A Civilisation Gone With the Wind.

Scarlett O’Hara

"After all, tomorrow is another day!"
-Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell.

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Katie Scarlett O’Hara

High-spirited, vivacious, charming, vain, ambitious and selfish, Scarlett O’Hara is by far the most iconic southern belle in literary and cinematic history. set against the dramatic backdrop of the American Civil War, Margaret Mitchell’s historical epic is an unforgettable tale of love and loss, of a nation mortally divided and a people forever changed. Above all, it is the story of the spoiled and manipulative daughter of a plantation owner, who must use every means at her disposal to overcome the challenges she faces within a nation forever changed by the civil war. But above all, it is the story of the turbulent affair between Scarlett O’Hara and the scandalous soldier of fortune, Rhett Butler.

Within the novel, Margaret Mitchell describes the character of a young woman who had ‘high spirits’; whose ‘vanity leaped to the aid of her desire to believe, making belief a certainty’; for whom ‘no pang of conscience at loving another woman’s husband distributed her pleasure in her youth’; and who believed that ‘the only time crying ever did any good was when there was a man around from whom you wanted favours’.  All these phrases characterize the impulsive southern heroine who had a ‘hard self-honesty’ about her, yet on critical occasions behave ‘like a child who still feels that to state a desire is to gain that desire’.

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Vivien Leigh, Gone With the Wind

As an atypical protagonist, especially as a female romantic lead in fiction, Scarlett O’Hara is presented as a calculating character. For example, Margaret Mitchell wrote; ‘Scarlett’s mind ticked on steadily… coldly and logically an idea grew in her brain. I’ll marry him, she thought…’. Scarlett’s nature demonstrates a deep and complex characterisation. This is because she ultimately thrives in her difficult situation in which she was born into, yet unprepared. As a result of this, her favourite phrases such as ‘fiddle-dee-dee’ and ‘great balls of fire’ have become modern catchphrases.

"As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again".
-Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell.

In particular, Scarlett’s spoilt attitude is displayed through her relationship with her Mammy. For instance, when asked to eat lunch before attending the Wilkes’ BBQ, Scarlett declares “No. I’m going to have a good time today and do my eating at the BBQ. The relationship between all three O’Hara sister’s also demonstrates Scarlett’s ruthlessness ff-scarlett1   when determination kicks in. most notably in David O.Selznick’s film adaptation Scarlett is seen to pull on her sisters hair in order to get Suellen to “hush” and immaturely stick her tongue out when annoyed.

With regards to finding a actress to play Scarlett O’Hara in the film version of Gone With the Wind , Vivien Leigh’s claim to fame also has feminist undertones. Largely unknown at the time, the English actress shows considerable comparison to the character of Scarlett O’Hara, apart from the fact that in the novel Scarlett is describes as ‘not beautiful’. Upon reading the novel for the first time the feisty actress declared “I’m going to play Scarlett O’Hara’. Although competing with hundreds of would-be southern belles along with leading american actresses such as Bette Davis, Vivien had set her heart of getting the role, whatever it took. She had been preparing herself for the part for years, she knew passages of the book by heart, the character was just her. She believed it was her. Vivien leigh travelled to america with her partner Laurence Olivier, determined to get an audition. David O.Selznick was filming the burning Atlanta scene when Vivien, fully dressed as a southern belle presented herself. Vivien Leigh was cast as Scarlett O’Hara. Winning an oscar for her portrayal of the manipulative Scarlett, the role of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind is considered to be the most famous and icon role in cinematic history.

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Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell.

 

"It will come to you, this love of the land. There's no gettin' away from it if you're Irish."

“It will come to you, this love of the land. There’s no gettin’ away from it if you’re Irish.”

 

" Ooh, if I just wasn't a lady!"

” Ooh, if I just wasn’t a lady!”

 

"It ain't fittin'... it ain't fittin'. It jes' ain't fittin'... It ain't fittin'."

“It ain’t fittin’… it ain’t fittin’. It jes’ ain’t fittin’… It ain’t fittin’.”

 

"You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how."

“You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how.”

 

"While Scarlett wasn't the most easy-going type, neither am I"
-Vivien Leigh.

Vivien leigh make up still.

Vivien Leigh make up still.

 

Scarlett's curtain dress.

Scarlett’s curtain dress.

 

Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable on set filming.

Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable on set filming.

 

Vivien leigh chain-smoked throughout production in order to deal with the demanding filming.

Vivien leigh chain-smoked throughout the production.

 

Vivien leigh won an oscar for her role of Scarlett O'Hara.

Vivien leigh won an oscar for her role as Scarlett O’Hara.

 

"Death, taxes and childbirth! There's never any
 convenient time for any of them."
-Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind.
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About Feminism Through Cinema and Literature

Hi, its Tia. From Cambridge, England. Avid reader, film watcher and feminist. Studying for an undergraduate degree in English Literature at York St John University. Hope you enjoy my blog and do feel free to leave a comment.
This entry was posted in Women in Cinema, Women in History, Women in Literature and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to A Civilisation Gone With the Wind.

  1. zareenn3 says:

    This was such an informative piece. Probably because I haven’t watched “Gone with the wind”. *hangs head in shame*.

    I enjoyed reading it and particularly loved the way you describe Scarlet’s character. See, I told you, women ARE complicated 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  2. gardenlilie says:

    Tia, very thorough writing on Scarlett’s character. It’s been awhile since I read it and I did that twice but I have to add a few things. Her sisters, her poor sisters who she seemed to stomp upon would never rise to the occasion like Scarlett. I believe she went after things, people and ideas. Her character was someone who couldn’t be put down, at least not for long. I love the way she kept getting up and figuring out what to do next. She remained passionate and loving even when she had no one, a winner in my book! Vivien Leigh gave life to that iconic character indeed.

    Like

  3. I really am digging your blog that I nominated you for an award, if that’s ok.

    Like

  4. emma york says:

    Beautiful movie and supreme Vivien Leigh! Your post is awesome once again!!!
    Big kiss for you

    Like

  5. hunterb31 says:

    Absolutely fabulous; a real pleasure to read such a great article regarding one of my favourite films.

    Liked by 1 person

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