*spoilers all around*
How did Margaret manage to create such wonderful characters and dialogue? Over 10 years of blood, sweat, and tears I bet. I watched bits and pieces of the film when I was in elementary school and didn’t think much of it. Like Star Wars, this was a famous epic cultural hit that did not resonate with me until much later. Now I cannot praise this novel enough, I could almost be a Windie this book shot up high on my list. Writing is an art and this is arguably the Pieta of the literary world.
”You go to Halifax!”
A coming of age and survival story starring a lady with dark hair and green eyes; my favorite combination for a heroine. I used to always draw and write featuring women with those features, wanting so badly to have them myself. Much like Anna Karenina or Katherine Pierce, we see an anti hero who discards honor or tradition and wins worst mother of the year in their respective timelines. Her tenacity as she was thrust from spoiled princess to desperate pauper status is admirable. She changed and hardened as she went on the hard road to believing that money is everything. It’s hard not to feel for her as she realizes everything she was taught was useless and used any means necessary to survive as the leader providing for her desolate household. Tossing aside any concerns of tact or decency, she justifies her actions by saying “I’ll worry about it tomorrow” letting go of the past without remorse and striving for the future.
She did not understand Rhett, nor did she trouble to understand him, though there were things about him which occasionally puzzled her. There was the way he looked at her sometimes, when he thought she was unaware. Turning quickly, she frequently caught him watching her, an alert, eager, waiting look in his eyes.
Poor blind fool. She thinks if a man was in love with her she could use it to her advantage which is normal temptation. Scarlett’s realization of what Rhett meant to her after running through the fog to go home to what she truly needed was beautiful but it’s all tainted and ruined because she was much too late. She may be extremely flawed but she was damaged and hardened, living in conditions that were hell and crumpled the minds many who never recovered. That just tore me up. I could hardly condemn her for loving Ashley without rhyme or reason at first sight and even after he married another she remained his – which is practically my life. When we fall in love we always fill in our ideals and hold onto an illusion, and it may take a long long while until we sober up.
And, for the first time, some of the bright glow which had enveloped him since the first day she fell in love with him began to fade imperceptibly.
She is forthrightly vain, manipulative, and pragmatic. True to her name, she lives with passion and fire. I know her very well. She lived the same number of years as I have but had seen and done things I can never know.
“Death and taxes and childbirth! There’s never any convenient time for any of them!”
“What luck,” he said softly, “to find you alone.”
Omg, this hot rascal. He ignored the conventions of the day and shrewdly made his fortune while the South was being destroyed. An educated and well traveled man, he broke through social conventions and was not a fool when it came to business or personal matters. He had no one to put him in his place and could disrespect anyone without fear before he had to consider his daughter’s future. Unfortunately he had to take pains to hide his irrevocable love for Scarlett, who didn’t realize she felt the same in return and clinging on to her own unrequited desire.
She wondered how he could jest so blithely with a rope about his neck and her pitiful circumstances before him. She did not even notice that his hands were jammed in his pockets in hard fists as if he were straining at his own impotence.
Sarcasm was his love language. He mocked the object of his affection while intensely hoping he would have a chance at happiness. It is a complicated tragedy that he pursues someone when he should know it wouldn’t end well. A player in love that was terrified knowing that his devotion can be a chain, weapon, and a weakness better left unexposed. Still, he couldn’t quit her and saw through all her B.S. words or maneuvers while patiently waiting for her to get over Ashley.
“Don’t tell me the wolf is still at the door of Tara.” There was a different tone in his voice…She knew now that he had hurried to her without the slightest appearance of hurry, to lend her the money if she still needed it. And yet he would torment and insult her and deny that such was his intent, should she accuse him. He was quite beyond all comprehension. Did he really care about her, more than he was willing to admit? Or did he have some other motive? Probably the latter, she thought. But who could tell? He did such strange things sometimes.
He was there to support her through the fall of Atlanta and her pregnancy when she needed him while challenging her to develop her views and admiring her lively mind and spirit. I laughed a lot when it came to their bantering resulting in Scarlett’s blazing anger at him when she was bested or fed up. Their chemistry was off the charts! His proposal was not only hilarious; it was at the same time forceful and manly. I wonder what he was thinking and feeling on their wedding day. It cut me deep when he confessed his long suffering at the end as time and loss broke him completely. You sir, are no gentleman. But I’ll throw myself at you in spite of it. Or because of it.
Melanie had the face of a sheltered child who had never known anything but simplicity and kindness, truth and love, and child who had never looked upon harshness or evil and would not recognize them if she saw them. Because she had always been happy, she wanted everyone about her to be happy or, at least, pleased with themselves…Because of these qualities that came sincerely and spontaneously from a generous heart, everyone flocked about her, for who can resist the charm of one who discovers in others admirable qualities undreamed of even by himself?
A mouse who exemplifies all the sweet dullards who are reliable to a fault. She is such a goody goody who refuses to see evil in the world. How incredibly blind she is to Scarlett’s love for Ashley and hatred of her! At times they would support each other but usually they would discuss the same subject while missing the point the other one was making. The subtext of opposite character motivations was comic gold. I love how she is the one who draws out Rhett’s respect. I wish I could be as selfless and always see the best in people. It’s a boring pain to live with a gentle saint but her loyalty and influence is undeniably valuable.
Compatible/ Incompatible Pairings
“Like must marry like or there’ll be no happiness.”
I was amazed by this line amongst many others. Along with the idea of morals/ etiquette tossed aside in the face of hard times and the bewilderment of a shattered society Margaret insightfully comments several times regarding ideal marriages.
“Love isn’t enough to make a successful marriage when two people are as different as we are. You would want all of a man, Scarlett, his body, his heart, his soul, his thoughts. And if you did not have them, you would be miserable.”
I agree that unless people can communicate on the same level and have matching sensibilities there is a less likely chance of it working out.
They were always like two people talking to each other in different languages.
Complete opposites like the fierce Scarlett and the dainty Ashley combined would not equal happiness. They are fascinated by each other and may balance one another out, but in the long run Scarlett would resent Ashley’s sensitive pursuits and way of thinking. She would not be humbly influenced by Ashley; instead she would be dissatisfied with his lack of skill/ motivation and would be frustrated since she would not understand this dreamer who wishes to escape reality.
Whenever she spoke her mind everyone seemed to be shocked. Talking to Rhett was comparable to only one thing, the feeling of ease and comfort afforded by a pair of old slippers after dancing in a pair too tight.
The other extreme is the theme of the book, where two people who are similar must marry each other. Most of the story centers on the pairing of the understated and polite vs. the violent storm of the main characters.
I’d rather not welcome a headache, I skipped through most of the dialogue when it came to the broken words of the help.
“Ellen was the audience before which the blustering drama of Gerald O’Hara had been played. Now the curtain had been rung down forever, the footlights dimmed and the audience suddenly vanished, while the stunned old actor remained on his empty stage, waiting for his cues.”
I loved the additional heartbreak of Scarlett’s mother, Ellen, whom she idealized and the self made man Gerald who married her.
End of an era
What a terrible, terrible thing it was to have to do with a man who wasn’t a gentleman. A gentleman always appeared to believe a lady even when he knew she was lying. That was Southern chivalry. A gentleman always obeyed the rules and said the correct things and made life easier for a lady. But this man seemed not to care for rules and evidently enjoyed talking of things no one ever talked about.
A whole romantic society much like the Georgian times of Jane Austen that can no longer be seen or touched after they ran into such violence.
There was no going back and she was going forward. Throughout the South for fifty years there would be bitter-eyed women who looked backward, to dead times, to dead men, evoking memories that hurt and were futile, bearing poverty with bitter pride because they had those memories. But Scarlett was never to look back.
The Confederates were ignorant and confident in their cause that fell along with the genteel world of the Old South. So many wish they had died in honor in order to avoid the abrupt displacement and hostility of the new regime.
“They’re like fish out of water or cats with wings. They were raised to be certain persons, to do certain things, to occupy certain niches. And those persons and things and niches disappeared forever when General Lee arrived at Appomattox.”
Two choices: get busy living, or get busy dying.
Something had gone out of them, out of their world. Five years ago, a feeling of security had wrapped them all around so gently they were not even aware of it. In its shelter they had flowered. Now it was gone and with it had gone the old thrill, the old sense of something delightful and exciting just around the corner, the old glamor in the way of living.
During the Civil War estates and cities burned. A generation of men lost. Fortunes and positions altered as a whole society ended forever.
“Ah,” said Melanie sadly, “what will the South be like without all our fine boys? What would the South have been if they had lived. We could have used their courage and their energy and their brains. Scarlett, all of us with little boys must raise them to take the places of the men who are gone, to be brave men like them.”
“There will never again be men like them,” said Carreen softly. “No one can take their places.”
Restrictions for women:
- A women should never display an aptitude of numbers much less handle any aspect of a business.
- Do not ever discuss pregnancy even amongst other women. As soon as you are with child you are to be confined with the curtains drawn until it arrives.
- Having a boy is cause for celebration. A girl is an embarrassment who puts into question the husband’s manliness.·
- It is not respectable to drink hard liquor and certainly never tipsy. My, how the times have changed.
- Sell your charm and modesty because you are a sweet doll and nothing more.
- Political matters are off limits.
- Mourning. Dress code: black. Dancing: indecent. Smiling: forbidden.
- If unmarried, a chaperone is needed whenever going out.
The man owned the property, and the woman managed it. The man took the credit for the management, and the woman praised his cleverness. The man roared like a bull when a splinter was in his finger, and the woman muffled the moans of childbirth, lest she disturb him. Men were rough of speech and often drunk. Women ignored the lapses of speech and put the drunkards to bed without bitter words. Men were rude and outspoken, women were always kind, gracious, and forgiving. She had been reared in the tradition of great ladies, which had taught her how to carry her burden and still retain her charm…
Too late to apologize
“And I loved you so, Scarlett. If you had only let me, I could have loved you as gently and as tenderly as ever a man loved a woman. But I couldn’t let you know, for I knew you’d think me weak and try to use my love against me. “
You don’t learn things as keenly without experiencing change and loss. Death arrives and you may find out the cruel bitter way that you took someone for granted. The first time Scarlett felt regret was when Frank died and she realized how horrible she treated him for the sake of money. Her marriage with Rhett was a painful, cold, and ugly one that drove me crazy because of the wasted time and misunderstandings. That is a miserable state to be in. It was more devastating than if one of them had died without declaring their feelings. Ok, that would kill me too.
And apologies, once postponed, become harder and harder to make, and finally impossible.
There’s no way to make up for all the years of scornful abuse. I admire any man who waits and Rhett certainly takes the (poisonous) cake..
Trying to picture a conclusion
I am so torn between acknowledging Rhett no longer loving Scarlett because Bonnie’s death was the end of the relationship vs. having them let each other in and begin again. Maybe they missed each other and it can’t salvaged because it was also swept away after all…if there is a way to work it out this is what I would imagine:
She would initially fight to convince him to return to her but after various rejections she would go take care of Mammy who dies of a heart failure. Maybe after 2 or 3 years of isolation Rhett would come back to the area and hear that Tara is for sale. He would also find out Scarlett is ill and after visiting Belle who is also dying and suggests reconciliation go to meet Scarlett as a courtesy. She would tell him she is letting go of Tara because she already lost everything that mattered. Rhett would find out he doesn’t want to give up Scarlett after all and stay by her side. Scarlett would recover almost fully but with less strength and they would live out the rest of their years in relatively peaceful companionship. The End.