I'm a fan of melodrama. (Can I say that?) Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind is so subversive. It is one of my favourite books. The movie may be better than the book.
When I was a girl, Scarlett O’Hara was a big influence on me. (This is probably unfortunate.) I loved Scarlett's selfishness, and how she tries to control her sexual and economic fate. (Just as women struggle to do today.)
The story about Scarlett’s crush on the unavailable Ashley is popular for the same reasons why He’s Just Not That Into You was a bestseller. (In my formative years, a book like He's Just Not That Into You would have been helpful.)
And when I was older, I realized how dreamy Rhett is. (In a lusting for an alpha male way.) I empathized with Scarlett, especially when Rhett says one of the most memorable lines in literature (“Frankly, my dear...”).
But of course Scarlett can’t be allowed to get away with threatening gender roles and the status quo. Just like in Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, Scarlett the woman must be put in her "place". This is another reason why Gone with the Wind remains so popular.
I still admire Scarlett’s tenacity. For years, I lived by her mantra.
I'll think of it tomorrow, at Tara. I can stand it then. Tomorrow, I'll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day.
Gone with the Wind was published in 1936. It is more about the prevailing attitudes of the 1930s than those of the Civil War. We still are grappling with the issues that are raised in this book. Can women take control of their sexual identities? Can women be wives and mothers, and also have a career?
I'm not a fan of Sarah Palin, and I might be stretching with this comparison. But just think about this. Palin is like a present-day Scarlett O'Hara. She is a beautiful, selfish, tenacious woman. She had lots of suitors (the Republican nomination). Now she has gone to Fox (Atlanta), to seek her fortune, and some day, probably after a traumatic event, she will need to return to Alaska (Tara).
Some people complain that the portrayal of African Americans, especially in the film, is racist, but the story needs to be considered within the context of its time. Just like Shakespeare, or any great literature.
Here are some stunning photos from the film: