Gone with the wind is the story set in the times of the American civil war of the 1860's and of the lives of the people intertwined in the war. But if you look at the novel a little more deeply it is the story of a woman who has become a household name for willfulness, power and sensuality. Scarlett O'Hara grew up as the daughter of a Georgian plantation owner and was raised to become a lady among the landed gentry in Georgia. Sadly she could not remain that way for long. The war changed fortunes of the rich and the poor alike and she was left to fend for herself ruthlessly. Therein do we find her true nature exposed. She goes against propriety and aggressively fights for what she wants. In the end, this obsession with herself leads her to moments of intense revelation but as she herself repeatedly mentions, "She (I) would (will) think about it tomorrow".
The times in which the novel was set forms the narrative thread and it is engaging to go through that period of unrest in America through the same. The shift from luxurious lifestyles before the war and abject poverty as soon as the war breaks out is striking and there is no one who goes unaffected by the effects of war. The novel gives us a true reflection of the times that it was set in.
The characters are well rounded; Scarlett being the perfectly etched out one. There is Ashley Wilkes; Scarlett's eternal romantic hero who loses his heart to his cousin Melanie leaving Scarlett shattered. She finally finds her match in Rhett Butler, the 'man with a scandalous reputation' who she gets married to but is not in love with. Among the others, the ones worth mentioning are Gerald O Hara, Scarlett's father, an Irish man who came to Georgia with dreams of becoming one among the gentry; Mammy, the Afro American lady who is nanny and confidante and a foster mother to Scarlett and Melanie, cousin of Ashley Wilkes and the perfect lady. The style is mostly smooth and the tone, engaging.
Scarlett is an embodiment of raw human nature. She can never be the lady she desperately strives to be but that does not make her any less endearing. All the other characters in the novel almost lose their shimmer in front of her, except for Rhett Butler. For me, the portrayal of Scarlett O Hara is the biggest plus in the novel. Talk about the Civil War, we do have better depictions of the same among other contemporary writers.
Book Reviewed By Asha Francis
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