Gone With the Wind easily and instantly became one of my favourite books upon reading it. I enjoyed the style, the themes, the writing, the characters and the symbolism. The romantic realism depicted in the book makes me classify this as an Objectivist literature.
Katie Scarlett O’Hara– The heroine of the novel, a Southern belle not conforming to the stereotype. She grew up as a spoiled child, conforming to the Southern aristocracy in order to fit in. She secretly enjoyed the unconventional, which were to be a vixen and a flirt. She was madly and secretly in love with Ashley Wilkes, a neighbouring dandy, but Ashley was engaged to Melanie Hamilton, which led Scarlett into a scheme of marrying Melanie’s brother Charles Hamilton. When the war broke out, Charles enlisted and died as Scarlett carried his child Wade Hamilton. The war soon worsen as Scarlett did her best to survive, mostly with the help of Captain Rhett Butler. Ravaged by the war, Scarlett returned from Atlanta to Tara, where the Union Soldiers have destroyed everything. From this moment, her character changed from a spoiled child oblivious to the reality into a hardened woman who would do anything to protect herself and her family. She ate rotten food, picked cottons, shot and killed a Yankee soldier and stood up against the Sherman army as well as the carpetbaggers to protect Tara. Eventually she schemed and broke a betroth of Frank Kennedy and her own sister in order to secure money to save Tara. Her desire to secure material wealth made her go to extreme lengths, including getting into lumber business, running the business as a pregnant woman, befriending the hated Yankees, using convict labour and almost getting herself killed while on business runs. This resulted in the eventual death of Frank who lynched the criminals. She then married Rhett and had his children but never loved him because he promised her wealth. It was until she finally realised that her infatuation for Ashley was simply her false ideal, that she came to understand she has been in love with Rhett for quite some time, but Rhett was no longer in love with her.
Scarlett was prone to anger, manipulative, smart and rebellious. She was truly a selfish woman in the Objectivist sense. She lived and focused on the future while other Dixies struggled in the new world, she saw the world as it is and tried to make the most out of it. She was the new woman, a true feminist. Everyone depended on her and she was carrying the load of 3 men on her shoulder. She symbolized survival and the will to live one’s own life. She struggled to balance between his Irish temper and productivity from her father’s side and the tradition and delicacy from her mother’s side. In the end, she grew to be a woman with nothing to fear but her own happiness.
Captain Rhett Butler– A blockader, speculator and Scarlett’s love interest. Grew up in a well off family from Charleston, but a renegade at heart. He was disowned and penniless, he made the fortune himself. Despite being shunned by the Southern society for his behaviours, he was charming and generous to those he loved. Throughout the novel, Rhett was as unpredictable as Scarlett, they were a match made in heaven, but Scarlett was in love with Ashley and Rhett knew it. It did not stop Rhett from pursuing Scarlett and finally getting her at the end. Rhett was the only person Scarlett could confide to and he was always encouraging Scarlett to rebel against the customs. Rhett is like the Aristotle to Scarlett, who showed her that life could be really fun and exciting, it isn’t always about suffering. His optimism and character made him the hero of the novel, the man who could be and is.
Major George Ashley Wilkes- A man of honour, incapable of thinking for himself. Ashley was a man of the old days, where he never had to work but to be romantic and follow the tradition. Scarlett was in love with this ideal despite all the evidence pointing out that Ashley will forever be living on others’ charity. All the work Scarlett has done for Ashley only made him more depressed and older. As Rhett said, Ashley shouldn’t have survived in the new world. Ashley represented the man who could never be and knows it.
Melanie Wilkes- Scarlett’s sister-in-law, meek and kind. Like Ashley, she was incapable of surviving in the new world, but she became the pillar of the community with her optimism and her serenity. Fiercely protective of Scarlett because she could not see through Scarlett’s selfish ways, she was incapable of thinking but she was full of heart. Despite her kind nature, she also has a violent side that few would know.
Will Benteen- A crippled Confederate solider rescued by the O’Hara family. Kind, patient, perceptive and hard working. He was Scarlett’s confidant during their hardship at Tara, he eventually married Scarlett’s sister Suellen to protect Tara, despite being in love with her other sister Careen. Born as a cracker, Will represented that blood means nothing in the new world, but the mind is what really counts.
Mammy, Pork & Dilcey- The former slaves who remained with the O’Hara family after the war, Mammy was Scarlett’s wet-nurse, wise and intuitive to everyone’s struggles. Pork was the valet of the family, after the war he did everything Scarlett told him to do, even took a bullet for the family. Dilcey is Pork’s wife, Scarlett was the one who pushed her father to purchase Dilcey and her daughter Prissy, Dilcey remained eternally grateful and is a valuable member of the family. The former slaves represented the Southern family that the North disdained, as evident by the attitude of Yankee women when Scarlett defended her former slaves.
Belle Watling- A prostitute who is loyal to the South despite being despised by everyone. She donated to the cause when she had nothing and saved many Ku Klux Klan members later on. She showed that one can still have kindness and dignity while being a low born.
Mitchell offered accurate historical accounts as researched by Dr. Thomas Sowell and Dr. Walter E. Williams. It offered new understanding of the Old South supressed by censorship and political correctness these days. The only thing I would object is the use of the vulgar speech that was almost incomprehensible to read. Regardless, we can a learn a little something from Scarlett and Rhett. Slavery is indefensible but, we can learn about the struggles people black and white had to go through during Reconstruction.