Original 1939 film poster of Gone with the Wind

Chronologiocal Analysis

  • The civilization in the South was no dream world as suggested in the beginning, except in their ignorance, as the southerners had slaves. It is the last vestige of “romantic” times of Master and Slave. Romantic if you were the master.
  • Scarlett says there will be no war. The small town ignorant in the US and elsewhere before WWII said there would be no war. It is pure ignorance of the uninformed, before communications can connect them more readily to the outside world. The same problems exist today, yet a little different. The small towner is now informed via media, but he is still ensconced in what the community believes in, the unwisdom of the herd. That was a problem in Scarlett’s time as it is today.
  • It doesn’t matter who you marry “as long as he thinks like you,” is said by one person. It is an interesting remark with many connotations.
  • All that matters is the land, says her father, which will be prophetic of Scarlett’s situation in the end. It may not be a truth of life, but that is what happens in this situation, especially in light of a coming war. It is also a statement of a physical oriented society and one individual.
  • Mammy is like a Greek chorus, constantly chattering and commenting on the foolishness around her.
  • Scarlett tries to flatter all of the young men in order to make Ashley jealous. At the end, Rhett appears. It is a response to her negativity -- i.e. as a force that can try to tame her of that wanting quality. This dynamic of Rhett suddenly appearing after such foolishness with other men she is trying to manipulate occurs several more times. (Even life response tends to repeat.)
  • Rhett is rational as he listens to the irrationality of the local aristocracy that the South will easily win. He has travelled far and wide and has seen various cultures; has been exposed to a diversity of thinking. He himself is also rational within reason.
  • Rhett tells them that the North has a vast technological advantage. It is completely prophetic for that will determine the outcome of the war. The southern mind of the times, rooted in the country, is ignorant to outside forces. (It happened repeatedly before WWI, WWII, and Vietnam, to name several instances.)
  • These are the trailing edge forces of American society that do her harm and the world even today.
  • Scarlett lives under a similar illusion in believing that Ashley loves her. She is an echo of the illusion of the Southerners about the war. It is a parallel story in fact, and shows the intuitive brilliance of the author.
  • Once again, when Scarlett acts negatively towards Ashley by insisting he loves her, Rhett appears on the scene! Her irascible behavior and falsehood needs taming. Rhett serves that purpose. (He in turn will get the benefit of taming something wild which he perceives as love for her, but which isn’t quite.)
  • Scarlett is irascible, dishonest, deceiving, manipulating, vindictive, scheming, selfish, and insensitive. (She will in the long run turn out to be a positive force of trying to salvage her land, though it occurs through her negative personality.)
  • Charles, her new husband, lives in the illusion that Scarlet cares for him, is crying for him as they are married, when she is in fact crying that she cannot have Ashley. His is just another illusion in the story --a great theme whether popularly perceived about the film/book by the public or not.
  • This is a story of illusions – small and great.
  • The South has many victories in the war early on because of their great enthusiasm for the war. They feel they are protecting their territory, their simple way of life is under threat, and they will intensely defend it, ignoring morality of the slaves. The North on the other hand is trying to be idealistic in preventing slavery, as well as desiring to reign in breakaway territories of the South. Negative forces often get out to a big head stat. The physical moves immediately at its own level, ignoring truths of the vital and especially the mental planes, which later assert.
  • Rhett completely understands Scarlett. He sees her relatively close in, and smiles. Truth smiles at ignorance when it mindlessly believes in itself.
  • Scarlett’s “positive” quality is that she does not care about social convention. She is her own person within her own selfishness. Rhett too is his own person, but at a higher level. These expressions of individuality is one reason for the great appeal and vast popularity of the story. It shows two sides of it, and an attempt to reconcile it, which never happens in light of the shadow of the war on the characters.
  • Rhett says about the South’s role in the war that it is “the curse of living in the past.” This is one of the central themes of the story that the author is trying to convey.
  • They are the trailing edge whose physical consciousness is being beaten out of them.
  • When the nation was formed it was done out of idealism and the emerging power of the individual to find his way and fulfillment in the New World. However, in the South they attempted to recreate the old aristocracy of Europe through the wealthy landowners. It is a scourge of anachronism that has stained that land till this day.
  • It happens to Scarlett too to a degree as she is reduced to digging into the land, and giving up her psychological shenanigans. As a result, she, in the end in her own way, becomes heroic.
  • Many die in the war, but Ashley returns intact.
  • Ashley perceives it is the end of the war, and the end of their way of life. In fact, the North has come to civilize them. (The South in this way “needs” the war and defeat” to shake them out of their illusions, ignorance, and physical consciousness.)
  • Scarlett retains her illusions about Ashley at this point, as he goes off to war one last time. Her remaining illusions parallel the remaining need of the South to be humiliated.
  • Melanie is utter goodness – though interestingly she never speaks out about the evil of slavery. Either it was taboo there to do so, or she is also ignorant somewhat at that level. Perhaps a bit of both. True Goodness is above goodness, as it retains its original Truth values.
  • Melanie is the latter on the way to the former. Maybe she dies for this – i.e. to move to the next level of consciousness that has Wisdom included in a next birth.
  • “Don’t worry, we’ll stop those Yankees,” says the black servants now fleeing Atlanta during the siege. Even they are living in their illusions, as they are too close to the slave owner class. In that way, their own race, which has been evily enslaved, has also now being devilishly co-opted.
  • Scarlett’s single-mindedness towards Ashley will evolve into a single-mindedness toward Tara. (In both cases, she will be fiercely determined. Those same energies will be shifted, redirected to enable her and her people survive. Her negative fierceness turns into a positive fierceness through the reality of war. )
  • Scarlett is the symbol of the South itself. Intensity of action of illusion changing into intensity of putting life back together to preserve their way of life after the war.
  • Scarlett is being forced into being human – by first having to take care of the soldiers, and then having to tend to Melanie who may be dying in childbirth.
  • Scarlett moves to survival mode. She is well-endowed to do so primarily because she is full of energy; inheriting capacities of her father and others.
  • With the Southern soldiers dying en masse, they too are driven out of their physicality.
  • Scarlett is forced to help in Melanie’s birth. Life is forcing her out of her intense selfishness.
  • With war destroying her world -- it is gone with the wind – she only wants to go to Tara, her lone sanctuary when all else has failed – her way of life, her need for Ashley.
  • Scarlett saves Melanie life -- her first and perhaps her only one great act of selflessness, even if forced on her. If we cannot be good, life will force us to be so; otherwise, we decay, become anachronistic, and die.
  • To her effort of helping Melanie with the baby, Rhett arrives and drives them safely to Tara, despite looters who would steal their carriage, and the dangers of the exploding sand burning city. It is a positive response for Scarlett whose life is saved in return for her effort with Melanie and baby. It is an indicator of the subtle energies that flow and how they manifest through such life response incidents.
  • Even Rhett who knew of the falsehood of the rebel-cause now regrets his own involvement in gunrunning for them. As a moral act, he decides to join the Southern army. He does this out of shame; out of a kind of masculine belief in being perceived as strong and tough; of taking part in the physical solution when war is raging. It is an interesting attitude. It may be honorable in one sense, but questionable in another.
  • Rhett loved Scarlett for her tenaciousness, spirit, even as he saw through her. He knew all her faults. Was it really love, or the need to conquer and tame a spirit that was out of control?
  • Rhett departs from Scarlett and goes to enlist.
  • Scarlett rejects his advances of love towards her.
  • Scarlett and Prissy reach Tara where they meet her father. Recall that in the beginning he said that the land was all that mattered. It was a predecessor statement, an initial statement that indicated, foretold the outcome. Life always presents predecessor indicators to specific events that follow; even to the final outcome of that chain.
  • Scarlett sees the cow and its utility. She is becoming practical! No opening here for selfish shenanigans in the name of her love for Ashley or otherwise.
  • Scarlett confronts the death of her mother who has died of typhoid.
  • One after another, she is battered into submission by the realities of life.
  • Scarlett’s father is losing his mind from the shock.
  • Even the slaves are helpless, and she is forced to take on their tasks. Now the humiliation of the South and advocacy of slavery has come full circle. Now she too has come full circle. She has reached the bottom. She is eating vegetation right out of the soil of Tara.
  • However, she rises to the occasion; and calls out, “as God is my witness, I will never be hungry again.” She is left to survive at the physical level that life has forced her down to.
  • The story could have easily ended here, but it goes on to show the post-war life: to show how she and the society attempted to rise out of their humiliation.
  • Tara survives the devastating defeat of the South. They now have to pick their own cotton. It is the law of karma in action.
  • Scarlett becomes tough with all around her. She is even beginning to become a leader, something foreign to her before. She is beginning to move from Character to Personality.
  • She kills the interloping Yankee deserter who threatens them. She has become psychologically strong in new ways -- in a much better sense. From the dead man, they now have money for food to eat. (It is symbolic of how the South became dependent on the North in the antebellum period. They were generous in the extreme, considering their stupidity that engendered a war that nearly ruined the country. And yet of course, as we know, they were bitter against what they perceived as excesses of the North. The vestige of their physicality still had occasion to shine through.)
  • The war finally ends. (It will be the most devastating war for Americans in history, including WWII. In fact, it was greater than the sum of all American causalities in all other wars that followed!)
  • They discover that Ashley is captured and is in prison.
  • Ashley returns home.
  • Tara desperately needs money – including funds to pay the Yankee taxes on them.
  • Scarlett now finally is beginning to accept the fact that Ashley does not and will not love her.
  • Her final illusion is beginning to be shattered.
  • She turns down an offer by the carpetbagger to purchase Tara. She insults him. Her father than rides after him and dies in a mishap. His physical attachment to the land leads to his death. The jump is also a predecessor of the jump that will kill Rhett and Scarlett’s child.
  • Mammy tells Scarlett how brave she has been.
  • Scarlett reaches for her last hope for money for Tara. She goes to Atlanta and seeks funds from the now Captain Rhett Butler, who is in jail for aiding the South.
  • The Yankees are after his money at the time she is also after his money (which is an interesting point that can be expanded on).
  • Scarlett is willing to marry him to save Tara.
  • He sees through her; that she doesn’t love him. And so they are not engaged.
  • She meets Frank, an on the rise merchant. She marries him for his money.
  • Scarlett is becoming a businessperson in trying to protect and build up Tara.
  • She is helping herself, being resourceful, and making her own way. She is willing to negotiate with anyone. She is showing a measure of individuality and rationality considering her circumstance.
  • Her illusions of love regarding Ashley are now met with the sad delusion of having to marry for money in light of the devastating foolish war precipitated by the Southern ignorance. It is life’s harsh response to her attitudes, and to that to the wider collective she is part of.
  • Scarlett rides alone through Shantytown and is attacked. A former servant (Sam) comes to her rescue. (Her work on behalf of the servants at Tara comes back as positive response from life through Sam in a negative situation. It is also a result of her willingness to interact with the Yankees.)
  • Yankees is really a slur term of the South – to marginalize and deface their brethren from up north. They are the Northerners, not the Yankees.
  • Ashley goes to a meeting at Shantytown in order to clean it up in light of the fact that Scarlett and others have been robbed and attacked. However, the Northerners are against this, and set up an ambush against Ashley and others. Rhett discovers this fact and asks Melanie where Ashley has gone so that he can warn him. (Imagine the man who in essence caused Scarlett to turn down his marriage proposal, is the man he seeks to save. What a noble character!) Now however both Ashley and Rhett are in danger.
  • When they return to home, they undertake a ruse. They arrive apparently drunk to show the soldiers that they have been drinking and not plotting the destruction of Shantytown. The plot works, and Ashley is saved. Rhett has again saved the man who was the object of Scarlett’s affections.
  • Belle also saves Ashley as a return of goodness to Melanie, who had always accepted her as is; i.e. as a prostitute.
  • Melanie is saintly; she always looked out for others. It is a great trait. She is the embodiment of Buddha and Jesus’ teachings – selflessness and utter compassion.
  • Rhett is continuously bemused by Scarlett -- seeing through her false front.
  • Rhett proposes to her. This time she accepts. She now has all the money she ever needed. It is life responding to her titanic efforts to save Tara. Rhett appearing on the scene to save Ashley and the opportunity for Rhett and Scarlett to meet again are all the result of Scarlett’s earlier hard-earned effort.
  • Rhett loves his child. The love that cannot be there between him and Scarlett in marriage, he gives to the child.
  • Mammy worries about the child riding horseback. She senses danger.
  • For Rhett, it is important to win Mammy’s respect. This aspiration shows Rhett’s high character; that one’s character really matters to him. He does finally win her respect.
  • Scarlett asserts her independence from Rhett. She does not want more children, or even continue their physical relationship. Rhett becomes desperate and forces himself on her.
  • Rhett suggests a divorce. She refuses (naturally so, considering she values their money relationship above all else in order to support Tara.)
  • Rhett goes on a trip to London and wants to take their daughter. On arrival, however, the child wishes to be back at Tara, and be with her mother.
  • Scarlett is pregnant, but has an accident and loses the baby. She never wanted it, and so it dies.
  • Their life together is steadily going downhill.
  • Rhett and Melanie have an almost spiritual-like relationship, which is very touching.
  • There conflict between Rhett and Scarlett is inflamed again. The child then dies in a jumping accident on her horse, recalling the death of Scarlet’s father. Rhett and Scarlett’s hatred of one another manifests through the death of the child.
  • Besides, Scarlett never wanted the child -- only Rhett’s money in the name of Tara.
  • Scarlett even has a premonition of it a moment before it happens. (This psychic phenomenon is a common occurrence in life, and it is valuable that the author has seen its possibility by including it in the story.)
  • Melanie collapses while in her own labor. She is dying. She asks Scarlett to take care of Ashley upon her death. It is a munificent gesture in the extreme. She also says be kind to Rhett, as she recognizes his goodness and character as well. Even in death, she is self-giving. It is her very soul’s intent and being.
  • It is interesting that Scarlett wants Ashley, but she is forced to take care of the wife of the man she loves.
  • Scarlett is finally detached from Ashley, as she now fully realizes that Ashley has always deeply loved Melanie.
  • Scarlett has finally gotten over the illusion that Ashley loved her when he confesses at Melanie’s death; -- that his whole life was Melanie; that he truly loved her. It is the final illusion that is shed in the story. It is Scarlett’s.
  • The South will rise again. Hopefully, it can shed its illusions and ignorance in the next round.
  • For Scarlett, now everything is gone -- Ashley, Melanie, Rhett, her father, her mother, and her child. Hence the title ‘Gone with the Wind.’ She only has herself.
  • Rhett at the end leaves because he sees no hope with her -- even now that out of a sense of desperation and loneliness she begins to truly want him. Maybe she even subconsciously now appreciates whet he has done in the past.
  • What will she do without him, she asks Rhett? With all of the years of Scarlett’s selfishness and his pain, he no longer cares, and so he just leaves.
  • Scarlett is alone. There is only Tara. It is the only thing that matters for her: because it is the only thing she has.
  • It is as if all there is left of the South is the land; that everything else is gone -- destroyed by their illusions and falsehood that bordered on evil.
  • And so from that point, they must go forward. As Scarlett is now prepared to do in her new life.

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