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Gone with the Wind

I have finished reading Gone with the Wind, and can easily foresee it taking one of the top spots for my "best books read in 2006" list. Guess the Pulitzer Prize committee knew what they were doing. This discussion will contain spoilers, so if you don't want to know what happens in Gone with the Wind, move along.

I wanted to solicit opinions from others on this book, especially those who live in Civil War territory and/or are scholars of the war's history. I fall into neither category, and thus entered this experience with only having seen the film, back when I was a kid, and knowing it was about a pretty lady named Scarlett O'Hara who wore humongously huge hoop skirts, and a rogue named Rhett Butler who told her, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."

Now I see it's a bit more. I daresay it's what Cold Mountain was trying to do. I actually liked Cold Mountain, but came away from it feeling so very bummed out. Somehow Gone with the Wind, though covering almost the exact same range of topics, keeps its spirits throughout. This is due in large part to Scarlett: the narrative focus is squarely upon her, and she is all about survival--and not just scraping-by survival, but fine horses and carriages and flirting and pretty clothes; in short, fun survival.

She takes it to extremes. Lots of times, she asserts that all she wants is money. "As God is my witness, I will never be hungry again," she vows, famously, outraged and insulted at finding herself scrabbling for withered radishes in the neighbors' gardens after the Yankees have been through. Understandable--but just having enough to eat won't do for Scarlett. She wants riches; she wants to do whatever she likes and lie in feather beds half the day and tell the world to go to hell if they don't approve. (There's a quote to that effect somewhere, but in 1024 pages it's hard to find.) And, as with all good heroes, she gets what she wants, but pays a steep price for it.

Her interaction with her friends, family, slaves, and Georgia "society" is of course the most important factor in her survival, not money; but it takes her the greater part of the book to realize it. Her hatred of Melanie, the too-good-to-be-true sister-in-law (and unwitting romantic rival), is hilarious at times. Only the self-centered irritability of a teenage girl, such as Scarlett is at the beginning of the book, could find so much to hate in such a sweet person. And yet we can't hate Scarlett. Not only is she funny, but she is stronger than she thinks; and more loving than she thinks as well. It is particularly moving, at the end, when Scarlett finally comprehends that Melanie is probably her best friend in the world, and that losing her will hurt as much as losing her own mother. (Question for discussion: does Melanie know about Ashley and Scarlett?)

Rhett Butler, as everyone knows, takes her down a notch; not just at the end, with his not giving a damn, but at every opportunity. His attraction to Scarlett is "tough love" of the most entertaining kind. I think we can safely claim that a massive percentage of genre romance novels postdating Gone with the Wind have attempted to recreate the Rhett/Scarlett dynamic. He's as self-centered and opportunistic as she is, but, like Scarlett, does good deeds for others left and right, even if making snide remarks while doing them, and is a far better person than he wants people to believe. (Another question for discussion, the 64-million-dollar question: Will Scarlett get Rhett back?)

Then there's the politics and the race relations. Oh gracious. It's enough to make your head explode. I've heard the difference between the North and the South described as: "In the South they don't care how close blacks get, as long as they don't get too high; and in the North they don't care how high blacks get, as long as they don't get too close." Gone with the Wind illustrates this maxim perfectly. The Georgia folk are outraged that the Yankees would impose their slave-freeing mentality upon them, raising "darkies" to free status, insisting that they get to vote. Horrors! And yet...Scarlett is the one who gets angry when rumors say the Southerners mistreated their slaves; and when some Northern ladies say they wouldn't trust darkies. The slaves at Tara were well taken care of, and Scarlett knows how lovable and trustworthy her own personal slaves have been, and would not lose them for the world. She would set her buggy whip to those Yankee gals for their prejudice if she wasn't such a lady. And yet...Scarlett's slaves were still slaves.

Turning illiterate slaves loose and exhorting them to start voting, hating their former owners, and doing whatever they please would (and did) result in massive social problems. We still see the unproductive "victim mentality" among some minority groups today as a result. And yet...slavery was wrong. No question about that. So, on the one hand, I understood the outrage of the Southerners, for having their states' rights ignored and martial law imposed and unfair rumors spread; but, on the other hand, we couldn't exactly go on allowing slavery, could we? All in all it makes me glad I have renounced my keen participation in politics.

I could go on and on. But next up I should see the film again and kvetch about that. Oh, and I don't think anyone qualifies as a red-blooded young woman if she reads this book and doesn't want to try on at least half of Scarlett's wardrobe. Not that many of us could fit into that 17-inch waist.



( 40 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 18th, 2006 05:20 pm (UTC)
I wish I could get into the huge classics the way you do. It takes so much effort for me to stay with books like these long enough to love them. I know it's worth it in the end, but too often my short attention span wins. Still, you are so enthusiastic about these books that you make a convincing case for making the extra effort in return for greater payoffs. (*adds GWTW next to Daniel Derronda on the list of classics to bang head against*)


Will Scarlett get Rhett back?

I happened to glance down the page and saw the first two words of this and was all "Wait, Will Scarlett? That's Robin Hood. I thought we were talking about Gone With The Wind...how do...oh."
May. 18th, 2006 07:14 pm (UTC)
*laughs* Dude, you read the Dark Tower series, and that's like how many thousand pages? I haven't even dared start that one, due to its length. :) But anyway, GWTW is supremely readable. The thousand pages fly right by, much as they do with Stephen King's books. George Eliot, though marvelous and worth the effort, does take a bit of determination. Then there's Remembrance of Things Past, and War and Peace, and Don Quixote, all of which I still haven't waded through, but someday, someday.

Will Scarlett! Hee. I forgot about him. And now that you mention it, he was "Will Scarlett O'Hara" in Mel Brooks' version. ('Men in Tights')
(no subject) - kalquessa - May. 18th, 2006 07:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
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May. 18th, 2006 06:25 pm (UTC)
i just finished reading the book myself (for the third time, i am a much bigger girl than i want to admit) a couple weeks ago, so this is wacky timing! guess it's that whole anniversary thing that made me want to read it; i just did the math. eheh.

my favourite thing about the book vs. the movie is the casting - it's pretty insane how well the actors portray those characters, and physically LOOK just like them. i'd love to see another movie of the book though, although the casting would be impossible to top, just for the portrayal of the characters they left out of the movie - will benteen, omg. i love that character. and scarlett's other two kids, and archie.. big giant important characters that i just adored, totally left out. made me sad.

as for the whole "did melanie know" issue.. i like to think that she did; that she knew how scarlett felt and how ashley felt, but she was light years ahead of them and already saw the truth underneath it, that they didn't REALLY, they just didn't know it yet. same as rhett, knowing it was all about lust made love in the stupid brain, and she went ahead and forgave them for it in crazy advance because.. well.. she's perfect.

i love melanie. i LOVE melanie.

i also love the way the four main characters (scarlett ashley rhett melanie) are so insanely unique and different but the similarities between them are so clear at the same time. character development definitely = mitchell's strong suit. you want to strangle scarlett sometimes for being SO DAMN STUPID and not figuring things out, but dammit.. she's so feckin TOUGH. and smart.. just in all the wrong ways sometimes.

and ashley is seooooo emo.

ok anyway mmmmmmmmmmmm good book!
May. 18th, 2006 07:21 pm (UTC)
I ended up loving Melanie too. In past years I might have said I was more like Scarlett, or wanted to be; but now I definitely want to be more like Melanie. Especially with that whole "not having everyone think you're a total beeyotch" benefit. And good point on her probable understanding about Ashley & Scarlett. That makes sense.

A full-length meticulous miniseries would be awesome, but you're right, hard to outdo the original casting. How could we find anyone remotely as perfect for Rhett as Clark Gable? Although, hmmm, a new post someday could be modern casting ideas. Oooh, fun...
May. 18th, 2006 11:40 pm (UTC)
I love Scarlett. We're a lot alike, she and I, personality-wise. The movie is classic and I love it too, though I just have a very old taped-off-TV version. I plan to pick up the DVD one of these days.
May. 19th, 2006 05:10 am (UTC)
Hee. Granted, I don't know you in person, but you seem a fair bit sweeter than Scarlett. :) However, I do believe you have the same awesome survival skills. After all, when life gives you green velvet curtains, make a green velvet dress.
May. 19th, 2006 02:27 am (UTC)
"Will Scarlett get Rhett back?"
I'm not sure if you're aware of this or not, (and since no one else has mentioned it), there is a sequel to GWTW called Scarlett. However, it's written by Alexandria Ripley, not Mitchell. I found it to be a very interesting read, and starry-eyed, romance-loving girl in me was well-satisfied in the end.
May. 19th, 2006 03:12 am (UTC)
Re: "Will Scarlett get Rhett back?"
Ditto on the rec. Must-read!
Re: "Will Scarlett get Rhett back?" - mollyringle - May. 19th, 2006 05:10 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: "Will Scarlett get Rhett back?" - elycia - May. 19th, 2006 10:42 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 19th, 2006 02:34 am (UTC)
GWTW discussies
Okay ... I've read the book so many times I've killed TWO copies. Basically read both copies over and over again until the pages fell out of the binding. That and I live in Georgia. Not a civil war buff, but definitely a GWTW buff.

Question 1 - Did Melanie know? Well ... there are parts where she was TOLD, especially right out by her own sister India. And she completely blew that idea out of the water, saying that India was no longer welcome in her home, blah blah. So I got Melanie as a trusting soul who never believed negatively of Scarlett, felt she was like a sister, etc. Poor sweet naive Melanie.

Question 2 - Well, that is all up for how you look at it. She very well could have gotten Rhett back. And in fact, there IS a sequel (written by another author) where Scarlett is pursuing Rhett. I didn't like it as much as GWTW so I don't remember if she got back with him or not.

Dude, as far as that 17 inch waist goes, that's WITH a corset on. And I'm thin, at normal weight (preggo weight doesn't count) I was never anywhere near a 17 inch waist, my smallest was 25 inches and that was weighing just about 100 pounds even. So yeah, corsets make waists MUCH skinnier than anyone can ever hope to fit into.
May. 19th, 2006 05:13 am (UTC)
Re: GWTW discussies
Hah, yeah--I had a baby three months ago and there's no way I could get below even 30" now, even corseted. And pre-baby, I doubt I could have gotten much below 23 or so, with a corset. Not that I ever wear one, because, ouch.

I suspect Melanie did understand about the Scarlett/Ashley love, but, as atherisch said above, also knew it was nothing to worry about since it wasn't a threat to her marriage. Or else she really was naive. I thought so for most of the book, but started to wonder by the end...
May. 19th, 2006 03:13 am (UTC)
Mm, I think she knew deep down. But talking about it was another story.
May. 19th, 2006 05:19 am (UTC)
Lived in Brunswick, Georgia, 1960-63, GWTW was known even by those whose literary skills were, ah, rudimentary. You got a sense of the effect Mr. Lincoln's war had on people even then, a hundred years later, both as people and as what was called then State's Rights folks.

May. 22nd, 2006 04:31 pm (UTC)
I've heard other Southerners call it "The War of Northern Aggression." I used to think it was a joke, but now I'm not sure it is.
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May. 19th, 2006 11:32 am (UTC)
Okay, here we go. *cracks knuckles* :-)

She wants riches; she wants to do whatever she likes and lie in feather beds half the day and tell the world to go to hell if they don't approve.

That's what she always says, and I think she's managed to convince herself of that, but a person wouldn't be as DRIVEN as she is just by hedonism. Scarlett is absolutely, completely TERRIFIED of having to go through again what she endured right after the Yankees ransacked Atlanta. She's afraid of starvation and seeing her family die for lack of medical care. She's afraid that somebody could come put a claim on Tara. Most of all, she's afraid to her bones of having somebody come and take away from her everything she has, quite literally, sacrificed everything for, from her physical beauty to whatever limited decency she had in her heart. Observe how she hides money around the house while she's married to Frank, and how devastated she is when he and Mammy find it and confiscate it. That's the sort of hoarding behavior you see in children who've been starved. Yes, Scarlett wants to tell the world that has criticized her to go to hell, and she wants to lord it over them so they feel sorry, but it goes a LOT deeper than that. I think that's why Rhett takes *such* pleasure in spoiling her; it's his chance to pamper the scared little girl inside her, the only part of her that will ever open to him (like when she has her nightmares).

Only the self-centered irritability of a teenage girl, such as Scarlett is at the beginning of the book, could find so much to hate in such a sweet person.

I sort of disagree. Mind you, I adore Melanie. But when you look at it from Scarlett's point of view, not only is Melanie her main rival for Ashley's affection, but she's basically USELESS. She's shy and weepy and easily intimidated; she's physically frail and not much good when there's hard work to be done; she refuses to see cool logic, such as weeping when the war is over instead of being glad that they won't be pillaged again. Scarlett may be a lady by birth, but unlike her sisters, she's every inch her Irish-born father's tough, determined daughter. She'll work like a dog if she has to, and run over--or shoot--anybody that gets in her way, if that's what is required for survival. And people like that find people like Melanie IMPOSSIBLE to understand.

I think Scarlett's greatest problem is that she's too high-born for her genes. There's not one scrap of her nature that is ready or willing to be the placid wife of a plantation owner, working selflessly behind the scenes while her husband takes all the credit. Scarlett has a man's way of looking at things and a man's way of tackling them. She was a feminist way before her time--not coincidentally, like her creator (and her creator's mother and grandmother). Margaret Mitchell routinely turned the genteel Southern society in which she was raised on its ear as a teen, and she balked at its restrictions. It shows in her book, in spades. :-)

Does Melanie know about Ashley and Scarlett? Yes and no. I think part of her realizes that Scarlett is more attached to Ashley than a sister-in-law should be, properly. But I really do think Rhett (who is the shrewdest judge of character in modern literature, IMO) is correct when he maintains that Melanie is utterly incapable of imagining dishonorable intent in anyone she loves. If she admits to herself that Scarlett has improper feelings for Ashley, she must then consider that Ashley has improper feelings as well--and THAT she cannot do, for her own character to hold together. Melanie is a very simple person, little educated, sheltered; her world is a simple set of basic absolutes. I don't think she would have stepped outside those absolutes if *she* had been the one to find Scarlett and Ashley embracing at the mill. She would have concocted an explanation that fit inside her value set, and stuck with it until she died.

More in next comment...

May. 22nd, 2006 06:40 pm (UTC)
OK, ready to start answering! Will see how long Zach sleeps and allows me to type. That's one thing about having a baby; you don't get to write near as much as you might want. Thus my views here were oversimplified for such a complex book (I know; excuses, excuses), but it's fun to explore these issues anyway, so...

I have the problem Scarlett accused Ashley of: always seeing both sides of things. You never get anywhere that way! :) (I laughed aloud when she said that.) In a well written novel like this, it's especially easy to see both sides. So while I sometimes saw Scarlett's greed the way her social critics saw it (i.e., as a shallow undesirable trait), I also completely understood it, for the psychological reasons you name. And obviously Rhett did too--he, and maybe Melanie, were probably the only ones who did. Her father might have, had he survived.

And similarly, I saw both sides to Melanie; annoying vs. admirable. I have a tendency to get mad at people for getting sick, because they should have taken care of themselves, so I sympathized a little too well when Scarlett chases the Slattery girl off her property in a fury for "killing her mother" with typhoid. I never figured for a minute that Melanie would believe the adultery-at-the-mill story. I just thought, "Scarlett, make up anything you want to explain it. She'll buy it." But I can't decide if that's because she can't believe anything bad about the woman who saved her life a couple times; or because she understands their attraction and knows it's nothing to worry about, deep down. I wasn't entirely convinced Melanie was simple, by the end. Though she may just in fact have been the best and truest lady in Atlanta, as Rhett thought. As you say, he's a good judge of character.

I'd say Scarlett's biggest problem is her lack of self-knowledge. She ascribes inaccurate motives to her actions left and right, and not till the last few pages starts to get the truth. But she is also in a world that doesn't quite fit her: not having people be shocked at her for daring to go outside while pregnant, or be able to do math, would ease some of her problems too!
May. 19th, 2006 11:56 am (UTC)
Massive comment, Part II:

Will Scarlett get Rhett back? Qualified maybe. Her character has undergone an ENORMOUS change in the last ten pages of the book, and it's hard to say whether this new, enlightened Scarlett will be appealing to Rhett anymore. Part of her *charm* to him, as much as he protested, was that she was unattainable, with her heart seemingly forever given to another; it gave that ex-knife-fighting gold prospector a challenge, something to pit his wits against. Without that, and without her childish, Bonnie-like selfishness (which he loved to indulge), Scarlett is uncannily like any other 5,000 Southern women, raised with a morality that he finds useless and a mindset that annoys him.

But Scarlett's not stupid; she may be dense in social subtleties, but she's ten kinds of smart. Just like her lowborn father managed to win the daughter of one of Savannah's most prestigious families, Scarlett's not going to give up without a fight. She already has enough sense not to fling herself at Rhett's feet and beg; she manages to contain herself, earning his grudging respect. I think after Rhett's gone, and Melanie's funeral is managed, she's going to turn her keen mind to winning him back. And if she has to make herself over to become a woman who will appeal to him, I think she'll do that. She'll play Wade as a card, since Rhett's fond of him; she might even enlist Belle Watling. And maybe, once he sobers up and has a little longer to drag himself out of the pit of grief that he flung himself in after Bonnie's death, Rhett will look at Scarlett again and see something worth noticing. They *are* a singularly compatible pair, and I think each realizes it to an extent that will keep them both curious.

More in NEXT comment...
May. 22nd, 2006 06:45 pm (UTC)
Yep, have to agree with the "qualified maybe." On the one hand, they're so well suited, and my romantic mind would love to see a reunion. On the other hand, in real life it doesn't always work out like that. As Rhett said (paraphrasing here), sometimes love will not survive the crap it gets put through. Scarlett may not be able to wipe the slate clean with him; they're both bringing a lot of baggage. Maybe she'd be better off marrying someone imperturbable like Will Benteen, and just seeing Rhett once a year for wild sex spirited sparring.
May. 19th, 2006 11:59 am (UTC)
Massive comment, Part III (I warned you!!!!):

Politics and race relations... oh boy. Here's where even the book only scraped the surface. First of all, you have to realize that the VAST majority of Southerners who fought in the war were NOT slave owners. Most people couldn't afford slaves and really didn't give a rat's butt one way or the other whether the practice was outlawed or not, from a personal-impact standpoint. (Keep in mind that it had been outlawed in certain Northern states only a few years before the start of the war; the nation's mindset was hardly polarized by region in that respect). But Southerners were intensely, almost insanely, loyal to their INDIVIDUAL STATES. Robert E. Lee was invited to serve with the Union Army, but he declined because Virginia went with the South. He wasn't fighting for the Confederacy; he was fighting for *Virginia*. That difference matters, a lot.

That state loyalty gives one a stronger insight into why the South was so disturbed by the changes taking place in the U.S. government before the war. Most Southern states, while large in area, were small in population, and the structure of the U.S. Congress was letting the FAR more populous Northern states run roughshod over Southern interests. I'm not sure if financial bills originated in the Northern-majority House that far back, but I do know that Congress was routinely imposing tariffs and other financial levies that penalized the agricultural South in favor of the industrial North. The bargaining power and capacity for rebuttal of individual states was reduced to nearly nothing. And so, in an environment where a South Carolinian would just as soon have shot a Georgian as looked at him, and vice-versa, those low-population states banded their limited strength together to increase their bargaining power. Secession was a misguided move; Rhett's calm evaluation in the early chapters of the South's limitations was sadly accurate, and the expected foreign allies never weighed in.

The war was never particularly well received in the North; there was never a huge popular mandate for ending slavery by force, and the economic resources (not to mention the personal casualties) the war took quickly wore on Northerners' nerves. Had Lee won Gettysburg--which he lost by a very, very, VERY small margin--the street riots and other protests against the war that were taking place in the North probably would have forced Lincoln's hand, and he likely would have had to call a truce. I'm not saying this would have been a good thing for the country; hindsight, is, of course, 20/20. But it was a lot closer than people realize. For all their economic and military disadvantages, the Southerners were fighting to save their homeland and their way of life, and to keep their sovereignty over their own governance, and that's always a tough cause to beat.

Still more...
May. 19th, 2006 12:27 pm (UTC)
So, on the one hand, I understood the outrage of the Southerners, for having their states' rights ignored and martial law imposed and unfair rumors spread; but, on the other hand, we couldn't exactly go on allowing slavery, could we?

No, of course not. Not only is the practice morally abhorrent to most civilized and/or religious people, but it was beginning to affect the way the United States was viewed by "more progressive" nations in Europe, and the country was feeling the impact of those nations' disdain. But you have to consider, too, that a HUGE part of the Southern economy was based on the goods produced by slave labor, and losing that labor would have required a complete reorganization of the region's agricultural production system, if not retrofitting the region with the tools to conduct other industries besides agribusiness. Furthermore, slaves were *property*, owned just as surely as land or any other asset. And eminent domain has long been a treasured value of this country, the South especially; your property is yours, to use however you want and to defend with lethal force if need be, and the government CANNOT take away your property without providing sufficient economic recompense.

So. The South wasn't willing to gut its economic machine for the sake of morality; what nation would be? But neither was the North willing to reimburse the South adequately for the value of the property it demanded the South give up. Certainly a wiser approach, in terms of conflict avoidance, would have been to phase slavery out with economic incentives that encouraged development of other, more efficient (or more humane) means of production, but that would have taken, possibly, decades, and left the human-rights issues unaddressed. As it was, the infrastructure of many of the South's major cities was destroyed, and the economy of the entire region was shattered, leaving the North with the cost of occupying and rebuilding a very, very hostile conquered territory, so I'm not sure there was any valid financial gain there over what it would have cost to "pay off" the South for its slaves in the first place.

The Georgia folk are outraged that the Yankees would impose their slave-freeing mentality upon them, raising "darkies" to free status, insisting that they get to vote.

The voting was annoying, yes, in large part because the Southerners knew perfectly well the freed slaves would vote however their Yankee benefactors suggested, thereby extending indefinitely the Southerner's inability to manage their own destinies. Plus, the Southerners DETESTED the opportunistic carpetbaggers who came into office and sucked away the cream from a region that barely had enough to live on as it was. Oppressed people are rarely generous to their oppressors, and in this case you had two distinct sets of clashing peoples: the freed slaves rebelling against their former masters, often violently and with the tacit (if not outright) approval of the occupying forces; and the surviving Southerners, mostly women and children and old men and wounded young men, rebelling against forces that they perceived were holding them back from rebuilding their lives. It wasn't a particularly happy place to be, and life was HARD, harder than we can imagine in the present day. It's really not a wonder that the us-vs-them mentality formed in those years continued for so long, however wrong we might consider it now.

(still more to come...)
May. 23rd, 2006 03:44 pm (UTC)
Commenting to the two above comments...

Oy, yes--once again making me glad I have pulled away from politics lately. Someone's got to do it, but it doesn't gotta be me. ;) I have Ashley's problem here too, seeing both sides too well. Or perhaps, more cynically, I see that both sides screwed up their potentially worthy causes by bad behavior. I like to think that if the same situation arose today, the nation would handle it much better--outrages, at least, would be so quickly publicized that they might be lessened--but impatience is a national quality of ours, so possibly it wouldn't. Depressing thought. But hey, I'm glad you Southerners ended up still being within our borders. I'm finding I rather like a lot of you. ;) Sooo...on to the film!
May. 19th, 2006 12:45 pm (UTC)
But next up I should see the film again and kvetch about that.

Oh, I sincerely can't wait until you finish the film and log on to RANT about the changes. :-) It's a lovely and delightful motion picture, but there are places where they made changes to the story that MAKE NO SENSE OMG and also alter the characters to the point of unrecognizability.

Melanie in the film is wiser than Gandalf, and braver than Aragorn, and of course, neither of those is true. One change that makes me pull my hair out takes place at the benefit ball that Scarlett and Melanie have attended in mourning, much to the city's horror. Remember when Rene comes around collecting gold jewelry? In the book, Scarlett throws her wedding ring in the basket, largely because she's so annoyed at how it limits her now that she's a widow. Melanie, misreading the gesture with a loving heart, puts her own ring in, too, touched to tears by Scarlett's "bravery" and determined to match it even if it kills her. That incident is what really and truly catches Rhett's attention and makes him decide to pursue Scarlett. (And when he buys Melanie's ring back, as a way to get an invitation to their home, he doesn't bother to retrieve Scarlett's.)

But in the movie, it's *Melanie* who takes off her ring first, serenely putting it the basket with one of the tritest bits of dialogue ever written, and Scarlett throws hers in as an afterthought. WTF IS UP WITH THAT?!?!?!? It completely changes both their characters, and makes Rhett's subsequent invitation to dance puzzling at best. GAH. *shakes fist at Selznick's grave*

And Wade!!! How could they leave out Wade? Ella's minor enough to ditch, but Wade motivates a lot of Scarlett's more self-sacrificing behavior. The boy may be too simpering and wimpy for her taste, and he might be a constant reminder of the husband she didn't love, but he is her RESPONSIBILITY, and she will do whatever it takes to provide for him, up to and including murder. GAAAAAH! *kicks Selznick's gravestone*

And how could they leave out the Yankees ransacking Tara the second time, and almost burning it down? That's CRUCIAL, you dolts! And... and... GAH. :-)

Amusing anecdote: In the scene where Rhett gives Mammy a glass of rum to celebrate Bonnie's birth, the "rum" decanter was filled with tea, as is nornal in multiple-take scenes involving liquor. :-) But Clark Gable managed to sneak real rum into Hattie McDaniel's glass for the first take, and they kept it. WATCH her face. :D

Oh, and as for the 17-inch waist? You DID read the parts about Suellen fainting every time Mammy laced her smaller than 20 inches, didn't you? And the part about how no girl who was laced could do more than nibble without throwing it all back up? And the part about fainting when they danced? Thanks, but I'll stick with my nice loose waistbands. :-)

WHEW! That was fun!!!
May. 19th, 2006 03:18 pm (UTC)
*laughs with glee*

Just have to tell you you're awesome; and that I'll address all of this in more detail in a few days; but, for now, we're going to Oregon for the weekend. So, see you after that! And thanks for giving me stuff to think about in the meantime. :)
(no subject) - mollyringle - May. 23rd, 2006 03:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 19th, 2006 08:31 pm (UTC)
I will just pipe in randomly here. The last time I read GWTW was in junior high. We were a bit young to fully appreciate it. However, we did something really fun at the end of it. The school was next to this old, quasi-Victorian house that some nuns lived in. One afternoon, my class got to dress up in Victorian dresses and clothes and had a "Victorian Tea." It was a lot of fun. Our parents and a few other people were invited. As a surprise for our teacher Mrs. Kecy, the gym teacher had taught us a very simple Victorian dance. It was just delightful. ^_^ I'll post pictures, if anyone cares.

I know you'll most likely make a post about current casting for GWTW later, but I'd like to put in my vote for Hugh Jackman as Rhett Butler. ^_^
May. 24th, 2006 10:55 pm (UTC)
Mm, Victorian wardrobes. Such fun!

Y'know, I oddly do see a resemblance between Jackman and Gable, sometimes. I could go with that.
May. 24th, 2006 01:30 am (UTC)
And, Yes - I Do Read Just for Entertainment :)
Just a note on Southern Fiction (that may or may not be of interest)—

Mark Twain once said that Sir Walter Scott caused the War Between the States because he set “the world up to believe in dreams and phantoms… with silliness and emptiness… and sham chivalries, of a brainless and worthless long-vanished society.” Twain was referring to the impact Scott’s writing had on both the North and the South in terms of mythology.

Modern Southern sentimental wistfulness is part of antebellum nostalgia headily influenced by Sir Walter Scott in the years before there was a “bellum” to “ante”. His works influenced what became known as the “southern plantation myth” or the twilight-of-Southern-nobility. In the 1820s, Scott influenced numerous novelists who develop the plantation setting as an idealized literary world populated by Scottian archetypes. Plantation fiction, as inspired by Scott, became heavily marketed in the 1830s to Northern females and essentially made the Northeast view the South as a rather obsolete system of feudal land holding and man-owned labor that was fluffed itself up on its own honor and nobleness. Adversely, Scott’s concept of the chivalric cavalier made Southerners embrace a romantic code of ethics that was morally unattainable given the social structure of the time. As the literature reflects, the Northerners and Southerners began to see the South as "a place apart" in the early mid-1800s.

Following the Reconstruction, the cavalier and belle myths became exceedingly popular with Southern readers who used the heroics of aristocratic types to escape the horrors of what war and Reconstruction did to the morale of Southern society. The plantation was most often a backdrop despite the fact that plantations were only a small part of Southern culture—yet the plantation was needed as a credential indicating the nobility of class that paralleled the nobility of spirit.

Therefore, the burden of Southern society (pre and post Civil War era) is the fact that the plantation myth became the 19th century defense of slavery. Prior to the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which demonized the plantation myth, Northerners and Southerners bought into the fairy tale of the South as a redemptive region making up for individualist and capitalist sins of the North. The plantation myth of the 20th century furthered the Southern burden by idolizing the false romanticism of both ante- and post-bellum South—the duality of the Lost Cause mythology intermingled with intense suffering overcome by dignity, honor and moxie.

Regarding fiction, the shadow (curse?) of Sir Walter Scott was always over the South. The funny thing is that few plantations dotted the region, and most of those evolved only after the invention of the cotton gin in 1793. All in all, the plantation South existed in a tiny window of time of maybe thirty years. One thing to keep in mind is that while the Black experience was the plantation experience, the white experience essentially was not. The history of the majority of Southerners has been vastly ignored in fiction.

For example, white women in the South, despite the image of the hoop-skirted southern belle, suffered under heavier burdens than their Northern counterparts. They married earlier, bore more children, and were more likely to die young. They lived in greater isolation, had less access to the company of other women, and lacked the satisfactions of voluntary associations and reform movements. Their education was briefer and much less likely to result in opportunities for social interaction outside their families. Yet this image doesn’t really fit with the version of Southern femininity in Gone With the Wind.
May. 25th, 2006 12:35 am (UTC)
Re: And, Yes - I Do Read Just for Entertainment :)
Interesting! Sounds like that was definitely the version of things that Margaret Mitchell was taught while growing up in Atlanta.

So then, could we really blame the war on Ovid, as (if I remember correctly) the originator of the whole courtly love/chivalry philosophy? (Which supposedly was a joke, taken seriously in medieval times, revived by Scott, etc...)
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