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Old 02-24-2010, 09:59 AM   #16
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What I am saying is that if the slavery system was as wonderful and charming as Mrs. Mitchell and old Virginia textbooks paint it, it’s a wonder why no whites outside of minstrel shows tried passing for black.
She does tackle what she sees as Northern misconceptions head-on; e.g.
"Accepting Uncle Tom's Cabin as revelation second only to the Bible, the Yankee women all wanted to know about the bloodhounds which every Southerner kept to track down runaway slaves. And they never believed her when she told them she had only seen one bloodhound in all her life and it was a small mild dog and not a huge ferocious mastiff. They wanted to know about the dreadful branding irons which planters used to mark the faces of their slaves and the cat-o'-nine-tails with which they beat them to death, and they evidenced what Scarlett felt was a very nasty and ill-bred interest in slave concubinage. Especially did she resent this in view of the enormous increase in mulatto babies in Atlanta since the Yankee soldiers had settled in the town.
Any other Atlanta woman would have expired in rage at having to listen to such bigoted ignorance but Scarlett managed to control herself."


In the UK, we were educated about the appalling treatment African slaves were forced to endure during capture, transportation and when they were put to work.
Mitchell presents aspects of that history that we weren't told about - how accurate it is though, I don't know. Certainly the field hands are not depicted as being well-treated.
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Old 02-24-2010, 10:15 AM   #17
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She does tackle what she sees as Northern misconceptions head-on; e.g.
"Accepting Uncle Tom's Cabin as revelation second only to the Bible, the Yankee women all wanted to know about the bloodhounds which every Southerner kept to track down runaway slaves. And they never believed her when she told them she had only seen one bloodhound in all her life and it was a small mild dog and not a huge ferocious mastiff. They wanted to know about the dreadful branding irons which planters used to mark the faces of their slaves and the cat-o'-nine-tails with which they beat them to death, and they evidenced what Scarlett felt was a very nasty and ill-bred interest in slave concubinage. Especially did she resent this in view of the enormous increase in mulatto babies in Atlanta since the Yankee soldiers had settled in the town.
Any other Atlanta woman would have expired in rage at having to listen to such bigoted ignorance but Scarlett managed to control herself."


In the UK, we were educated about the appalling treatment African slaves were forced to endure during capture, transportation and when they were put to work.
Mitchell presents aspects of that history that we weren't told about - how accurate it is though, I don't know. Certainly the field hands are not depicted as being well-treated.
Slavery is such an emotion-laden topic that I don't know if we'll ever get an unbiased picture of what life was like under the American system. Furthermore, if we are ever presented with such a picture, how would we recognize it?

The horrors spoken of in Uncle Tom's cabin were all real. There really were people who used whips, chains, and dogs on slaves. The only question is how widespread these horrors were. Even in Harriet Beecher Stowe's book many slaveholders were depicted as kind and caring.

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Old 02-24-2010, 10:19 AM   #18
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To her credit, the characters created by Margaret Mitchell, black and white, are for the most part fully drawn and three-dimensional. I don’t see intentional malice in her characterizations, and there are instances in the book where the slaves are shown to have better sense than their owners, but still I see a lot of bias.
Mitchell had a lot of the preconceptions of many of the most well-intentioned whites in the south. To her credit, with the money from Gone With The Wind, she set up a foundation to fund scholarships to help blacks become doctors which is still in existence to this day.
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Old 02-24-2010, 10:27 AM   #19
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Mitchell had a lot of the preconceptions of many of the most well-intentioned whites in the south. To her credit, with the money from Gone With The Wind, she set up a foundation to fund scholarships to help blacks become doctors which is still in existence to this day.
I didn't know that, and I'm glad you pointed it out.

As I said, I'm not trying to judge her, but I am trying to understand her.
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Old 02-24-2010, 10:42 AM   #20
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Well, I'm from Atlanta so I know these things.

Just before I moved away they opened her old home as a museum.
http://www.margaretmitchellhouse.com/
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Old 02-24-2010, 02:00 PM   #21
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It's been at least 40 years since I read GWTW, but I still remember quite a lot of it. The novel is a product of its time and place, and, yes, 74 years down the road, some of it is pretty cringe-worthy. But the basic plot still serves as a prototype for a certain type of romance novel, where the haughty, spoiled, bitchy heroine has a love/hate relationship with the roguish, swashbuckling hero through trying historical times. I think this sub-genre kind of peaked in the 1970s with authors like Rosemary Rodgers and Kathleen Woodwiss, but I don't read romance anymore and I could be dead wrong.

Do you suppose that Margaret Mitchell drew her inspiration from Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew?
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Old 02-24-2010, 02:53 PM   #22
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Do you suppose that Margaret Mitchell drew her inspiration from Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew?
I didn't think Scarlett shrewish; she put me more in mind of Becky Sharp from 'Vanity Fair' (maybe also a dash of Moll Flanders).
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Old 02-25-2010, 07:45 AM   #23
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I read this a couple of times, but it's been years. About all I remember is wanting to yank Scarlett baldheaded for being such a brat.
Well she made you think, and evoked a response. I thought that she came over very well, and though I disliked her intensly too, the book worked from that point of view. All in all an excellent read.
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Old 02-25-2010, 10:48 AM   #24
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All in all an excellent read.
I agree - one of the best books I have ever read!!

Lilac_jive for nominating it; I'd never have read it if it hadn't been for the MRBC!
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Old 02-25-2010, 12:07 PM   #25
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Well she made you think, and evoked a response. I thought that she came over very well, and though I disliked her intensly too, the book worked from that point of view. All in all an excellent read.
Oh, definitely! Yeah, there's no way I'd read a book that large (before ebooks) a couple of times if I hadn't enjoyed it. The book is now and was then a good read. I've always thought Mitchell did a good job with her characters since I remember that Scarlett annoyed me that intensely 15 years after I read the book!
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Old 02-25-2010, 04:14 PM   #26
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I haven't read much romantic fiction; but a common theme seems to be the catharsis of the heroine by cruelty and rape.

It's an aspect of 'Wuthering Heights' that seems to appeal to a lot of its fans - the brutality of Heathcliffe.

We have another example in 'Gone with the Wind' when Rhett forces himself on Scarlett, Ch 54:

"He hurt her and she cried out, muffled, frightened. Up the stairs he went in the utter darkness, up, up, and she was wild with fear. He was a mad stranger and this was a black darkness she did not know, darker than death. He was like death, carrying her away in arms that hurt. She screamed, stifled against him and he stopped suddenly on the landing and, turning her swiftly in his arms, bent over and kissed her with a savagery and a completeness that wiped out everything from her mind but the dark into which she was sinking and the lips on hers."

and then Scarlett the following morning:

"The man who had carried her up the dark stairs was a stranger of whose existence she had not dreamed. And now, though she tried to make herself hate him, tried to be indignant, she could not. He had humbled her, hurt her, used her brutally through a wild mad night and she had gloried in it. Oh, she should be ashamed, should shrink from the very memory of the hot swirling darkness! A lady, a real lady, could never hold up her head after such a night. But, stronger than shame, was the memory of rapture, of the ecstasy of surrender."

I'm curious to know how scenes like this speak to fans of romantic fiction?
What is their view of Rhett?
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Old 02-25-2010, 09:04 PM   #27
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105 pages in and I give up. I just can't get past the characters - although colourful described I dislike them. And I just can't be bothered reading this book again when I dislike the characters so much.

I will however follow the discussion as I am interested as to why everyone thinks this book is so great.

Soz, total failure here
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Old 02-25-2010, 10:27 PM   #28
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105 pages in and I give up. I just can't get past the characters - although colourful described I dislike them. And I just can't be bothered reading this book again when I dislike the characters so much.

I will however follow the discussion as I am interested as to why everyone thinks this book is so great.

Soz, total failure here
I'm on about page 40!

I do think I want to read it, but certainly not going to git 'er dun this go round.
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Old 02-26-2010, 11:42 AM   #29
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I'm curious to know how scenes like this speak to fans of romantic fiction?
What is their view of Rhett?
I haven't quite gotten to this part yet (200 pages to go...) but your analysis is interesting. It reminds me of something a friend once told me that she learned in a film class about Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds that made me look at it a different way. If you look at it from a feminist perspective (and I am now coming to realize that GWTW is one of the great early feminist novels so this fits) the clear theme is that a strong, independent woman is anathemic to the world - she must be violently forced into submission and, moreover, convinced that submission is her proper place, before she can live harmoniously within the world again.
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Old 02-26-2010, 11:49 AM   #30
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105 pages in and I give up. I just can't get past the characters - although colourful described I dislike them. And I just can't be bothered reading this book again when I dislike the characters so much.

I will however follow the discussion as I am interested as to why everyone thinks this book is so great.

Soz, total failure here
I think characterization is actually one of the great successes of this book. Obviously a bunch of the characters are thinly defined but the main characters - Scarlett, Rhett, Ashley, Melanie are complex in the extreme if you follow their development throughout the book. Their actions and statements are layered with meaning and different potential motives behind them. No one is all good or all bad (and yes that includes the supposedly sainted Melanie Wilkes). Who uses who? What are the consequences, intended and accidental, what are the intentions stated and secret, the book is one big psychological knot begging to be unravelled.

I also think that the book is worth reading for its portrayal of the south its heydey and fall, the war and its strategems, the effects of the war on the unprepared, the statements it makes about politics, feminism, classicism and racism and the origins of the ku klux klan even if you never end up being that interested in the characters.

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