Gone with the Wind

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

If I had to handpick my favorite heroine, it has to be Scarlett O’Hara. Hands down. I’ve certainly read my share of headstrong and willful heroines, but many of them fell flat when compared to Scarlett. You see, I have a soft spot for literary villains and, if the bad guy is well-drawn, multi-dimensional, and sympathic, I will root for the bad guy over the bland good guy any day. Unapologetically selfish, vain, narcissistic, pragmatic to the point of cutthroat, scheming and conniving, Scarlett O’Hara is no heroine; she’s a bonafide anti-heroine. She’s a force, an original, and now I truly understand why she’s the most beloved character of all time.

Since brevity is the soul of wit, I won’t get too much into the plot. I’ll assume you’ve seen the movie. In case you haven’t seen the movie, I ask you this: how can you call yourself my book/film soul mate and not have seen my all time favorite film? Tsk. Tsk. I lower my head in shame. You better rectify this breach in our relationship. *Shakes virtual fist* Rectify…

Okay. Enough threats. I decided to pick up Gone with the Wind because I was disappointed by all the pansy heroines out in the market today. Though I will not name names, you know the sissy girls of which I speak: the clumsy waifs driven hither and dither by the plot instead of DRIVING the plot.

Although Scarlett didn’t start the Civil War, it’s to her credit (more so the author’s) that the war read like it was created to inconvenience Scarlett’s Ashley-coveting endeavors. The magic of perspective, yo.

Scarlett is uber-selfish and her narcissism forbids her to suffer any conversation that doesn’t involve her as the center, and she’s something of a malicious beau-snatcher. So why you ask, do I admire her so? Because she unwillingly performs selfless and heroic deeds like staying with an ailing Melaine during the Yankee siege on Atlanta or looking after her kinfolks in the lean days after the war or whoring herself out to Rhett Butler to pay the taxes on Tara. So what if her heart wasn’t in it and she was more than reluctant to do good? It’s the deeds that matter! That said, if it came down to choosing teams—like in soccer—I want Scarlett on my team, then Rhett, then Melly. Um. Ashley will probably be the last person picked; he is as useless as “a turtle flipped on his back.”

The prose was flawless: unobtrusive enough to suck me in, elegant enough to warrant praise. Some authors have to slave to be good; some authors are just born talented. Margaret Mitchell falls in the latter category. I am one part in awe and two parts jealous of Mitchell’s writing superpowers.

P.S. I wish that there were more characters like Scarlett out in the market, particularly in the YA market. Am I the only one who thinks the YA genre could benefit with say, a vile scheming high schooler defending her turf against all odds?  YA heroes/heroines could still come of age, but wouldn’t it be more interesting if they came-of-age AND had strong wills AND did non-virtuous things BUT performed redeemable deeds? Character complexity, people. Just a suggestion….



10 thoughts on “Gone with the Wind”

  1. I’d be all for some seriously complex, malicious beau-snatching chicks in YA who do eventually redeem themselves through selfless and/or charitable acts. You’ve spotted a whole in the market — I trust you’ll do something to rectify that?!

    I have seen “Gone With The Wind” — in the movies, in fact, when they re-released it… and my parents thought it was “important” for my sister and me to experience it on the big screen. (They were right; it was pretty cool.)

    But the novel? That’s on my “to read before I die” list. Your review definitely has me tempted now, I’ll say that!

  2. Meg: Oh I’ll rectify it alright! I’ll rectify it by secretly wishing I wrote Gone with the Wind and writing flawed heroines with a selfish streak.

    Lucky you! I wished I saw GWTW on the big screen. One day…I will buy a very big tv and my dream will come true. Also, DO read GWTW. It had me at Hello *tear*.

  3. I loved this book too! I think I mentioned that before.

    My Grandma gave me an old copy of this book that she had in her collection, I treasure it. It even has 2 newspaper clippings in it from when GWTW came out at the movies. It is full of book facts and movie facts, one which talks about how Vivian Leigh refused to embrace Clark Gable in the beginning because of his foul breath due to dentures. I thought it was funny.

    Have you attempted to read “Scarlett’ That Alexandra Ripley wrote?

  4. Wendy: I heard from this book called Men of MGM (I think) that Clark Gable had foul breath. I want to try to forget that little tidbit if I could…

    Oh no. I don’t want to befoul my memory of GWTW by reading Scarlett. Have you read it? Does it live up to expectation?

  5. Absolutely not! It can’t because its not Margaret Mitchell. I needed to read it because I needed some type of closure between Rhett and Scarlett even if it is by another author.

    Mmmm, if I were to take a page out of your book I would say… C.

  6. Wendy: Have you seen Scarlett the TV movie? I saw the trailer and was horrified! It’s hard to picture other actors in classic roles. *whispers* Can you tell me what happened in Scarlett?

  7. I never saw the trailer, but once when I was a kid my older sister was watching it on tv. She liked it but I was weirded out because the actress looked nothing like Scarlett. I won’t watch it.

    Ummm, the truth is I read it once so long ago. I remember that she goes to meet Rhetts family in the hopes of winning him back. He’s there and they go back and forth, loving and hating each other. She winds up pregnant and in Ireland. She has land and has her baby. Rhett shows up to find her with his daughter (yes another daughter). Some stuff goes down and in the end they wind up together as a family. It was decent, and I remember that in it she learns how to think more of others… it becomes a more mature Scarlet.

    I had no idea that they actually sanctioned Scarlett as the official sequel to GWTW… interesting. I just googled, lol. I love google.

  8. I just read this entry and I LOVE that you LOVE GWTW too! It’s my ALL time favorite book and movie. I read “Scarlett”—complete disappointment! There is a rather recent book out called “Rhett Butler’s People” by Donald McCaig that takes the perspective of Rhett pre-GWTW, during, and post-GWTW. McCaig actually did a rather decent job depicting the famous characters, adding some filler details, and portraying a closure for Scarlett and Rhett, which left me quit satisfied. I highly recommend it!

    Have you read “Forever Amber,” by Katherine Winsor? If you haven’t, another great read with a cutthroat-Scarlettish-heroine. It was actually banned in the US when it was released in the ’40s. Definitely check it out!

  9. Jennifer: I love Forever Amber! Read it about 2 years ago. My favorite heroines are the ambitious, slightly villainous ones!

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