FIFTY SHADES OF A COLOR*
*I have just noticed maybe Margaret Mitchell used homophony and meronymy to name the two characters with clear purpose: Scarlett and...
*I have just noticed maybe Margaret Mitchell used homophony and meronymy to name the two characters with clear purpose: Scarlett and Rhett (Red) are two shades of the same color.
Since I was still a secondary school girl, I have heard a lot about “Gone with the wind” in many ways. The first adjectives appearing in my mind whenever I think about this novel are “Classic” and “Romantic”, based on the praise and description about it. I have always been curious about the film, especially when I saw the beauty of the actress playing Scarlett O’Hara.
“Gone with the wind” - an epic candidate to embodish both American Literature and Filmology, whose plot was created by Margaret Mitchell in 1936, has the setting in the American South around the time of the Civil War. Refering to its phenomenal success, it would be a mistake if we complement its plot only and skip the characters. There have been numerous critics for the two protagonists of the story, however, it does not prevent me from expressing my own thoughts on Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler due to their strong impression.
When the story opens, Scarlett O’Hara was a pretty sixteen-year-old girl with dark hair, green eyes and slim figure, one evidence was her 47-cm waist. Unlike the other girls, her choice of outfits challenged the traditional unwriten rules for ladies. For example, she insisted on wearing a rather skin-revealing dress before 3:00 p.m to attend a party at The Twelve Oaks. Normally, she had special care to her appearance and outfits, however, during the difficult time of Tara, she told her sister that having pretty hands – symbols of a lady – was no longer a concern in that situation. At the beginning of the story, she used to quarrel with her sister for a dress, but when Tara suffered from the war, she did not care about appearance anymore until she thought of enducing Rhett Butler for money and accepted wearing a dress made from window curtain.These details prove that on the outside, Scarlett can be a charming, dreamy, feminine and somehow spoiled lady, however, she was truly fiery and practical at core.
Having parents as different as chalk and cheese, Scarlett inheritted their both significant featues. While Ellen O’Hara was a refined French aristocrat, Genald O’Hara was a fun and free-spirited father, who stemmed from a humble background but thanks to hard-headedness and a bit of luck, he could enjoy a better life. Scarlett resembled Ellen in the way she appeared to the outsiders but on the inside, she was more like her father, especially the determination. This characteristic is the driving force for her actions during the story, from her first attempt in expressing her love with Ashley Wikes, best manifested in the War time and highly probable to continue even after the story ended on the pages.
The most exciting thing about Scarlett O’Hara is her personality. Although her aforementioned appearance and background have partially revealed who she is, it is her actions and words throughout the story that define Scarlett O’Hara. Notably, we can see the development of this character along with the chronological events. In the first part of the film, I can easily name three values that Scarlett appreciated: herself, herself and herself. She was as pretty as narcissus but she was also a narcissist, illustrated by her attitudes and actions towards other characters. Around her were often many men and boys, she flirted with them to feed her pride and make other jealous of her. Despite knowing Melanie and Ashley were going to get married, Scarlett still expressed her love for Ashley regardless of his fiance’s feelings, and even after they were husband and wife, she still pursued her desperate love and hurt others. Scarlett got married with the first two husbands without love just to revenge Ashley and got money. Even after the unfortunate husbands died, she never shed a tear for them but for her own sake and shallow guilt. When Scarlett was a nurse in Atlanta, she could not bear it because she only thought about how disgusted and terrified she was. In these details, Melanie’s kind heart and selflessness highlighted the sharp contrast between the two sisters-in-law. Scarlett’s care for herself represents to some extent American values: self-reliance and individualism. It may be terrible for people around Scarlett but definitely benefit herself and helped her achieve ambitious goals.
Another striking feature of Scarlett is her intelligence. The way she talked with boys, the way she managed through difficulties, saved Tara, run successfully a sawmill in Atlanta, etc proved her outstanding talent compared with other typical ladies at that time.
It is hard to say Scarlett is a loyal woman or not without any explanation. She was definitely faithful to her love for Ashley since teenagehood till having 3 husbands. The wrong thing here is they were not single; they all had their partners, yet still had improper behavior. Her infidelity resulted in tragedy for all four people: Ashley and Melanie, Rhett and herself.
The thing I admire Scarlett O’Hara the most is her strong determination. Once she wanted to achieve something, she would take any measures necessary and forget concepts like honor and kindness. Even at the darkest moment of war, this woman still did not give up on hope and a better future. She overcame social prejudices to enjoy life, to run a carriage, to manage a sawmill. I support her as a strong-minded woman, yet do not agree totally with her heartless methods from time to time.
On a whole, Scarlett may be a bad girl who only thought for herself but sometimes she was quite adorable and childlike, especially when she was near Rhett. For example, when they ran away from Atlanta, she told him: “I forgot to lock the door”, and afterward she cried like a baby missing home and insisting on seeing mother. She also resembled a child’s excitement when she was cared by Rhett in New Orleans.
Unlike Scarlett O’Hara, we hardly know anything about Rhett Butler based on his background and appearance. This man’s personality can only be revealed through his sayings, actions and interactions with others. Under the cover of a gentleman with signature smirk is a cunny, wise, quick-witted, decisive and brave man. Sometimes we can feel that Rhett is like a male version of Scarlett.Thanks to his wit, he could quickly took advantage of the war and became rich. Once he wanted to achieve something, he would also take any measures necessary. He was the only man that can understand her best, even better than Scarlett herself. Although he may have any woman he wanted, he still loved Scarlett years after years. Between these two is a special chemistry: they may be bad in other people’s eyes but strangely compatible with each other despite Scarlett could not realize it sometimes. However, on the whole, I think Rhett seemed to be less selfish than Scarlett. He risked his life to save Scarlett, joined the army because of honor, he cared about others’ feelings, no matter what class they came from, no matter that person is Melanie or Mammy. He also behaved more rationally, could keep calm and conscious in almost every situation, except for when it related to the two people he loved the most: his wife and daughter. That was also his weakness, we can see how heartbreaking he was when he knew Scarlett, despite his unconditional love for her, still loved Ashley, and when his beloved daughter died, he was literally insane until Melanie came. Overall, I do not think we can classify Rhett Butler as a completely good guy, but this man has some admirable characteristics which definitely deserved widespread recognition.
All in all, the two classic characters had made a strong impression on me as well as many other audiences. Black or white, we can not classify them in one word, and that is why I love the complexity and development of these characters. A strange love story between two extraordinary people will have a happy ending or not, based on their personality, I can not give a certain anticipation, nevertheless, even without knowing the ending, we can still admire them for themselves only.
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