Saturday, 14 April 2012

In mourning, Rhett and Christmas

Sadly, or not so sadly for Scarlett, Charles dies of pneumonia once enlisted and off to war. What upsets Scarlett more is the fact that she is now a widow... at 17!! There is nothing worse than being widowed and to now have to be in mourning and wear the drab black morning attire, and Scarlett declares that her life may as well be over. Especially since she is to have Charles' child (In the book, Scarlett does have a son, Wade Hampton, but he is hardly mentioned because she has such disdain for being a mother. In the movie, he has been written out completely, so I won't mention too much more about him).

Melanie is living with her Aunt Pittypat in Atlanta, and begs Scarlett to bring her baby and come to stay with them and grieve over Charles' death together. Scarlett goes - in need of new scenery and a busy place like Atlanta to lift her spirits, and the idea that at any time Ashely could be given leave and come home pushes into going. Scarlett has not given up hope that Ashley will one day realise his mistake at marrying Melanie, and declare his love for her, and somehow they will be together. She is one of the most stubborn characters ever written, and it's easy to think her foolish and naive, but what one has to remember is that she is only young, and very much in love, and what Scarlett wants, Scarlett gets. 

Scarlett and Melanie in mourning.

While in Atlanta, the women and men do everything in their power to raise money for 'the cause' and to help their men at the front. Scarlett is utterly over being in mourning, and not being allowed to wear pretty things and dance like the other ladies. Melanie and Scarlett attend a Bazaar (dance), and they work on the stalls selling goods to raise money and awareness for their men. Rhett Butler is at the dance, having shocked the town by not enlisting, and blatantly dismissing the war as a lost cause, and is just as much a rogue as ever. Melanie is one person who believes him to have a good heart, and Scarlett can't forget their confrontation in the Twelve Oaks library. 

Here is a scene from the dance that is quite fabulous...

What a scandal!! Rhett then takes it upon himself to "get Scarlett out of that fake mourning", and begins to call on her and bring her gifts. Scarlett knows this is highly unorthodox of him, but is so wanting to wear lovely things again she just can't say no. She does feel something for Rhett, but it is mostly disdain towards him, so she tolerates him and his teasing and cruel jibes at her. You can tell that Rhett is quite taken with Scarlett, and finds her highly amusing, and yet you're never quite sure if he's in love with her, or just wants to make jokes at her expense for his own amusement. 

Here is another scene with Rhett and Scarlett... Perhaps one of my favourites...

So terrifically written and acted. There really could not have been anyone else so perfect to play the roles of Scarlett and Rhett. 

And so they go about their business, Rhett calling on Scarlett with gifts, everyone in Atlanta being outraged by it, Melanie defending Scarlett at every turn. And then Christmas comes and Ashely gets leave to come  home for the holiday...

Scarlett is overcome with joy to have Ashley home, as is Melanie, yet everyone can tell that the war is having a sad effect on the men. What they thought would be a a war of a few weeks has turned into months upon endless months, with no sign of stopping any time soon. 
And yet another frustrating scene, is Scarlett giving Ashley a Christmas present that she has made for him before he leaves to go to the front again, and practically throwing herself at him. Ashley, being the weak character that he is, cannot help himself and kisses Scarlett before realising his mistake and running out on her. 

Scarlett and Ashley at Christmas.

Ashley, about to kiss Scarlett.

Scarlett, begging Ashley to run away with her.

What do you think of Ashley's behaviour? Or Scarlett's, for that matter? I have torn my hair out going around in circles about their feelings towards each other, and would love some other opinions!! I'm sure Ashley would be eating himself up inside for being unfaithful to Melanie, and you are quite repulsed by his actions towards both women, but you can't help feel sorry for him. My conclusion always seems to come back to him being such a weak character, that he can't help his love for them both. 

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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