Saturday, 14 April 2012

Setting the scene!

The story begins with a 16 year old Scarlett and her friends the Tarleton twins, Stuart and Brent (both are not entirely pivotal to the plot so don't worry about remembering them!), basically gossiping and chatting away on the front verandah of Tara, the O'Hara plantation (see picture below). The boys mention to Scarlett that they have been sworn to secrecy about a certain piece of gossip, and of course, she desperately wants to know what it is! The boys oblige, and it is at this point that we find out that Ashley Wilkes is going to be announcing his engagement to his cousin (!) Melanie Hamilton at the barbecue held at Twelve Oakes (his family plantation) the following day. Scarlett is instantly upset (the blind twins do not pick up on this), and dismisses the two of them as quickly as she can.

Scarlett at Tara

Gossiping with the twins.    

Here we discover that Scarlett is desperately in love with Ashley. The two of them have known each other all their childhood, and as they have grown up have become close friends. Ashley is so different to Scarlett, that she is in awe of his quiet, soulful being. She believes that he is just as in love with her, and has expected him to propose for some time, so you can imagine how heartbroken she is at the news of his engagement (and to Melanie, no less. We are led to believe that she is not too fond of this character!) Scarlett starts to devise a plan to TELL Ashley that she loves him, because he couldn't possibly marry someone else when he knows, well and good, that she loves him and wants to marry him! Mind made up and terribly happy with herself, Scarlett is not even put off by her father finding her contemplating and trying to warn her about having feelings for Ashley by telling her, "Only when like marries like can there be happiness", alluding to the fact that the personalities of Scarlett and Ashley are quite different, hence they would not make a happy marriage. You see here how strong willed Scarlett is, even to a man, and how much her father admires her for it.

Mammy is the ladies maid for the the O'Hara women, and has raised Scarlett and her sisters, Sue Ellen and Careen, and there is not one piece of news or gossip that gets past her. Mammy helps Scarlett get ready for the barbecue (disapproving of her low neckline and stubborn refusal to eat any breakfast), and alludes to knowing how Scarlett feels about Ashley.

Mammy helping Scarlett dress
What do you think of Scarlett at this point? Anyone would think her just another teen in love, who, at the first sight of heart break, will be angry and sad at first but then move onto the next 'great love'. This is a very different day and age, and Scarlett is very much in love, and as you read further into the book, it's hard to argue with her undying love. She is so devoted to Ashley from afar, it's hard to imagine her feelings ever changing. Which they don't for practically the whole story. Wait and see...

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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