Gone With the Wind - The Evolution of the Southern Woman
Depending on your point of view, the movie Gone with the Wind has many representations. Some will regard it as a romantic story between Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler. Others may view it as a glimpse into the rise, fall and rise (again) of southern aristocrats before, during and after the Civil War. Both points of view are valid. The Civil War and its consequences serve as the background of this love affair. Along with the war (and its aftermath) the story of Rhett and Scarlett can genuinely be called a great but stormy romantic adventure. It can also be claimed that alongside this great love story, Gone With The Wind has a more basic storyline. Above all else, this movie is about survival and survivors. The focus of this survival story is southern women, primarily Scarlett O’Hara. Gone With the Wind is a story that reflects the evolving role of the southern woman from the Antebellum (pre Civil War), Civil War and Reconstruction (post Civil War) eras.
Prior to the start of the Civil War, the role of aristocratic women in the south was one of luxury, duty and relaxation. In its beginning, Gone With The Wind is primarily about the good life for Scarlett and her fellow belles. As Scarlett sits on her porch, she is the center of attention for the Carlton twins. Life is about barbeques, dancing, flirting and matchmaking. Chivalry is the order of the day and women expected their men to behave chivalrous. The biggest problem they seem to have is deciding what dress to wear, how to eat properly in front of men and figuring out the best method to catch a husband. Mammy remarks to Scarlett that “you should eat before the barbeque so that you can be more lady like and eat like a bird in front of the eligible gentlemen at Twelve Oaks.” She also reminds Scarlett that she should “invite her gentlemen friends to stay for dinner” because it is the proper way for southerners to treat...
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