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The Gone with the Wind Thread

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The Gone with the Wind Thread

Post by kazoo on Mon Aug 08, 2016 8:18 pm

We discussed Gone with the Wind a little bit over on another forum and since the thread wasn't specifically dedicated to the movie/book an in depth discussion wasn't really appropriate, so I'm hoping we can pick up that conversation here!

I brought up GWTW, and Scarlett, as part of a discussion of inspirational fictional characters.  While Scarlett is quite complex, I do find that there is much about her to be admired.  Most of that can be summed up in this scene:



Prior to this scene, widowed Scarlett had just helped her sister-in-law Melanie thru a difficult birth and fled from an invading army only to return home and find her beloved mother had died and her father had been mentally affected by the loss.  Imagine that!  To top it off, Scarlett has a young son, her two sisters were very ill and Melanie was extremely weak and unable to care for her baby. With her mother gone and her father not capable, everyone turned to Scarlett to lead.  At this time I'd have to estimate she was probably not even 20 years old!  (In that context, that whole "lie, steal, cheat, kill surprised bit might be understandable?)

While Scarlett is a fictional character, author Margaret Mitchell was inspired by the real stories of strong, resourceful women who survived the Civil War.  While Scarlett has her flaws (as we all do) I really admire her determination and tenacity.  She did overcome devastating circumstances and thrived.  Sure she has her rough edges but I have to think I would never have been able to deal with all she had to.  I also do like how Mitchell gave the main two female characters such different personalities but both of them were so strong in their own way.  Sweet Melanie survived all that Scarlett did but at the same time didn't let the circumstances harden her.  I do think that's also important.  Perhaps Melaie was able to remain her sweet self because Scarlett was hard enough for both of them?  Something that is interesting to ponder...

I understand some parts of this story are controversial with our modern sensibilities.  But regardless, I really think that there is so much inspiration to be taken from these amazing characters and I hope that you guys might be interested in discussing all that we can learn from them!
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Re: The Gone with the Wind Thread

Post by kazoo on Mon Aug 08, 2016 8:40 pm

Something else I like, in the final scene:



Scarlett had just endured some other devastating losses (this is years after the events I describe in the OP, if that makes it better... I won't mention them so I don't spoil anything for those who don't know the story.) But as you can see, her husband Rhett just left her. Sure, she's upset but she turns it around quickly. She remembers what gives her strength (the plantation where she grew up, called Tara) plans to go there and figure out how to get Rhett back. No wallowing, just plain determination.
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Re: The Gone with the Wind Thread

Post by Night Eyes on Tue Aug 09, 2016 8:09 am

Thanks for this thread Kazoo

I havent watched the film in a while so my memory is a bit patchy, i did love watching it even with how long it was, but i do remember not being a fan of Scarlett and Rhett, i just remember thinking, wow what an unhealthy volatile relationship they have.

also wasnt she in love with her sisters husband?

I dont know she just seemed like a settler through out the film to me, but as i said it has been a while since i watched it so maybe i should watch it again Smile
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Re: The Gone with the Wind Thread

Post by kazoo on Tue Aug 09, 2016 2:35 pm

I think to keep some things in perspective, we have to remember Scarlett was only 16 when the story starts. That might help explain some of the impulsiveness especially at the very beginning of the story.

Scarlett only thought that she was in love with Ashley, who was married to her sister-in law, Melanie. Melanie was good hearted but she was not stupid. She knew Scarlett was no threat to her marriage and understood that Scarlett was really in love with Rhett before Scarlett even realized it herself.

Yes, Scarlett and Rhett's relationship was rocky, mostly because they were both afraid the other didn't want them so they were never honest about their feelings.

It's interesting that you see Scarlett as settling. And that's fine we can see things differently! It's always good to hear other perspectives, which is the whole point of the thread! I see Scarlett as being extremely pragmatic and understanding that sometimes we have to do things we aren't thrilled about to get us to a larger goal.


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Re: The Gone with the Wind Thread

Post by Evie on Tue Aug 09, 2016 3:01 pm

I'm so glad you made this thread, kazoo; I was looking forward to talking about Gone with the Wind with you! Alas, my book is at home, and I have only seen an abridged version of the movie, but I can go off what I know.

I admire Scarlett too. She may not be the nicest person in the world perhaps, but she has incredible grit and determination.



I may not totally like Scarlett all the time, but I certainly identify with her a lot more than I could ever identify with sweet, good Melanie. She seems a lot more believable as a character, though I guess that may be partly because she is in her own way a "modern woman". The thing is, despite her many faults, she also has some very strong virtues. Bravery. Intelligence. Independence. Passion. Self-confidence. Sure, her self-confidence ends up as vanity at times, but she definitely has loads of it.

Regarding the Scarlett-Ashley-Rhett "triangle" --- I believe that Scarlett and Ashley do love each other in a sort of way, but it is definitely not the right kind of love. Scarlett may be too strong for almost any man, and Ashley -- well, he always seems to be a particularly weak man. They may complement each other in some ways but I don't think they would have ever survived a marriage.
On the other hand, Rhett does belong with Scarlett -- they are both made of fire and passion and determination and stubbornness -- but then would their relationship ever really work if they stayed together? Well, I suppose with their grit they would simply make it work.
To me it's beautiful because these (inter)relationships are so complex and realistic. Besides, do any of the characters - perhaps besides Rhett and Melanie - know exactly what they really feel? Scarlett is blind to her own feelings for Rhett even though they have the perfect chemistry. Meanwhile, Ashley does admit he cares for her, though obviously in a different kind of way to how he cares for Melanie - but is he really a judge of how much or how little he feels? Which Scarlett does he love, the real one or just the wonderful qualities that draw him to her, the things that he himself lacks?
Scarlett realises late in the day that she was in love with an illusion and had built Ashley up to be something he wasn't -



At the same time I think that this kind of idealisation is a pretty normal part of romantic love. Even when it falls away, feelings can remain. In Scarlett's case, perhaps by that point they were more sisterly feelings, but I doubt she stopped caring for Ashley, in the same way that he never stopped caring for her. I also believe it is possible to love more than one person at once, albeit in different ways. But then, my views of love are heavily coloured by my own ideals and prejudices. I've had more than one "Ashley" in my life, and I still love these guys even though not in the same way as when the rose-coloured glasses fell off. I would like to think that Scarlett still cares for the real Ashley in some way, even though her feelings for Rhett were a more authentic (?) passionate love.

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Re: The Gone with the Wind Thread

Post by LittlemissSunshine on Tue Aug 09, 2016 3:20 pm

Oh I would love to participate but I can't remember if I have seen this movie.
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Re: The Gone with the Wind Thread

Post by Evie on Tue Aug 09, 2016 3:26 pm

Maybe you can participate just from looking at Youtube clips or Wikipedia @LittlemissSunshine? That's what I'm doing mostly, but then I do already know the plot. So I wouldn't want us (and Youtube and Wikipedia) to spoil it for you!!

Some questions I think this story and our discussion raise:

1) How come Scarlett is in love with Rhett without even knowing it? Is it really possible to have feelings for someone without realising? I suppose in some cases feelings may be sublimated (e.g. into hate of some kind) on a conscious level, while the love remains in the subconscious... think, for example, of Lizzy Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. I think she loved Darcy long, long before she realised it. But how do we date that love - from when she began to realise his good qualities? I think it was maybe there even before that - but in that case, is love some sort of primal instinct? Can attraction be called love even where there is dislike? How does one define "love"?

2) Would Melanie ever have been able to do the things that Scarlett did? I don't mean being a selfish man-eater (though I doubt Melanie could manage that ahem), I mean things like running things at Tara... Melanie may have her own quiet sort of vigour and backbone, but aren't Scarlett's character flaws ultimately also her strengths?

3) [And this is me playing Devil's Advocate, not totally serious, but still - ] Did Rhett mostly want Scarlett because he wanted to win her over - because she in her stubborn refusal to fall for him (on the surface) was more of a challenge than anyone else, and he needed to "conquer"  her just as much as Scarlett had a need to win the heart of Ashley, almost the only man to never show her much attention?

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Re: The Gone with the Wind Thread

Post by kazoo on Tue Aug 09, 2016 3:47 pm

Thanks Evie!

Ashley is drawn to Scarlett as being everything that he is not. It's natural for that to happen, and sometimes those types of relationships can work. As you say, they can compliment and balance each other. I do believe that there is a kind of love between them, a fondness and a caring but it's not the same as what she had with Rhett. It's kind of like the fondness you might carry for your first love or first crush or childhood sweetheart. And then there is a genuine bond just over all that they shared together. They grew up on neighboring plantations so it can be assumed they knew each other their whole lives and they became family when Scarlett married Charles and Ashley married Melanie. They survived a war, and had to rebuild together afterward.

In the beginning of the movie when Scarlett expresses her interest in Ashley to her father, Gerald isn't a fan of the potential match. It's explored more in the book, but the Wilkeses are considered a bit odd. Gerald tells her it doesn't matter who she marries as long as he's a Southerner and thinks like her. (The Wilkeses don't.) When Scarlett confesses her feelings to Ashley, Ashley says he's going to marry Melanie because she's like him and understands him. So it seems that others recognize the soundness of having a partner who is like you while she doesn't. Ashley can still have a genuine fondness for Scarlett, and admire everything that she is that he's not, but it's not the same as what he feels for Melanie because they genuinely understand each other while he and Scarlett don't.

Rhett recognizes from their first encounter that he had met his match with Scarlett. Scarlett intends to insult him by saying he's not a gentleman, (he knows he's not a gentleman, lol) and he responds by saying she's no lady. Which is what makes them so right for each other.

Rhett and Scarlett are both definitely stubborn. Scarlett stubbornly clings to the idea that she and Ashley shared more than they really did. (Haven't we all been guilty of that at some point!?) And both Rhett and Scarlett were stubborn about admitting their feelings for each other which is what prevented them from settling in to a genuinely happy relationship with each other. I guess that's something we need to do-first be honest with ourselves, and then be honest with each other!


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Re: The Gone with the Wind Thread

Post by kazoo on Tue Aug 09, 2016 4:08 pm

We were writing our replies at the same time, but thanks for the questions, I think they make for interesting topics!

1) One theme in the book is how Scarlett more than anything wants to be a "great lady" like her mother. That may have played a role in her clinging so tightly to the idea of Ashely and her denial of her feelings for Rhett. No "great lady" would fall in love with someone as scandalous as Rhett. A great lady marries a proper gentleman. (Which is ironic considering that her own father was a bit of a controversial choice for her mother to make...)

Anyway, I think sometimes I think we get so stuck on the idea of something (in her case, Ashley) that we don't see anything else, including our own feelings about someone else. There is also an element of self protection there. Rhett never admitted his true feelings either, so it was easier for her to deny hers.

2) Melaine DID have her own quiet strength, but I don't think she really could have done all of the things Scarlett did. The fact that Scarlett was a "man eater" (tho not entirely selfish!) is what ended up saving them. Scarlett offers herself to Rhett to get the tax money to save Tara, and when that didn't work she set her sights on Frank. She did that to keep her vow that she and her family were not going to go hungry. She did it as much for her family as herself.

3) That's a very interesting observation and one I hadn't considered! How true is that! Scarlett had men falling all over her and she wanted the only one who didn't. I do think the challenge of winning Scarlett over when he knew from their first encounter that she had feelings for someone else was part of what attracted Rhett to her.
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Re: The Gone with the Wind Thread

Post by Night Eyes on Wed Aug 10, 2016 11:08 am

I love all the different perspectives here, I think i'm going to watch the film tonight so i can comment a bit more on it as i think i just watched it through a different lense to you guys.

I thought Scarlett and Rhett were awful together, the way the treated each other throughout the film if that was a real life relationship it would have been completely toxic

and the guy she did marry to save Tara i dont know, i just felt she sold out, i understand why but, maybe the modern world gives us more options, i dont know, it just didnt seem right to me.

anyways i shall comment more later once i've watched it again Smile
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Re: The Gone with the Wind Thread

Post by LittlemissSunshine on Wed Aug 10, 2016 11:17 am

Ohhh is it on Netflix? I want to watch it too!
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Re: The Gone with the Wind Thread

Post by Night Eyes on Wed Aug 10, 2016 11:18 am

i've not seen it on Netflix but i'm sure you could find it somewhere to watch it

you can watch a lot of films on youtube these days can't you?
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Re: The Gone with the Wind Thread

Post by Evie on Mon Aug 15, 2016 11:22 am

Here it is, LMS! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-A7tcOjxltc

I will be back to you soon, @kazoo - just have to get a few terrifyingly large, ominous tasks with imminent deadlines done before I can use my brain for pleasure again. pale (writing anything intellectual that is not work is strictly off-limits at the moment!) In the meantime though, I love your answers!

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Re: The Gone with the Wind Thread

Post by Evie on Sun Sep 25, 2016 12:41 am

Just bumping this thread to see if anyone has any more thoughts. I picked up my GWTW book again last night in the first time in ages, but I don't have anything to contribute just yet, though a few vague things are simmering in my mind. Apart from anything else, I remember reading an article that suggested that Rhett and Ashley are not that different - that even Rhett is actually a bit of a coward, because he has trouble admitting his feelings for Scarlett.

Here it is: http://www.shmoop.com/gone-with-the-wind/rhett-butler.html (***spoilers***)

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Re: The Gone with the Wind Thread

Post by Night Eyes on Sun Sep 25, 2016 1:03 pm

I did watch the film through back when the thread was started

I ended up feeling pretty sorry for Rhett in the end, and i just couldnt take to Scarletts character, I just found her selfish and unkind.
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Re: The Gone with the Wind Thread

Post by kazoo on Sun Sep 25, 2016 4:48 pm

As usual, I was about to come back to this thread to find it had just been bumped!

NE, As a history major in college and major history geek I might have some better understanding of the circumstances of the Civil War than some others, so I'll shed a little light in response to your comments about the options Scarlett may have had.

Under Reconstruction (the period after the War) the North took control and things were indeed quite dire in the South. It took them generations to really catch up to the rest of the country. Again, there is a lot more detail in the book, but there were very few Southerners who had any resources at all.  Their economy was so tied to slavery with that gone they had to rebuild from scratch.  Their money was worthless, the Northern Army left nothing but destruction everywhere and a huge number of men died in the War leaving widows and orphans to figure out how they were going to survive.

Many of the Southerners who did thrive were those who were willing to do business with the Northerners and they were essentially considered traitors and were shunned by other Southerners.  (As we see with Scarlett and her mill.)

The Northerners in control really did make things miserable for the South and did things like setting impossibly high taxes so they could take their property.  As Scarlett said, $300 (I can't even imagine how much that would be in today's dollars, must be a fortune!) may as well have been $3 million.

So Scarlett really didn't have a lot of options.  Ashley was worthless.  Rhett unable to do anything...so that left Frank, one of the few Southern men with a business that was doing well enough to get her tax money.  It's not something she would have done if she had another choice.  I definitely felt bad for Frank.  He shouldn't have been used that way.  But Scarlett was desperate, her family facing homelessness, and was left to do desperate things (like basically offer herself up as a prostitute to Rhett...) in order to save the family plantation for herself and her family.  Remember, she vowed they would never be hungry again, no matter what she had to do to prevent it.
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Re: The Gone with the Wind Thread

Post by kazoo on Sun Sep 25, 2016 5:00 pm

As I mentioned in my last post, I wanted to come back to this thread to post some exciting news! In a few days I will be taking a trip to Atlanta with my mother!! I am sooo excited to be able to visit Margaret Mitchell's house and all of the GWTW related sites. It's gonna be such a fun trip and we plan on listening to as much of the audio book in the car on our drive there and back as we can. (The audiobook is 49 hours long!) It's been a few years since I've read the book, so it will be a great refresher. I'll be watching the movie for the millionth time before I go too.

I'll definitely have more to post when I return (and before I go too, I'm sure!) As you can tell, I love this discussion and appreciate everyone sharing their thoughts!
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Re: The Gone with the Wind Thread

Post by kazoo on Sun Sep 25, 2016 5:04 pm

Evie, thanks so much for bumping this thread and sharing that link!  I have to run out for a bit but I'll definitely give it a read and respond when I get back!
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Re: The Gone with the Wind Thread

Post by Night Eyes on Mon Sep 26, 2016 7:12 am

Yes Kazoo I can see that, I wouldnt have been watching the film through that lens or taking things like that into consideration.

I think now I didnt post on here because at the time I didnt want my opinion the upset you lovely ladies who love the film so much, but even with the knowledge of the history, I still find it hard to change my opinion of Scarlett.

Struggles or not she spent most of the film trying to get her friends man, she stole her sisters potential husband, and then treated Rhett like complete dirt the entire film, just to realise she loved him once he had enough and left her.

For me (history not taken into account I know) she should have been valuing the people not the farm. It's easy to vow never to go hungry again, but to trample over your nearest and dearest is another thing.

I hope i'm not offending with my views x
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Re: The Gone with the Wind Thread

Post by Evie on Mon Sep 26, 2016 8:35 am

Thanks for your posts kazoo! I look forward to our discussion unfolding further. nodding

@Nighty - I don't think you're offending anyone! I don't think Scarlett was really meant to be the most "likeable" character. In another context, she might have been called an anti-heroine (and I think the term "anti-hero" is indeed accurately applied to Rhett). As kazoo pointed out earlier, Scarlett's "maneater" persona actually helps them survive. I suppose all this brings up the question - are basically immoral acts sanctionable if they are done for the greater good? It's a slippery question and I think it really depends on the context in which it is asked. Is killing one person to save five people a good thing? I don't think so. Utilitarianism is essentially problematic, in my view. Not least because the way we judge the utility of a certain action can be essentially flawed (we are human, so our judgements are often wrong) -- and then there is really no good reward for doing a bad thing. It is also incompatible with basic justice and human rights (e.g. your boat will sink unless you throw someone off - do you throw off the disabled person to save everyone else?).

Coming back to Scarlett -- she isn't killing anybody. She isn't throwing anybody off a boat. She marries men she doesn't love, and chases after a man she does love - who is married already. But she marries in order to save Tara and the people in it. She is running an estate, and she needs money. Thinking back to Jane Austen novels gives us the kind of picture of marriage in the past -- at one time, it was actually normal to marry for money, and not normal to marry for love. Perhaps things were usually  less mercenary in the Old South than in Regency England (kazoo will know), but given the Civil War, Scarlett had little choice. There doesn't in fact appear to have been any deep attachment between Frank and Suellen, so Scarlett wasn't really stepping on her sister's toes as much as might at first appear anyway. What Scarlett actually did, throughout GWTW, was to make a series of self-sacrifices. Yes, she can sometimes be selfish, but the way she acts for the greater good is basically selfless and - unlike people who would sacrifice one life for many lives - does very little harm to anybody. You see it's impossible to separate Tara from the people Scarlett loved - it is the livelihood of many. If there had been some great love between Suellen and Frank it might have been more morally complex, but there wasn't - so Scarlett made a practical choice that had practically no negative impact on anyone she loved.

As to chasing after Ashley even after he is married --- it can seem hard to have sympathy for her for doing this, but I do feel sympathy for her nonetheless. The attachment between Ashley and Scarlett wasn't meant to be. Scarlett had a lot of trouble accepting that - of course, she should have done, for Melanie's sake. But look at it from another view - I don't think Scarlett believes Ashley loves Melanie; in her mind, the only true bond is that of love, not of marriage (especially if marriages were indeed often arranged, practical affairs). Even if Ashley didn't love Melanie, it wouldn't be kosher to tempt him away; but on the other hand, I don't think I would actually want a husband who didn't love me and who wanted to go away with somebody else. So in a certain sense if Ashley hadn't loved Melanie he would have been doing her a favour to leave with Scarlett. Nonetheless that would have remained wrong on other levels even if Melanie had been okay with Ashley leaving her if he hadn't loved her - Melanie and her child needed someone to look after them and provide for them. They were by no means independent. Scarlett was blinded by love so I think she didn't even begin to think of the consequences of her actions in that way --- she was selfish. Again, I don't think she was right in how she behaved at all, but I would still argue that Scarlett's tempting of Ashley is less black-and-white than it might seem at first glance, especially from her point of view.

I will confess - I find Melanie and Ashley rather boring as people. For all her vices, Scarlett is still more real. Obviously, Melanie is "the perfect lady" of that time --- but I still doubt that anyone could be that perfect. I don't know - as a character I find her a bit one-dimensional. Same goes for Ashley.



As for Rhett - I'm afraid I can't really find as much sympathy with him as Night does. Yes, he is a likeable, perhaps lovable rogue, but if I had been in Scarlett's place I'm not sure I would have treated him much differently. If Scarlett deserves to be judged for doing wrong in chasing after Ashley and breaking some other rules along the way, Rhett deserves to be judged ten times as much. Scarlett is a fiance-stealer and a wannabe homebreaker -- but Rhett is a murderer. Of course again, we come to the question - is it alright to treat someone badly just because they are in themselves bad? No, of course not. But Rhett was most certainly no angel to Scarlett, and how she behaves towards him is arguably self-protection. He is a womaniser on the wrong side of the law, and even after marrying Scarlett he sleeps with someone else. How is that her fault? Was she meant to be happy about that sort of behaviour? We might argue that there is a certain symmetry to Rhett cheating on Scarlett when Scarlett attempted to cheat with Ashley -- but somehow I find Rhett much more to blame. Scarlett loved Ashley, and in her mind he should never have married someone he did not love; love between two people is sacred to her (at least if it is her love...). Rhett loved Scarlett. He took another woman, I'd argue, simply because he wanted more variety in bed.

I should add as a reminder - I still have never seen the film from beginning to end. Nor have I even read the book from cover to cover. I've read parts of the book for my own amusement during times when I really should not have been reading anything except non-fiction, and various articles online, in addition to a number of YouTube clips and film excerpts, so for now please excuse me if I my posts are flawed as a result.

P.S. Speaking of Melanie --

http://time.com/3768918/joan-fontaine-olivia-de-havilland/

She was a lot less demure in real life. And I find it amazing to see her in GWTW because I remember her most from My Cousin Rachel with a young Richard Burton -- she was a femme fatale in that.

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Re: The Gone with the Wind Thread

Post by kazoo on Mon Sep 26, 2016 10:23 am

No worries NE, I agree and don't think anyone is offended if you don't like Scarlett! I actually got a male friend to watch the movie with me once and all he could say was "What a bitch!". Lol. She's a complex character and does some not so nice things, so I completely understand where you're coming from.

If it makes you feel any better, Scarlett's sister does end up marrying someone better than Frank in the book and ends up being happy.

As to the "greater good" question you ask Evie, Scarlett knew that if Suellen married Frank that Suellen wouldn't have used Frank's resources to help the family or save Tara. She actually thought of Suellen as being the selfish one. So she did justify to herself that "stealing" him was the right thing to do. Frank's death is one of the few times in the movie that Scarlett is shown as having regrets for her actions but as Rhett points out, if she had to do it all over again she'd do no differently.

Of course (as always) the characters were more dimensional in the book than in the movie: Scarlett isn't quite so ruthless while Melanie isn't quite so incredibly saccharine all the time either.

That was an interesting article you posted Evie! I had thought of the similarities between Ashley and Rhett (they, along with Scarlett, were the only characters in the book who were not really true believers in "The Cause".) It's sooo true- if either man had just been honest with their feelings all of their lives would have been so different!

The reason Scarlett carried a torch for Ashley for all of those years (the novel spans 12 years...) is because Ashley was never direct with her. Ashley probably liked the idea of a woman like Scarlett carrying those feelings for him (even if it was just subconsciously) so he threw her little scraps of hope that left her dangling. And she held on. Rhett assumed he could never win Scarlett's heart as he thought it belonged to Ashley and he wasn't brave enough to just tell her directly that he loved her.

I think it's a situation we can all relate to. Hopefully we don't delude ourselves for 12 years, but it's pretty common to believe what we want to believe when we have feelings for someone. Sometimes we settle for the crumbs they give us while it's clear to everyone else that it's a "he's just not that into you" situation.

And how often do we let our fear of rejection keep us from being honest about our feelings as in Rhett's case? Again, hopefully we don't keep that bottled up for 12 years, especially when we are in a position to make the relationship work, but it has happened to all of us at some point. Perhaps it does make Rhett a "coward". I think calling him a coward is a bit harsh but I understand where the writer is coming from.
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Re: The Gone with the Wind Thread

Post by kazoo on Mon Sep 26, 2016 11:24 am

Evie, I wanted to add that your observations about marriage during the time period in question are definitely helpful in putting a lot of this in context.  It's true, while the marriages may not have been technically "arranged" as we think of it, they definitely were more practical than we think of today.

Scarlett was married for the first time at 16.  And as I mentioned earlier her father wasn't too concerned about who Scarlett loved, it was more of a matter of just finding a young man from a similar background and it would work out and love would come over time if it wasn't there in the beginning.

It was understood with the Wilkes that they married their cousins.  So Ashley and Melanie's marriage had that dimension there and it was another reason that Scarlett could justify to herself that their marriage wasn't based on love but more so obligation and expectation.  She thought he could be married to Melanie but love her.

Suellen and Frank had an understanding, but not a formal engagement.  Not that it makes it any better but when you think of it as a time when real love often comes AFTER marriage rather than before, it kinda makes it less of a loss for Suellen.  It's not that I am trying to justify what Scarlett did, but rather put it into context.  

Suellen was more concerned with being an old maid than really losing Frank specifically.  It was a time when women were expected to marry young and her prospects weren't great even before the War. After the war when standards weren't strict and eligible men weren't as abundant, Suellen ends up marrying a man who wouldn't have been considered appropriate before the war because he came from a poor family.  But with everyone being poor after the war that hardly mattered.  It was another practical but successful marriage, as they stayed at Tara to help run things while Scarlett lived in Atlanta.

Frank is one of the few people I really feel sorry for in the book.  I don't think Suellen truly loved him but rather he was one of the few men to show her interest and he was hardly a lady's man, so that's where their understanding came from. Then he married Scarlett and she was awful to him.  I don't think she was really awful to Rhett, but she was horrible to Frank.  He just had the kind of personality that grated on her.  He couldn't help that and it wasn't his fault of course, it was just who he was.  He did the best he could to be a good husband and their personalities just didn't mesh even for any sort of friendship or friendly affection to develop as might be the case if a true love doesn't.  

That was the case with Scarlett's parents.  They had more of a friendship/fondness kind of love rather than a passionate romantic love.  At least on her mother's side anyway.  That was just the way it was then everyone was pretty much expected to marry and love wasn't the main focus, unlike like today when we can wait until we find the right match if we want.
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Re: The Gone with the Wind Thread

Post by Night Eyes on Mon Sep 26, 2016 3:14 pm

I can only assume the book does give a better dimension and story to the film as some of what you ladies are talking about, really didnt come across to someone like me who was 'just watching' with no idea what it was meant to be about or the back stories that usually go far more in depth in the books.

Ashley never came across to me as reciprocating the Love Scarlet had for him, i saw it as he just saw her as a silly infatuated girl.

I did find it sad that poor Melanie having put up Scarlett's behaviour and her obsession with Ashley. It just seemed like she just didnt care how it made Melanie feel.

I think Rhett slept with other women during the marriage because Scarlett told him she wouldn't be intimate with him again, and he was to find it elsewhere if he must? I dont condone either of them cheating but Rhett knew he was in a loveless marriage.

I think a lot of this comes down to personal Morals and Values.
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Re: The Gone with the Wind Thread

Post by kazoo on Mon Sep 26, 2016 3:43 pm

It's true NE.  Ashley is so darn wishy-washy about EVERYTHING it's hard to understand what Scarlett even sees in him.  She is very clear about her feelings for him when he mostly just does nothing to discourage her feelings rather than actually actively lead her on.  He always responds to her with a lot of double talk that she can interpret as she wishes.  He should have just been completely clear from the beginning.  

I think if anyone is selfish in the story, it's Ashley.  He knows he loves Melanie, and that his feelings for Scarlett are like Rhett feels about Belle Watling (as Scarlett realizes at the end.)  It must have been an ego boost or something for him, and there was a genuine attraction to her so he kept it up for years.  It was incredibly selfish of him to not just tell her he loved Melanie and that she should give up any hope with him especially after he had to see she could have had true happiness with Rhett.  (If Melanie saw that he had to have seen it too...)

And you are right, Scarlett was cold to Rhett and he looked elsewhere.  He had his physical needs met by Belle and he doted on Bonnie to fill some of the void left by Scarlett's coldness.

It's really a shame because at the end of the film when they finally talk about their feelings they just couldn't get on the same page at the same time.  There were so many "near misses" that they could have come to a better understanding sooner if only they weren't both so stubborn.
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Re: The Gone with the Wind Thread

Post by Evie on Mon Sep 26, 2016 11:31 pm

It's interesting, because there are always Goodreads discussions as to whether X character "really loved" Y character when it comes to GWTW (and some other books too where the relationships aren't clear-cut). To me, it's what makes the story so fascinating - it's dubbed one of the greatest love stories of all time, but often, neither we nor the characters are sure who loves whom.

When it comes to Ashley and Scarlett, I always had the strong impression that he did love her, and that his feelings for Melanie were more on the brotherly/companionate love side. He's definitely selfish in not being more firm with Scarlett - while he doesn't really lead her on he definitely allows her to think of him as loving her. But IMO that was always true and he just can't deny it, though in the context he really should have.

In the book, in the rejection scene at the beginning of the story, where he tells her he's going to marry Melanie, he is obviously going through a lot more emotion than the actor can portray. When Ashley tells Scarlett he does care for her, the things that happen to his face scare Scarlett - and the way he says he cares terrifies her more than if he'd said he loathes her. During the scene, his face is at first "a mask" - one that studiously avoids showing his emotions - but then the mask falls off and he looks terrible. I don't think he's lying to make it better when he says he cares. In the context, the only way I can interpret it is that he does love her; he doesn't see her as a sister or even just a friend. She has his heart - and then he admits he's a cad for admitting it when he's going to marry Melanie - a cad to Scarlett and an even worse cad to Melanie. He is marrying Melanie because they are alike, and he knows the marriage would work. In my opinion, yes, he does love Melanie too, though it is a much quieter sort of love (even though, what with Ashley's wishy-washiness, I doubt he would ever be capable of the kind of passionate love Scarlett and Rhett both feel -- but I think his attraction to Scarlett is stronger than his attraction to Melanie, and has more of the ingredients of passionate love).

I guess it really all comes down to interpretation, and depends on how you define "love" in the first place. In any case, the book is infinitely richer and more complex than the film (Vivien Leigh purportedly used to walk around set carrying the book when Selznick was made director, to show that she thought he was making only a pale imitation of the book), and human psychology itself is more complex than can ever be portrayed in a book. Lacan defines love as "giving something you don't have to someone who doesn't exist" - this definitely applies to Scarlett's love for Ashley - again -



...there are (at least) two ways of looking at it, either she never really loved Ashley at all, just the idea of him, or she did in fact love him in the most typical way one can love someone - probably most authors (inc. Lacan) would agree that idealisation is at the very heart of romantic love.

In my view, Ashley did love Scarlett - he idealised her in a way he couldn't idealise Melanie. Scarlett was the one who got away, the impossible girl (with apologies to Doctor Who), the one he could never have but wanted. He loved her for all the things he wasn't, and that is common in love too, we are attracted to characteristics in someone else that we wish we had ourselves. Nonetheless, the ego boost factor would have definitely been there. I think he had trouble pushing Scarlett away totally not just because he liked her, but because he liked being liked by her. Nonetheless, I would argue that the very fact that he subconsciously enjoys being desired by Scarlett is a clue that his feelings are real - from what I can tell, and from writings on male psychology by Huxley that have coloured my view of men ever since I was a teenager, a man who genuinely has no interest in a particular girl has no need to be admired by her either (women feel flattered by the attention of guys they don't care about, but men tend to avoid girls they're not interested in).

In the end it is a complex story about complex emotions. I don't think any of them were cut and dry. As we discussed before, Rhett's love for Scarlett may have been prompted partly by the challenge, by the fact he could never (till the very end - when he left!) "get" her, while Scarlett's feelings for Rhett were unconscious for most of the book/movie. I suppose the way she seemingly loathed Rhett should have given her a clue. He always brings out something strong in her, makes her go against social norms even though what she wants most in the world is to be a Great Lady...... he gets a stronger response, we might argue, than Ashley gets from Scarlett, even though she can't see it - the chemistry and attraction she has with Rhett is so much greater. None of these loves are one-dimensional, or simple, or easy to explain.
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