjump Yes indeed :(

now whoooo wants to put on big white floofy dresses and run off to marry the Tarleton twins (both of 'em!)?


mlle.gateau (#233,309)

So… GWTW story! I read it when I was 14, and I saw it for the first time at the movie theater because it was rereleased when I was 15. My mom and I drove for like an hour to get a theatre that was showing it, and it was just us and a million old ladies. When they do that money shot where Rhett is at the bottom of the stairs, EVERY SINGLE WOMAN in the theatre gasped simultaneously. It was beautiful.

melis (#1,854)

@mlle.gateau UUUUGH that scene. "My dear, he isn't received."

astrangerinthealps (#178,808)

I was ten when I saw the movie (midnight showing at a downtown theater, ooh) and read the book.  I've had plenty of time to get over it. As an adult I'm a humorless prig who can't get past the racism to enjoy the dresses, much like I can't get past Mickey Rooney's hideous Japanese-y caricature in Breakfast at Tiffany's. My fave thing about the movie is the way Scarlett is played by a British actress, because it feeds the secret fantasies of all the lineage-obsessed Scarlett wannabes that royal blood lurks somewhere in their veins if you go far back enough, when in fact they are all the trash of empire. 

Also, the scene where Scarlett is checking out some kind of malfeasance at the sawmill and the slippery manager tries to keep her out of some room by telling her there's a nekkid man in there reminds me of a news story I read about a woman who was trying to integrate (as in gender-integrate) some old boys' club in DC (100 years after the action in GWTW!) and was told the reason they couldn't allow ladies was that they might see a naked man. 

katward (#233,944)

I read GWTW at 13, and (naturally) way over-identified with Scarlett–the dresses! The 17-inch waist! The CONNIVING! I definitely wrote essays about why she was a role model. Which…is maybe the same stage self-absorbed teenagers go through with Ayn Rand? In that, we all hope we grow out of being selfish adolescent assholes and into people who believe in social welfare and not obsessing over Ashley Wilkes?

Of course, this has not stopped me from maintaining my (semi-guilty) girl crush on Ms. O'Hara. Just, maybe adding more Mellie in my life as well.

And, oh yeah. Team Tarleton. All the way.

sevanetta (#14,222)

@katward I'm 30, I still think she's a role model – but then I only read this book for the first time 2 years ago?

alexandra (#233,950)

Hated her. I have always hated her.

mygoldies (#233,069)

I read this at 14 or so and have loved it ever since. Hilariously, there is a famous story in my family about my grandfather, who was so excited as a teenager when he finally got a copy of this after it came out that he hid from his family and shirked his work on the farm so he could read all day.

Upon hearing this, I was like "I would totally have done that!", and then my family laughed at the idea that I wouldn't have been shirking my work on a family farm constantly, with or without a hot new novel to read.

@mygoldies I like you.

violet.jelinek (#231,760)

Mitchelle, herself, claimed to view Melanie as the true heroine of GWTW. She stated it was she who best embodied the ideal virtues of white Southern womanhood: graceful, kind, intelligent, and, as the scene with the would be Yankee rapist shows, willing to defend her home, kin, and said womanhood– with force if need be. Which is to say, I'm not sure Mitchell's intentions was to make Scarlett likeable–if that were the case she could have made her less vindictive, less callous. Indeed, it appears Mitchell wanted for us most to respect Scarlett, to be enthralled by her. In that sense she succeeded beyond all expectations. For further reading I suggest Frankly, My Dear, while it would have been helpful and outright fascinating for the writer to have given more considerations to race–not just in regards to the text but to the making of the film in which we see Rhett Butler as being considerably respectable to Hattie McDaniel; Hattie McDaniel's own radical defiance and life outside her numerous mammy roles; and Mitchell's own dependence on and complex relationship with her long serving black maid–it still makes for some fine reading.

lobsterhug (#66,323)

I read Gone with the Wind after Les Miserables and I loved that Les Mis was the book espoused by the Cause.

violet.jelinek (#231,760)

I read The Wind Done Gone many years ago, as a teenager and don't remember it. It recently reentered my radar when after reading that stupid open ed in the NYT a few weeks back about how black women were fat, happy to be fat, with black lovers who liked them fat but how all that needed to change. I googled the writer's name to find she had also penned TWDG, I then read reviews and a few excerpts from it only become more incensed. The writer approached her novels only to incite, possibly offend, and, certainly to profit–much like her idiotic open ed. Basically, she approached GWTW with a very base understanding of the book. In her "revision" she posits Mammy and the other slaves as so cruel and self serving that they'd murder all of the O'Hara's male heirs, she presents this not as cold eyed infanticide, but as a liberation act: in the absence of sensible male heirs they were left free to manipulate Scarlett's oft-drunk and jolly father. And then the writer gives Scarlett a sister, a mulatto, of course, who can't seem to shake the shadow of the white sister she hates. It's also poorly written.

@violet.jelinek THIS. I will never forgive the travesty of THE WIND DONE GONE.

jolie (#16)

I'd love to hear more about how everyone feels about the men in this book — there are a number we've mentioned but maybe we could dedicate some real time to talking about them. So far I've gasped at references to Archie and Will (YOU GUYS! ARCHIE! AND WILLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!) and then also at Pork (the watch! THE WATCH! I'm practically weeping at the thought of it right now even though I know there was a hideous paternalistic, family pet manner in which he was treated by the characters/Mitchell but STILL. I love Pork.) but I haven't yet seen anyone mention Big Sam and JESUS CHRIST BIG SAM. Thank the good, sweet Lord for Big Sam.

And obviously the Tarleton Twins (and they're God damned glorious mother) and Gerald and TERRIBLE Jonas Wilkerson and Charles, oh poor dull, stupid Charles, and gosh really just ALL OF THEM. There were some remarkable male characters.

Equestrienne (#201,975)

@jolie Gerald O'Hara is probably my favorite man in this book. He's just this wonderful, charismatic redneck take on the concept of the country squire.

melis (#1,854)

@jolie OH GOD MRS. TARLETON WITH HER HORSES. Nicole, get down here and talk about Mrs. Tarleton's horses right now. Nicole Cliffe, please report to the Mrs. Tarleton Horses Thread immediately.

Equestrienne (#201,975)

@melis "Curb them but don't break their spirits". LOVE HER! (Sorry Jolie, I know we're supposed to be talking about men here). I think it's great that Mitchell describes her as eternally in some form of riding dress.

jolie (#16)

@melis I was so excited about Mrs. Tarleton that I used the wrong form of "their" :(

BUT LITERALLY SERIOUSLY NICOLE HOW COULD YOU NOT MENTION MRS. TARLETON AND HER HORSES??? My take on her was that she was a lesbian, and that she channeled a desire/love/etc she couldn't express into her horses because even though her devotion to her horses and friendship with Gerald and etc. was outside the realm of normal it was still acceptable and that was her way of reconciling her need for fulfillment with the constraints of her station.

@jolie And the Fontaine brother that kills the yankee! "My God Scarlett, it isn't to be borne!" And I totally adore Will Benteen. And have a bit of a soft spot for poor old Mr. Wilkes too, so sad marching off to die on the beautiful horse.

jolie (#16)

@Equestrienne Ha! Is okay! (Also: your username helloooooooooooo.) And I mean, (1) I brought her up and (2) just went on a whole tear about my Mrs. Tarleton theories.

God, I love all those Tarletons so freaking much.

@Katie Turner@twitter Also Melanie rules but so does Scarlett, and why hasn't anyone brought up the deliciously horrible society wives of Atlanta? Like Mrs Merriwether and Mrs Meade? Those old battleaxes!

jolie (#16)

@Katie Turner@twitter DOCTOR MEADE TOO HELLO DOCTOR MEADE!!!!!! When he tells Mrs. Meade to basically get over it? Ohmygod.

jolie (#16)

@Katie Turner@twitter Okay serious Q about the Fontaine brothers: How did they all end up with Italian names? Joe, Tony and Alex??? WHAT EVEN? It's like a Balk family reunion up in there.

@jolie I always figured they were smoking hot with their ferocious natures and dark hair. But I never considered the Italian connection. And Oh Mah Gawd Dr. Meade, kind of a bad-ass. I never liked the actor who played him in the movie, I thought he would be much more virile than that old man.

@jolie THE HORSES AND MRS TARLETON. Oh, she is so my spiritual sister, because I constantly make horse and breeding parallels to human behavior to a bored audience.

jolie (#16)

@Katie Turner@twitter I actually loved the movie version of Dr. Meade. He always looked to me like the tough old rooster that poor Uncle Peter (UNCLE PETER YOU GUYS) is sent out to slaughter for Christmas supper.

zinger (#171,774)

(1) Don't know why she didn't choose a Tarleton twin, preferably the one that was really Superman. Would have solved a lot. (2) My college fiancee had a bad case of Scarlett envy. Made her pathologically narcissistic. (3) There is a wonderful cabaret theater GWTW parody along the lines of "Compleat Works of Shakespeare" (I'll have to come back and post its name) in which most of the laughs are generated as you watch the same actor frantically wheel back and forth to play both Rhett and Mammy. 1000 laughs. I was helpless with laughter. The most fun I've ever had out of the Civil War.

jolie (#16)

Y'all wait.


Dilcey is the one we should all aspire to be.

@jolie Dilcey is SO RAD. And isn't she Prissy's mother? How ashamed she must have been

@Katie Turner@twitter Dilcey is the first one to tell you that Prissy is an embarrassment.

jolie (#16)

@Katie Turner@twitter She was Prissy's mom. But I don't think Pork was her father, and that the subtext was that some thuggish field hand raped her and thus begat Prissy.

jolie (#16)

@jolie "thuggish" was not the right term to use there. WOW. Apologies – that had racial connotations that I didn't consider and should have considered. Oof.

melis (#1,854)

God, but I love Prissy. I couldn't help but think her whole "I don't understand childbirth" shtick was an unbelievably cunning act of sabotage.

melis (#1,854)

A conversation I have apparently had here before!

bookworm1357 (#233,959)

I don't have the patience for Scarlett. She annoyed me so much with her unrepentant awfulness that I never finished the book. However, given that I was 12 at the time, it might be time to give it another shot. So, while I've never been particularly attached to Gone With The Wind, (though I'll always be grateful to it for inspiring this Carol Burnett Show parody: one of the Tarleton twins apparently lived next door to an older cousin of mine. (Unfortunately, this was not the one that was also Superman.) He's become something of a legend to my crazy southern family. We have a lot of autographs and hazy, completely apocryphal stories about the movie that come out at funerals and Thanksgiving.

Isakdinneson (#233,961)

On the first scene where Scarlett and Rhett first lock eyes on the staircase at Twelve Oaks her friend (Charlene?) starts whispering mad gossip about him
and how he took someone out buggy riding
in the late afternoon etc…is she referring to Belle?

@Isakdinneson And he REFUSED TO MARRY HER THE NEXT DAY. I don't think it was Belle.

Isakdinneson (#233,961)

Aaaand I think Suellen = Edith.

Chrestomanci (#231,920)

@Isakdinneson Therefore Lady Mary = Scarlett and Sybil = Careen (except she became a nurse instead of a nun)

01lukewarm (#9,661)

Does anyone remember the name of the older house servant who stays with Scarlett and her family after the war? In the novel (not the movie, which I wish they included) there's a kind of insane scene where she and the servant are riding together and some Yankee women make some condescending comments and she says "he's our family" and rides off because they were bruising his dignity. And they shriek over "what does she mean family [sotto voce miscengenation freakout]?" That was always a weirdly redeeming moment for me, that Scarlett for one moment stuck by someone who had stuck by her.

jolie (#16)

@01lukewarm Was it Uncle Peter? Pittypat's devoted servant? I feel like it was – and that Scarlett also comforted him when he was upset by how he'd been treated.

J. L. A.@twitter (#233,995)

I can't believe no one has mentioned Cade Calvert! Poor poor Cade, he's the one Scarlett should have chosen, not either of the Tarletons.

I think I first read this book when I was 15 or 16. We found an old copy in my great-uncle's barn and I've loved it ever since. It even had some old fan magazine articles on the movie stuck in it.

I almost wish HBO would do a Gone with the Wind mini-series and cover the whole book, Wade, Ella and Bonnie, both India and Honey Wilkes, Archie and Will, and the Tarleton sisters. I would watch the shit out of that! And naturally, we could argue for hours about who would play Scarlett, but we all know Rachel McAdams would be the best.

charlsiekate (#231,720)

I like the way this discussion crosses the book and the movie into one entity.

I have a early edition of Gone With the Wind, that my grandparents gave to my great-grand parents as a Christmas present in 1937, documented by the inscription. I swiped it from my great grandmother's house in Valdosta, Ga, twenty years after she died. I obviously come from a long line of horders.

Anyway, Ashley always drove me absolutely mad – what was attractive about him? The book gives a lot of history about the battle sites in north Georgia, and the site of Tara was swallowed by the ATL many, many, many years ago. And the ATL was an upstart town, Charleston, Savannah, and Augusta were much more historically significant at that time.

Aside from the racial tension, the book documents a lot of other social aspects of the South, the fact that the O'Haras were Irish and Catholic – cities like Savannah, Charleston, Columbia, and Augusta – all have strong Irish Catholic settlements and neighborhoods (Think St. Patrick's Day – Savannah – or that the largest and richest Irish Travelers community in the world is between Augusta and Columbia). The O'Haras had strayed from that conclave into the wild of west Georgia, for the American dream of being landowners.

And I LOVE that the Tarlton twins had been kicked out of so many schools. And I cry, cry, cry when Atlanta burns, even if I sometimes wish it would burn again when I'm stuck in traffic.

But Mammy's red petticoat is the best part.

Isakdinneson (#233,961)

@ charsliekate Rhett- What's that russlin I hear? Mammie- why it's just that red silk petticoat you done gave me

Sunday @twitter (#234,004)

You know who I hated? Melanie. Goodie goodie bitch.

sevanetta (#14,222)

@Sunday @twitter Fuck yeah, my rant about her is above

Melanie and Scarlett. Virgin and whore. The dichotomy of femininity. As someone already noted it's the light and the shade. I don't think you could have Scarlett without Mellie. Forget the men. It's sort of their love story. And no, that's not girl on girl literal but they each learn from the other and define themselves in comparison throughout the novel/movie.

Further question for discussion. Is GWTW (movie) Chickdoms Star Wars? *sigh* One day I'll go back to uni and write my thesis on Scarlett O'Hara feminist hero.

Oh and on the race thing – interesting fact about Ms Leigh is her own mixed race background. Often wondered if her mixed feelings (lame pun intended) over that impacted on the force she used in the notorious Prissy slap down.

Anyway, love gwtw. Love your comments.

Catherine (#288,488)

@Audrey Horne@facebook interestingly, the scene in GWTW where Scarlett and Rhett first kiss is very close to the scene in Star Wars where Han and Leia do…

Oh and Star Wars is for girls too. So not ascribing to lock us out there y'all.

chiniqua (#8,615)

Scarlett O'Hara = Becky Thatcher (& GWTW = Vanity Fair). Discuss.

Tikabelle@twitter (#234,337)

@chiniqua Becky Thatcher? Or Becky Sharp?

Tikabelle@twitter (#234,337)

@chiniqua Sorry, got excited about literary references there. Becky Sharp = Scarlett = YESSSSS. It is almost undoubted (in my mind, at least) that MM read Vanity Fair.

Evilbeagle (#234,049)

I love Gone With the Wind, first off. I've read it at least 30 times since I was 12. On the surface, Scarlett is everything good and bad that people have said of her here, but in reality, she is the embodiment of the New South that rose from the ashes of the old. This is evident throughout. She is willing to move forward and be proactive in rebuilding her life and wealth, while those around her are content to sit around dreaming of the past. Scarlett's actions are not pretty. She is a complex character. But the Civil War and Reconstruction were not pretty, and it was certainly a complex period of American history.

miss melanie (#234,056)

This overwrought, brilliant (and yes, admittedly offensive) book has informed my entire life! My mother, a would-be belle, named me after Melanie. I, too, first read the book when I was 12 — and we moved south. I'm 41 now and have lived in the south two-thirds of my life. (Is that right? I don't have Scarlett's mathematical mind — more like Cathleen Calvert's or any graduate of the Fayetteville Female Academy.) My son's name is Beau. Enough said. Speaking of names, has anyone mentioned yet what Margaret Mitchell's initial name for Scarlett was? Pansy. Yes, believe it or not — up till the time the book was at the printer. Think of the difference "Pansy" would have made. A drip, a plink, instead of Scarlett's serious impact. … Totally agree about poor Wade and Ella being neglected … And, in closing, my favorite dress is the lavender barred muslin, even though it "suited Carreen's wishy-washy type" way more than Scarlett's. :)

I was 4 when I watched the movie for the first time and my mother was shocked and elated when I sat through the entire movie. Since then it has remained my favorite movie of all time. Vivien Leigh was my ideal, and I loved Scarlet's gumption, thought Ashley was dull as hell and that Rhett Butler was sex on a stick.

It wasn't until high school that I finally read the book. I came out of it thinking that Scarlet was a bitch, but an awesome bitch who I still loved.

The movie and the book are my all-time favorites and that will never change.

dillinger196 (#234,072)


When I was growing up, it was before the movie was shown on TV all the time, but it was referenced in pop culture all the time: the Carol Burnett parody; on Here's Lucy they did a play of it with Lucy (who auditioned for the role of Scarlett in real life) as Scarlett and Flip Wilson as Prissy. I could not wait to read the book.

I was a high school freshman when I finally had access to it in the school's library (I grew up in Bumfuck), and I LOVED it, though I remember being surprised at the time that Scarlett was, I thought then, a bitch.

I have since read it several times and seen the movie more times than I can count. Speaking of the DVD commentary on (one of) the anniversary editions, there's a really wonderful extra with the lovely Olivia de Havilland sitting in what looks like a hotel room, just recounting memories from making the movie. The one part I remember off-hand is her describing how she had loved the beautiful hoop-skirted dress she was to wear at Tara for Scarlett's wedding to Charles, that she knew that after that scene, it was going to be pretty downhill, wardrobe-wise. But then the skirt was so full that along with Scarlett's gown, they couldn't film it correctly, so they took the hoops out so she could get in close to Scarlett. And she was so disappointed about the one beautiful gown she was to wear: "It just hung there, drooping."

To, finally, get to the point. I forget how many hours long experts have guessed the movie would've been if David Selznick had filmed every scene in the book, but obviously many. But every scene in the movie is in the book. (They filmed a scene created for the movie, where the characters have to go to court after the Shantytown raid in which Frank Kennedy was killed but didn't use it.)

I can understand leaving Wade and Ella out of the movie (People say that Mitchell didn't know how to write for children, so she just relegated them to the background, and Selznick thought if they were included, showing Scarlett as an inattentive, even bad, mother would make her unsympathetic.) But I always thought that the omission of Dilcey, Will and Archie from the movie gave Scarlett far too much credit for pulling the family through. After all, it was Dilcey who nursed Melanie's baby, who I suppose would have died otherwise. Those three characters were crucial in helping the O'Haras survive. When you see the movie, as much as I love it (and GWTW is my favorite movie as well as book), it's pretty hard to believe that a rich, spoiled, pampered plantation teenage girl would know how to plant and grow cotton.

Anyway, the comments here have been great fun to read. And MTLincoln, above, yours was the best!

Evilbeagle (#234,049)


I love the DVD commentaries! I completely agree that Dilcey, Will and Archie are unfortunate omissions in the movie. They were important and well written characters that had a huge part in helping the O'Haras survive. I can forgive the omission due to the length of the movie as it is, and because as you said, Selznick's every scene was in the book. To his credit, he was more true to the book in dialogue and imagery than most (dare I say, all?) film makers that I am aware of. I'm one of THOSE that will always say that the book is better than the movie, but the movie in this case, is pretty impressive, even down to the casting. I'll give Selznick a pass. ;)

I will note, however, that it actually isn't much of a stretch to believe that a young woman in that era would know about planting and growing cotton. From a young age, girls were taught the ins and outs of running a plantation because they married young and were expected to manage the plantation alongside their husbands. While it is true that the menfolk generally handled the agricultural aspect of plantation life in a more direct manner, while the women ran the household, the women would probably not have been entirely ignorant when it came to planting/growing cotton. I expect that somewhere in between learning how to do all those womanly things, some knowledge of planting would be essential for any young lady of the time.

Tikabelle@twitter (#234,337)

Great, you guys. Now I have to re-read GWTW, and I just got a job offer yesterday 150 miles away and have to move in NINE DAYS and all I want to do is curl up with Scarlett. JUST GREAT. (My life is so hard boohoo inorite? Still, packing sucks.)

Scarlett is a favorite of mine. Every time I read GWTW and get to the end, I think, "that's right, you conniving ignorant bitch. You treated Rhett badly!" But then a day goes by and I shift into, "but she came so far! And struggled for so long!" And Les Mis starts playing in my head and I become a total Scarlett apologist and have to read Scarlett again, which is the BEST kind of trashy book (and OMG the crinolines and dresses!). Someone upthread mentioned the whole madonna/whore dichotomy between Melanie and Scarlett, which I totally agree with. And I'd also add that neither comes out ahead; Melly was punished with death for her madonna ways, while Scarlett got to live but live in hell (more Les Mis!).

I also recommend the audiobook for those who are into such things. The reader does the voices well and knows where the jokes are, which is great because sometimes I read this book so quickly I miss the nuances.

NINE DAYS YOU GUYS. If I am late starting my new job, I am blaming all of you all.

MunchletteBelle (#234,421)

My love for Scarlett O'Hara is similar to my love for Catherine Earnshaw. Neither one of them is actually a person one should hope to emulate, but they are almost ridiculously compelling. They are both such intense people. And I think Melanie Wilkes is intense in her own way. I love her too and I think that Scarlett loves her for most of the book, even though she doesn't realize it.

Also, one change from the book to the movie that really bugs me is the scene where Scarlett and Melanie give their wedding rings for the Cause. In the book, when they ask for jewelry, Scarlett is the first to offer her wedding ring cause she doesn't really give a crap about Charles's memory. And Melly is so moved by the gesture that she offers hers as well. But in the movie, they have Melanie give her ring first and then Scarlett is all "Well, take mine too!" It just seemed like some unnecessary pettiness to add to Scarlett's character, when what's actually interesting in that scene is Scarlett's nonchalance about the act of giving her ring followed by Melanie's emotional parting with hers that would probably not have happened had she not been inspired by Scarlett's "bravery." It's part of a pattern of Melanie finding nobility in Scarlett (and others) when there isn't actually much there.

momn (#237,819)

Love Scarlett or hate her – but Melanie as the central character would have made for a pretty boring book – ask any actress – they would all rather play Scarlett. Random thoughts – I love when they say that India's personality when she is a confirmed spinster suits her better than that of a girlish coquette – and I think they confirmed her as a spinster at age 25. I think the movie did not flesh out Scarlett's growing respect for Melanie – the kitchen fire scene in the book talks about it and I was sorry it was left out of the movie. I also hated that Rhett tells Scarlett at the beginning of the movie when he first dances with her that he wants to hear her say she loves him. Rhett's whole relationship with Scarlett in the book seems to be pure lust until he finally talks to her at the very end and she realizes the depth of his love. Immoral characters – Scarlett, Rhett…. nope – I think Ashley is the most immoral. Stringing Scarlett along with talk of honor, watching as she leaves for Atlanta to get the money (and knowing she would do anything), he would have been better off if he had died during the war instead of his father. I also agree with the post above – Scarlett gave her wedding ring first and it inspired Melanie. Favorite dress? The one that Scarlett describes as her favorite (the one with the grease stain) – because you can be sure that it was the best. Would love to see the book fleshed out as a mini-series – to see the Tarletons and the Fontaines.

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