05 September 2008

Gone With The Wind-A Review of Sorts

For all of Scarlett's faults, her weaknesses, her evil, conniving, self-centered, hateful, conceited, manipulative, abusive, twisted self, I feel bad for her. Really. I feel bad because it took her SO long to see what I saw: that Ashley was a useless twit, lost in the past, and no more suitable for her than a rubber ducky is to a swan.

Now, Rhett...
Rhett is the type of man every man wants to be, or SHOULD want to be. I knew from the beginning that he wanted Scarlett, that he loved her. But I didn't guess what would happen in the end, until the end. Until the worst happened. When Bonnie died.

I'm not sure that any marriage ever survives the death of a child. Without straying too far from my discussion, I don't think, even if Rhett's love for Scarlett was reciprocated, that the relationship would have survived Bonnie's tragic demise.

Scarlett was a fool of the worst kind, in wasting her life, essentially, on a man who was in love with another woman and didn't even realize it. I guess that was the only thing he and Scarlett had in common.

Even from the beginning of the book, I disliked Scarlett but respected her, at the same time. I admired her, for her strength of character, her determination to survive. At the same time, I liked Melanie but disliked her. She was weak. Then again, she showed true strength and backbone in the end, when she defends Scarlett. But there, again, her strength came from her naiveity. Perhaps her goodness is her saving grace. Her death totally shocked me. (As if the killing off of the child wasn't bad enough, with the heart-rending vision of a grief-stricken father refusing to bury his girl child because in life she was afraid of the dark!)

I never really developed an attachment to the girl child, Bonnie, or any of the other children, for that matter, but maybe the author never intended it. She certainly didn't really develop her character beyond stating she was spoiled rotten yet sweet so everyone loved her. I think the part that is most heartbreaking is Rhett's grief. His absolute devotion to the child sets him up for destruction. I think Scarlett's treatment of her children is reprehensible and for that I hate her.

Enough about the characters in particular. Before I read Gone With The Wind, I had never really considered anything about the Civil War, other than it was about the South wanting to have slaves and the North fighting for the Negroes' (no offense meant with that term, please no one take any!) rights and freedom. Freedom from terrible treatment from their plantation "owners", freedom from slavery, etc. I never considered the other side of the story, the one that Margaret Meade portrays. The possibility that some of the slaves WANTED to be where they were. Now, I suppose it could be all a crock of propagandic shite, a well-written story done for amusement, but then again, maybe it isn't. Maybe it DOES tell the tale of a time where people had their place in society, and the well-treated slaves took comfort in their positions. That some of them loved their owners, and their owners loved them. There was a fierce loyalty portrayed on behalf of both whites and blacks, for a good slave was "family". At the same time, the attitude that Scarlett showed in regard to slaves being akin to simple children who needed guidance and direction, now, that was terrible. Did they really believe that? Is that how they justified themselves?

In that same society the young girls pretended to be stupid and shy and innocent and sweet, all the while flirting and conniving and manipulative. It astonishes me to think that the girls would be that way, willingly being that way, accepting the demands of society. Society, propriety, demanded they act a certain way until they were married, and then they could be themselves (but only behind closed doors, I'm sure). And worse, that the men KNEW it! Oh, they pretended not to, but really, could they be that stupid? Everything was contrived! All for the sake of show. Ridiculous.

My discussion on this topic is done, but for this: Rhett was a good man, and he deserved better than Scarlett.

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