Monday, August 6, 2007

Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

We have all heard of or seen the classic film with Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara and Clarke Gable as Rhett Butler, but have we read the novel? We should!

Set in Georgia, USA it tells of the American Civil War and its impact on the citizens of Atlanta and surrounding area.

We read how Gerald O'Hara, Scarletts father, obtains his plantation home in a game of poker, how he decides the home needs a mistress and he gets a wife in the form of Ellen. He builds Tara up making it one of the finest and most respected plantations and homes in the area.

Scarlett, the eldest child was like her father; hot headed, knew what she wanted and got it! She loved Ashley Wilkes from Twelve Oaks, the neighboring plantation, but she was loved by all the beaus in the area! He world crumbled, however, when she found the truth that Ashley was to marry Melanie Hamilton, an marrage that had been arranged for years. In a fit of pique, Scarlett agrees to marry Charles Hamilton, Melanies brother. At the same time, the war was announced, and all the young men rushed off to fight the Yankees. Two months into the war Charles dies, not a heroic death in combat, but of measles. Scarlett in plunged into black as a grieving widow, carrying his son.

Upon the birth of Wade, Scarlett is in depression. Ellen sends her to Atlanta with Wade, to Melanie and Aunt Pittypat, Charles and Melanies elderly maiden aunt. Here, Scarlett casues scandal. Her help in the hospital and other duties were deemed good, but her friendship with Rhett Butler was frowned upon. She had first met Rhett at Twelve Oaks, as the war was declared, there she thought him rude and arrogant. She also came out of mourning too early by the accounts of the busy bodies!

Rhett made his living by running the blockades, not fighting. The townsfolk of Atlanta thought he should be a part of the war, not profiteering from it. However, they did not turn away his bolts of cloth he managed to get through, or other fineries!

As the novel developes, we read about Scarletts torment living with Mellie, her anguish when Ashley comes home and returns to the front. We read how Scarlett delivers Mellies baby, Beau, with the laughable aid of Prissy, her maid. The heroic drive from Atlanta as it falls, back to Tara with Mellie in the back of the wagon having just given birth.

Scarlett finds Tara still standing, only just. Her mother had died, her sisters still very ill, and her father loosing his mind. Her faithful servant Mammy, and Geralds manservant Pork managing to only just hold onto things. Scarlett turns the house around from a crumbling decaying wreck, to a place of hope. The war is delared over, and subsequently Ashley makes his way home.

Scarlett married again for money, returning to Atlanta. Here she ran a buisiness, this was also frowned upon! She had vowed never to be poor again, and Scarlett was doing her best not to be. She sent money back to Tara to help the running of the house, but no one seemed to mind this! All through her times in Atlanta, she kept running into Rhett. When she fell pregnant by her husband Frank, she secured Ashley to work in her business, but continued to be seen about untill her obvious pregnancy was too obvious!

Frank Kennedy was killed because of Scarletts independence. She had gone to see one of the mills, and was attacked. To her aid came a former Tara worker, Big Sam. He returned her to Frank, and, although it was not mentioned there in the book, the Klan sought revenge. Rhett found out it was an ambush. The Yankees were lying in wait for them, and managed to save Ashley, but not Frank. Once again Scarlett was in mourning.

Rhett and Scarlett now come together! At last! They are married against wishes, as Scarlett should still be grieving. From this, Scarlett has another child, Bonnie. The apple of her fathers eye, she can do no wrong! Until....

....if you have not seen the film, you will need to read the book!

It is a shame this is the only novel by Margaret Mitchell, as it is fantastic! I am not a lover of the American Civil War, but the story of Scarletts gutsy approach to life and her determination to never be poor again is so well written.

Does Rhett say the famous line: Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn ?You will have to read it to be sure! As Scarlett says: Tomorrow is another day!

For more infomation:

A good read! Please try it if you have not!


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