Many novels have been written about the Civil War and its aftermath. None take us into the burning fields and cities of the American South as Gone With the Wind does, creating haunting scenes and thrilling portraits of characters so vivid that we remember their words and feel their fear and hunger for the rest of our lives.
In the two main characters, the white-shouldered, irresistible Scarlett and the flashy, contemptuous Rhett, Margaret Mitchell not only conveyed a timeless story of survival under the harshest of circumstances, she also created two of the most famous lovers in the English-speaking world since Romeo and Juliet.
A monumental classic considered by many to be not only the greatest love story ever written, but also the greatest Civil War saga.
Being a fan of historical novels I thought Gone With the Wind a very thorough depiction of southern life before, during, and after the Civil War. It was an EPIC novel of survival whose setting and characters came to life and were so real they seemed to almost leap off the pages.
Scarlett O’Hara is young, vibrant, and desired by every young man in town. But Scarlett has eyes only for Ashley Wilkes, who is already promised to another. Through various husbands, war, and the aftermath, Scarlett foolishly holds onto her love for Ashley.
You guys…iCan’t with Scarlett O’Hara. I swear that girl could work a nerve! She is, without a doubt, one of the most despicable, vile, self-centered, and underhanded characters I’ve ever read about. I’m still trying to wrap my head around some of the stunts she pulled and wonder at how nobody ever did her bodily harm. But though I cannot stand Scarlett, I have a perverse admiration for her and a grudging respect. The girl has a very shrewd mind for business and an innate instinct for survival. She transcends her time and generation by doing what she must to provide for her family, including running her own businesses despite what anyone thinks about it. I just hate that all she ever did and accomplished was purely motivated by selfish reasons. I don’t know that she ever had any intentions toward anyone that didn’t somehow serve herself and in end up benefiting her. She didn’t even really give a second thought to her own children. While she is a great business woman, she is a horrible wife, mother, sister, and friend. By the end, I was left feeling about her as Rhett did, not giving a damn.
Now Rhett is an altogether different story. And while he had many of the same inherent qualities as Scarlett, Rhett always seemed to care more about people than he let on as evidenced by returning Mrs. Wilkes wedding ring, joining the war when he didn’t believe in it, and his great love for Scarlett and daughter Bonnie. He was honest to a fault, whether people wanted to hear the truth or not, and he was good to people. He was a great figure for Scarlett’s other children, helped to save the lives of all those who consistently shunned him, and treated Scarlett like she had actually had a brain. His honesty about who and what he was was refreshing. Yes he was a scoundrel, but he never denied it nor tried to hide that, and in fact at times gloried it in. But despite that he was still helpful to others without always being motivated by selfishness. In dealing with Scarlett I felt sorry for the man because he really did care for her. He was the one constant in her life, yet she never paid attention enough to recognize that. I thought Rhett Butler one of the most patient, honest, and kind bad boys to ever grace the pages of a book. His generosity and love are unparalleled and I hated to see his story end without him receiving the kind of love he deserved and had surely earned.
Gone With the Wind is full of a host of wonderful characters that all touch the heart and draw on your emotions in some way. Milly, Mammy, Ashley, Pork, Pitty Pat, and so many others served to build Scarlett’s world and round out her experiences. It is a very character driven novel, and Mitchell took care with shaping each and every one.
As a period piece, I’ve never before read such a long book about a character I despised, yet still loved the story. The history was on point while keeping the main focus on the characters. Overall I loved it, but one cannot read this lightly. Its a story of war and survival, which ultimately results in alienation and indifference…the kiss of death!
PS: I also watched the movie and Clark Gable is a handsome man! Dark, like a Pirate! (YES and YES!)
Filed in: Historicals, Reviews Tags: Historicals, Margaret Mitchell, Review