I was obsessed with GWTW when I was about 11 years old... it was one of the first "grown-up" books I read and I still know passages by heart. Years later when I saw the movie, I had to adjust my expectations, I had the whole book in my head and hadn't seen even a photo of Vivien Leigh or Clark Gable. My obsession expanded to include the movie and I still have a number of books about Selznick, and the movie, and every book ever written about Vivien Leigh!
When I got older, I understood that a world where people are segregated by class and ethnicity can't be the paradise Mitchell described. I understood that her view is biased and that I don't agree with her point of view. Actually I find that liking characters who represents values I don't agree with has helped me sharpen my values.
I think the sad thing about Scarlett is her unfulfilled longing to be loved by her mother. This empty shell of a mother who hides her total lack of interest in life (after losing the love of her life and then three baby sons) behind a facade of religion and saintliness and who never shows Scarlett her love. I was not surprised to read in a biography of Margaret MItchell that Scarlett is a self portrait, and that she always felt her mother didn't love her.
Scarlett missed the opportunity to build a real friendship with Melanie, and also didn't manage to develop her bonds to her sisters - Carreen is a sort of Melanie character and was always my favorite character, along with Aunt Pittypat, Mrs Merriweather and Mammy. Scarlett could have surrounded herself with friends instead of seeking male attention - at a time when men and women were thought to live on different planets.
Ashley never took her seriously and Rhett had his own agenda. Ironically, Charles Hamilton and Frank Kennedy gave her selfless love - that she rejected, didn't even notice. I found that sad already when I was a girl. Really, we all make such mistakes, we hanker after people who are not good for us and send the nice guys to the desert. Such a mistake.
I totally agree that Rhett Butler treated Scarlett at least as shabbily as she treated him - and he was a grown man and should have known better. The scene where she falls down the stairs is horribly cruel.
Mitchell wrote fascinating characters and was an unsurpassed genius when she described clothes. I think that I can still draw every dress Scarlett considered for the barbecue at Twelve Oaks, they're described so splendidly, like living beings. Much more alive than poor Wade and Ella Lorena.
Her treatment of the Belle Watling character is disappointing, a mere cliche. She could have done so much more with Belle!
I loved the many characters in the country, Grandma Fontaine, Cathleen Calvert, and also in Atlanta - the McLure sisters? is that name correct? Like in a Rubens painting, there is so much vitality. The whole books is like the Tarleton coach, bursting with dresses, curls and great dialogue. She really gave us a whole world - faulty, complex, contradictory, changing all the time. You get a feeling for the world as Mitchell, as nostalgic memory view it.
Atlanta is a character in its own right, and a great character! I'd have loved to meet Rhett's mother and sister btw.
At the same time, the novel is woven tightly. Already on page 2, we hear the secret that will change Scarlett's life - the revelation that sets everything else into motion, until the end.
Compared to this great combination of faithful, lively characters and great narrative structure, a weak novel like Scarlett by Ripley can only disappoint. ( Was afraid to read Rhett's People but if you Dishers like it, I might try it). In Scarlett, everybody just moves from A to B via C, without inner reasons for doing so. Ripley's characters never came to life for me. Stock characters from romantic novels.
Maeve Binchy should have written the Irish part. She would have warmed up Scarlett believably :-)
Wow, I wrote much more than I planned to! Thank you for starting the topic.
Careen, Thank you for the Thank you of starting the topic. Thank you for your magnificent post!