Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Getting to know them...

I think, to truly delve into a story, you must first know your characters a little. Every good book will give you an overview of 'the main players' so I am going to do the same (but only the really main ones!). 

Scarlett O'Hara

The book begins by saying that Scarlett "was not beautiful, but men seldom realised it when caught by her charm" (Mitchell), however, even if the casting for the movie didn't make you think twice about how she looked, the further you get into the story, the more you realise that she really probably was quite striking. The casting choice of Vivien Leigh for the 1939 movie is, in my opinion, fabulous.
Scarlett is an incredibly strong character; I would personally describe her as the character you love to hate. She is feisty, stubborn and spoilt. As you are given an insight into her musings throughout the story, you really come to realise that she is terribly selfish in her thoughts, and even childlike. This is not surprising, considering she begins the story as a 16 year old. However, as the book progresses, you come to understand her wilful nature, and anyone reading the book will recognise Scarlett's good intentions, even when she doesn't. 

Rhett Butler

Rhett is undoubtedly my favourite character. He is the epitome of suave - handsome, witty, charming and with a "devil may care" attitude towards his position with the gentlemen and ladies of the county. He revels in doing the exact opposite of what a gentleman should, and as a result he is not "received" in the homes of the gentle folk because of some mysterious scandal involving a young lady. Scarlett is the first and only woman Rhett waits for, and it is obvious how in love he is, yet this is always covered with teasing and small insults, which set Scarlett's blood boiling. They are incredibly alike, which makes their interactions delicious. 
As you delve further into the book, you come to realise that Rhett has a much kinder heart than he lets on, and this is the part that truly makes you fall in love with him. One wonders what took Scarlett so long to do so (this, and the fact that he is played by Clark Gable in the movie... SWOON!).

Ashley Wilkes

Ashley Wilkes (played by Leslie Howard in the movie) is Scarlett's unrequited love. She is desperately in love with him, and naively goes about trying to win him throughout the whole book, despite the fact that he is married to Melanie. Ashley is one of my least favourite characters, even though he is one of the most easily read characters in the book. He is a southern gentleman, born and bred, and knows no other way of living. A gentle soul, with a penchant for travel, books, music and art, Ashley is in love with Scarlett in his own way, but finds his soul mate, a kindred spirit, in Melanie. 

Melanie Hamilton

Melly is Ashley's cousin (!) and wife in the book. She is the most kind-hearted, genuine character in the book, and, I'd wager, of all time. She loves Scarlett dearly, and even though you're thinking the whole time that she must surely be aware of how Scarlett feels towards Ashley, she is blind to it (or is she??), and remains loyal to her throughout the book. Even though at first Melanie is seen to be a weak character in a physical sense, you come to realise that she is one of the strongest in character and gumption. She is another of my favourites, because she is utter class, in every way, and is steadfast in her beliefs, and her trust in the people she loves.

Mitchell, M .(1974). 'Gone With The Wind'. Pan Books Ltd, Cavaye Place, London, MacMillan London Ltd.

All still frames and movie clips courtesy of Selznick International Pictures and MGM.

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