Friday, March 19, 2010

Resident Expert: Gone With the Wind

I recently finished reading Gone With the Wind and thought it deserved a RE post. It is, after all, "America's Most Beloved Epic Novel".

Just a quick heads up: this post is bound to have spoilers so if you haven't read the book/ seen the movie, you might not want to read unless, that is, you like having things spoiled.

I bet you read the last page of Deathly Hallows didn't you?!

*ahem* I'm done with my accusations now. Let's talk about Gone With the Wind

My copy was 1024 pages. I was originally undeterred by the length, but that was before I realized that there are long stretches of time when nothing significant happens. Margaret Mitchell fills in these lapses by writing about the Civil War (which is the backdrop of the story) and those parts could be a little dull. Sure, these sections were important, but I really wanted to know what was happening to Scarlett.

Ah, Scarlett O'Hara. I have so many things to say about you.

Isn't Vivien Leigh gorgeous?

The book starts when Scarlett is 16 years old. She's completely vain and takes everything for granted. She annoyed the crap out of me. From the very beginning, she's in love with Ashley Wilkes, but he's engaged to Melanie Hamilton, a less beautiful but kind-hearted woman.

Scarlett pines after Ashley for the entire book, even though he's married to Melanie from page 130. She takes every chance she has to tell him she loves him, but he is bound to Melanie and is too much of a gentleman to leave her.

The fact that Scarlett continued to tempt Ashley when he couldn't pursue her really irritated me. Sure, he admitted that he loved Scarlett, but when he said he wouldn't ever leave Melanie, she persisted. In real life, I think I could be best friends with Melanie. She's selfless, trustworthy, and forgiving- everything Scarlett isn't (heehee, foil!).

Besides the things about Scarlett that annoyed me, she was an interesting character. When she made a mistake (which was always) I became incredibly frustrated and wanted to walk away from the book. But I didn't. I cared what happened to her. I gave my friends updates on what she was up to. Even though her nature makes her unlikable, Mitchell managed to make me care about her more than anyone else.

Margaret Mitchell was a genius. How did she pull this off? I'm still boggled just thinking about it.

The other character I cared about was Rhett Butler.

By now, you should all know that I'm a sucker for the tall, dark, and handsome type. Rhett is the epitome of that type. He's bold, defiant, merciless in honesty... and completely in love with Scarlett.

The thing is, Scarlett is too stupid to see it. After all he does for her, she still doesn't really understand what love is. She thinks love is being given hundreds of compliments a day.

Oh, Rhett, you're too good for her. I mean, you're not perfect either, but you're way too good for Scarlett! Come live with me, I'll take care of you!

Out of the whole book, the one scene that made my cry (Any book that makes me cry gets my total respect... it's really hard to make me cry while I'm reading. Movies, on the other hand...) was when the reader finally saw how deeply Rhett really did love Scarlett.

Here's a clip from the movie, although it's hardly as powerful (in the book he CRIES). Sorry about the quality, it's the only one I could find:

*sob* He's so broken!

Then, in the end, Scarlett finally realizes that she loves Rhett (which is obvious from the beginning) but it's too late. Rhett has no more love to give.


There's much more to be said about this book, but I fear I've put you to sleep. To sum everything up, I'll say that although this was an exhausting read, I'm in deep awe of Margaret Mitchell.

I'll be gone next week, so I bid you all adieu!


Jonathon Arntson said...

Awesome review. I have never once considered reading GWW, not going to happen, but if it does I'll either blame you or thank you.

Have a great week at home!

Hayley said...

I did not read the las page of Deathly Hallows, thank you very much. But that also means I didn't get to finish reading your post past paragraph one. But now I want to go and read Gone With the Wind so I can read your post. It's always been on my list I just haven't gotten to it yet.

Sarah said...

Haven't seen or read Gone With The Wind. #sarahfail But seriously, what is with never-ending books? I'm reading two for my English Lit class. *sigh*

Lisa and Laura said...

Oh this book is one of my favorite books of all time. I loved every second of it. Now that I think about it that probably makes me a HUGE nerd.

Stephanie Cheryl said...

Just wanted to let you know that I left you a little something over at my blog! :-)

inthewritemind said...

I like to think that after the story ends that Rhett eventually comes to love Scarlett again :) I have this whole scenario in my head :P Yes I realize there's a sequel but that's not how I pictured it.

Although I have to say as much as I like Melanie, she sometimes annoyed me; she was a bit too Mary Sue at times. I mean she had to have a flaw somewhere!

Peter Brown, Instructor said...

Good point that we care about Scarlett, whether we like her or not. Who killed RHETT BUTLER? No one has written it, until now!

sraasch said...

Aw! So tragic...

Stephanie Perkins said...

Oh, man. Now I HAVE to read Gone With the Wind.

This was such a fab review. :)

Mary Campbell said...

I love gone with the wind. One of my favorite books of all time. I even enjoyed the long passages about the civil war. I love the two characters of Melanie and Scarlett. Through the entire book Scarlett believes that she is the one with all the strength, but in reality it's Melanie. Melanie loves Scarlett and everyone else loves Melanie. Melanie is the true leader and without here Scarlett would not have been welcomed anywhere. Scarlett does have some appealing qualities though. When she returns to Tara after everything has been destroyed, it's her strength of will that keeps them all alive. Without her tenacity Melanie and Scarlett's sisters would have died. I never could understand her love for Ashley. Rhett is ten times the man Ashley is, but I do think that deep down Scarlett idealizes Ashley. Rhett is to much like her and I think she doesn't like that picture of herself. Anyway I could go on and on.

Mary Campbell said...

Oh I forgot to say there are some qualities to admire about Ashley - he's honorable and kind hearted. He lives by a code and doesn't shirk from it and he stands by Melanie. When they decide it's too dangerous for Melanie to have anymore children that basically means they can no longer be intimate. That's very hard on a man and even though he is tempted by Scarlett he still holds his ground. Melanie and Ashley are not ruled by their passions the way Scarlett and Rhett are and it is something to be admired.