(Review) Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Genre: Fiction, Southern Literature, Civil War.
Rating; 4 stars for very good.
This book is counted for the following book challenges.
I'm pleased that I can now state I've read Gone With The Wind. I know a few people who've shared they've read Gone With The Wind multiple times. They fell madly in love with the story and continue to read and reread it. But I don't think I'll read the book again. I'm glad I read it, but don't care to read it again. Actually...and I know this is going to be shocking, but I love the movie better. The books last 300 plus pages were annoying. I just wanted to get finished!
Gone With the Wind is known to most people in the western world as a film made in the late 1930s. The principal film stars were Vivian Leigh, Clark Gable, Hattie McDaniel, Olivia de Havilland, and Leslie Howard.
The movie and book differ widely. The main elements are the same. There are several key patterns and characters in the book who are not in the film, or in the case of one individual-her character is magnified in the film.
I hate to give to much of the differences away in the review.
However, Gone With The Wind is the story of Scarlett O'Hara and her family, who are plantation owners in rural north Georgia. The time period begins in the days before the Civil War, and continues through the Reconstruction Period.
My first thought is Scarlett is an unlikable character, and she is unliked by many of the characters in the book. She is a force to be reckoned with. She is beautiful, but also: emotional, high-strung, vain, arrogant, prideful, spoiled, insensitive, selfish, hostile, volatile, superficial, unkind, and several other words I can think of. The characters in the book either love her or they hate her. She is a character people respond to strongly. She reminds me of a bright light that bugs swarm around. They cannot help but be attracted to her zest and strengths, whether these strengths are positive or negative. I feel this is why Scarlett's character works in the book. She is a larger than life character that all the other characters move around. She certainly makes for entertainment.
I love the character Melanie Hamilton Wilkes. Her character is opposite in nature to Scarlett. Scarlett's mother is also the opposite of Scarlett. But Melanie is the epitome of grace, mercy, femininity, and motherhood. When Scarlett and Melanie are in the same scene together, their personalities are highlighted.
One of the surprises about the Gone With The Wind book is Rhett Butler's character. In the book, he is in less scenes than I remember him being in the film. He is still a primary character, and his famous quotes from the film are in the book, but a great part of the book he is absent.
The vulgar words used to describe African American slaves disturbed me. However, it is important to understand these words, (and the thought behind them as well as the attitude) were used through to the 20th century in describing this race. It does not make it okay, but it was how generations of people spoke. Not necessarily in the south were these words used, but slang terms for all races are a bad habit, degrading, insensitive, shocking, belittling, disrespectful, and haughty. Gone With The Wind is a key reminder of where we were, and where we don't ever want to be again. Let's move forward with dignity and wisdom.
The Civil War is mainly depicted through the eyes of Scarlett. Secondly, through the other characters. For example: Ashley Wilkes's demeanor and body language exhibit the trials and sufferings of the war. He is an example of what the white men in his generation had lived through; and thus carried the memories of what life had been like before the war and the change afterwards.
Rhett Butler's ideas about the war and afterwards during the Reconstruction, puts a different spin than the other characters who have a defeated attitude.
Gone With The Wind has other characters who are not people, they are the South (it's geography, culture, and society), and the plantation Tara. If there is a great love story in Gone With The Wind, it is the love Scarlett has for Tara. It is the only consistent substance she truly loves, and is willing to do anything no matter the cost.