A closer look at the cultural attitudes in Gone with the Wind

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Margaret Mitchell’s masterpiece “Gone with the Wind” shows women constrained by a society that gives them no control, except over the size of their waists.

Over at Medium, I published an essay about one of my favorite novels, “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell.

The epic backdrop of the Civil War and Reconstruction places “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell at a pivotal period in U.S. history. The novel presents the cultural view of Southerners, particularly affluent Southerners, who wished to cast a rosy light upon race relations and portray the status quo as a social system accepted by all parties, except of course meddlesome Yankees.

Pondering the novel from this view cleared up some of my discomfort with how the novel handled racial issues. As historical fiction, it reveals the world through the eyes of the heroine, Scarlett O’Hara, and the plight of slaves and racism weren’t priorities for the her. She cared about being rich, and her selfish determination made her a literary legend.

The Belle of the Ball

Scarlett fascinates readers because she’s the ultimate anti-heroine. She’s selfish and fake. She’s not a good mother. She goes after her goals with relentless self-centered focus and eventually drives away the one man who genuinely liked her for who she was.

She’s unforgettable, and her struggles in a hostile world create an astonishing narrative that has been popular for decades on an epic scale.

Published in 1936, the novel won the Pulitzer Prize in 1937, and a Publishers Weekly article in 2011 on its 75th anniversary documented its immense sales volume. The original 1936 release sold 176,000 copies. Two million copies had been sold by 1938. Simon & Schuster that now owns the original publisher reports that it sells almost 75,000 copies every year. Mass market editions between 1993 and 2007 sold 650,000 copies.

Read the complete essay at Medium.

Scarlett O’Hara, Racism, and a Damn Good Read

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