SCARLETT FEVER

Most of the time I can’t be bothered with being tied down to the commitment of a “favorite” for anything. There are certain songs, albums or bands that I like or love given a certain period of time. Sometimes it’s in line with its popularity—most of the time it’s not. Books are the same. I’ve read a lot of them, but certain ones will resonate with me for very different reasons. My taste in certain foods or clothes also change with time and….ahem…age. It’s the same with movies.

However, I can and do lay claim to Gone with the Wind as being my all-time favorite movie and book. I own the book, the DVD and previously owned the VHS. It all began when I ran across it by accident on television when I was a kid. I watched it on AMC every year around Christmas time (which is probably why I dig out the DVD around the same time each year—I probably ought to invest in the Blue-ray at this point).

At any rate, while that story has fascinated me over the years and my opinion of it has changed as I have gotten older, one thing holds true as far as why Gone with the Wind has remained a favorite of mine—Katie Scarlett O’Hara. The love affair she has with Rhett Butler may have something to do with it too. After all, despite the cynic in me there is a true romantic at heart (don’t forget–a cynic is just a broken hearted idealist). And, I have always had a natural affinity for period pieces (yes, I love Downton Abbey too).

While a central premise of the story is about change (political, lifestyle, ideas, power, etc.), what spoke to me was something utterly different. That being a strong, dominant female who was ahead of her time. So far ahead of her time, in fact, that she was ostracized, shamed and nearly completely shunned for it amongst her peers.

While many could, and rightfully so, on the surface analyze Scarlett O’Hara as a charmingly manipulative, cunning, uncaring woman who lied and/or betrayed her family and friends, there was far deeper meaning behind her behavior and in decisions she made. Regardless of great fear in her, she had a courage within to do the deeds needed to be done knowing all along that others would disapprove of her completely.

Yet, despite many of her faux pas, and knowing her reputation would be damaged, she squared her shoulders and carried on, doing what she needed to–what others wouldn’t dare dream of doing because it was socially unacceptable for a “lady.” Those who held steadfast to those ideals lost their homes, everything they owned and/or starved–unless they knew Scarlett. And, all while they condemned Scarlett for her seemingly despicable behavior they had little qualm with accepting the bounty she harvested. She kept many fed and clothed when they couldn’t or didn’t know how to help themselves. She had to figure it out all on her own.

Only three people truly understood Scarlett: Mammy, Melanie and Rhett. They may not have approved of her decisions or behavior at the same time or for the same reasons, but they all loved her and admired her for her bravery and strength and saw her well enough to know where her weaknesses of the heart truly rested–even if, in the end, Rhett gave up. But, that too is a deeper story that I shall not delve into right now.

Sleep tight for me. I’m gone.

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About Jan Rain

See the About page. View all posts by Jan Rain

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