Gone with the Wind, perhaps the most famous American novel of the twentieth century, tells the story of Scarlett O’Hara, a Southern woman trying to maintain her identity as her world is torn apart by the United States Civil War. Upon publication, the novel attained instant popularity, and the premiere of the film version in 1939 met with equal enthusiasm.
The story begins when Scarlett, at age sixteen, experiences the first real disappointment of her pampered life. Ashley Wilkes, the man she loves, marries Melanie Hamilton, a soft-spoken and gentle woman whom Scarlett despises. Scarlett irrationally marries Melanie’s brother, but he dies a few months later, leaving Scarlett to discover that widowhood is the most restrictive of all female roles in her Southern society. The upheaval caused by the war, however, gives Scarlett some opportunities for independence. She eventually marries Frank Kennedy and manages a successful lumber business, but is widowed once again. Scarlett then marries an unprecedented third time, to the dashing but socially unrespectable Rhett Butler. Unwilling to admit her sexual attraction for Rhett, Scarlett convinces herself she is marrying him for his money. She continues to pursue Ashley, until she finally realizes, perhaps too late, that she loves Rhett.
Gone with the Wind is a long, sweeping tale and as such encompasses a variety of issues. The views on slavery held by most Southerners at the time...
(The entire section is 427 words.)