Wherein I attempt to write a review using all the new words I learned whilst reading the book. My made-up-on-the-spot rule is one per sentence, to mak...moreWherein I attempt to write a review using all the new words I learned whilst reading the book. My made-up-on-the-spot rule is one per sentence, to make it a challenge. (Glossary at end of review.)
I hope you won’t look upon my review as mere folderol, but the most interesting things to be said about Gone With the Wind have been said over and over: it’s breathtaking, sweeping, American, but also racist and exacerbating. Everyone needs to read the story of one of literature’s best tragic heroines: Scarlett O’Hara, a Southern hoyden who Mitchell has managed to make complex, despite Scarlett's shallow ways. Scarlett normally has pinchbeck pretensions, even towards people she loves. She could inveigle even the most reluctant of men, just to get her way, particularly in marriage. When the reader watches her associate with carpetbaggers and parvenus, forsaking her friends, it’s hard not to cheer when she gets her just rewards. She’s frequently a hypocrite; she criticizes old County farmers who never manumitted a single slave, yet she complains later about the freed slaves in Atlanta.
And then we have Rhett, that dashing scalawag, and the only person who can call Scarlett’s bluffs. He’s a man who has approbation for others with strong morals without pretension. He coolly presents verbal zingers, even against his lover, foe, and termagant. Even though Rhett can be rapacious, he has a strong inner code that endears him to the reader. His sibling-like relationship with Melly, a sometimes pusillanimous character, is especially touching.
Finally, there is the South: Tara and Atlanta, belles and gentlemen, slaves and cotton, portieres and hoop-skirts. Scarlett, as representation of the South, is a product of her parents: her Irish immigrant, stentor father Gerald, and kindhearted but stoic stalwart mother, Ellen. And as the South rapidly changes and leaves behind it’s old ways, so too is Scarlett able to adapt to her new positions – and this is what helps the reader somewhat forgive some of her rankling, vituperative ways.
It was hard not to become lachrymose at the end of Gone With the Wind – I am mourning the loss of these characters in my life.
Word List: * approbation: approval; commendation. * carpetbagger: U.S. History . a Northerner who went to the South after the civil war and became active in Republican politics, especially so as to profiteer from the unsettled social and political conditions of the area during Reconstruction. * folderol: mere nonsense; foolish talk or ideas. Also, falderal * hoyden: a boisterous, bold, and carefree girl; a tomboy * inveigle: to entice, lure, or ensnare by flattery or artful talk or inducements (usually followed by into) * lachrymose: given to shedding tears readily; tearful. * manumitted: to release from slavery or servitude. * portieres: a curtain hung in a doorway, either to replace the door or for decoration. * pinchbeck: sham, spurious, or counterfeit * parvenu: a person who has recently or suddenly acquired wealth, importance, position, or the like, but has not yet developed the conventionally appropriate manners, dress, surroundings, etc. * pusillanimous: lacking courage or resolution; cowardly; faint-hearted; timid. * rapacious: inordinately greedy; predatory; extortionate * scalawag: 1. a scamp; rascal. 2. U.S. History . a native white Southerner who collaborated with the occupying forces during Reconstruction, often for personal gain. * stentor: a person having a very loud or powerful voice. * termagant: a violent, turbulent, or brawling woman. * vituperative: characterized by the nature of verbal abuse or castigation (less)