Discuss two related characterizations that dominate Scarlett's existence in Gone with the Wind.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that this depends on which part of the novel upon which one focuses.  In the early phase of the novel, there is a persistent thought about self- satisfaction.  Scarlett is concerned only with her sense of self before the war breaks out and even during it.  Scarlett is shown to be unable to see past herself and her own well being, in terms of the fulfillment of her own desires.  Her coveting of Ashley Wilkes as well as the demand to live life on her own terms are both a part of this. As the war progresses and situations become challenging, Scarlett becomes more self- interested.  This Scarlett is not as concerned with self- satisfaction as much as she is concerned with self- preservation.  The management of Tara and the development of her own economic well- being would be a part of this.  The transformation from a Southern Belle to a financial force is a critical part of her characterization, and it reflects both types of self- interest.  While there is still a pining for the noble Mr. Wilkes, Scarlett is shown to be more of a force of self- preservation.

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