Gone with the Wind is a classic, but until this week, I’d never seen it.
I know, I know. How could I consider myself a true romantic and lover of the Victorian era if I’d not immersed myself in Margaret Mitchell’s masterpiece?
Well, I remedied that Wednesday night, watching all three hours and fifty-four minutes in one sitting. And, no, Gwynly, wonderful guy that he is, didn’t join me for my marathon. Since my teacher hubby had school the next day, I excused him.
So, you might be wondering what I thought of the show. Did I fall in love with it as so many have?
Um, how shall I say this without sounding like I have no heart?
Ah, yes. I’ll be tactful and simply say I didn’t care for it.
Now, before your chin hits the floor or you think I’m touched in the head, let me say that I can see why so many are die-hard Gone with the Wind fans. The story is compelling. The acting is great. And the costumes are wonderful.
I have two reasons why the show didn’t work for me: I didn’t like three of the main characters, and I can’t stand the ending.
Scarlett is beautiful–on the outside. Inside she’s selfish. She’ll do or say whatever it takes to get what she wants, and she doesn’t care who she hurts in the process. Stealing her sister’s beau is reprehensible in my book. And that’s just the beginning of her manipulations and machinations. Her obsession with Ashley causes nothing but trouble and threatens his happiness as well as the happiness of his sweeter than sweet wife, Mellie, the one main character I like (although I think she’s pretty clueless or has a serious case of denial.)
Even when Scarlett captures Rhett’s heart and gives him her hand in marriage, her obsession with Ashley prevents her from loving Rhett in return. She doesn’t even care for her own daughter all that much. I do appreciate the fact that she honored her promise to Ashley and took care of Mellie. But overall, I don’t like Scarlett. She’s a spoiled rich girl who reaps what she sows, and I have a hard time feeling sorry for her.
Rhett, while charming, is a scoundrel. He earned his fortune illegally, frequents brothels, and is no gentleman. Sure, he’s a man’s man and a bad boy, but I like a man who has morals. To his credit, I loved that Rhett loves Scarlett so deeply and so passionately, but I think his indulgence keeps her from growing and becoming a better person. I like a hero who brings out the best in a heroine, not one who condones her bad behavior until he’s had enough and walks away.
Ashley needs a backbone. He never stands up to Scarlett or puts Mellie first. Only when his wife is on her deathbed does he say he doesn’t love Scarlett. Until then he’s been emotionally unfaithful to his sweet, devoted wife. And he even indulges in that stolen kiss that fuels Scarlett’s obsession. I realize that if he’d been an honorable gentleman, treated his wife well, and severed his ties to Scarlett, the story would have fallen apart. But that’s what I wanted to see. Not another man who’s fallen under Scarlett’s spell.
And the ending? Sheesh. Could it get any more depressing? Rhett and Scarlett’s daughter dies. Mellie and the baby she’s carrying die. Then Rhett walks out on Scarlett, the one woman he professed to love. Of course, considering he threatened divorce a number of times, this doesn’t come as a surprise. But really. After investing nearly four hours, I wanted a happy ending. Perhaps it’s the romance writer in me, but death and divorce are depressing. I ached to see the characters grow and change and become better people than they were at the start. Instead, I felt gypped.
If you’ve read this far and aren’t ready to chuck rotted fruit at me, I’d love to hear what it is about Gone with the Wind that countless fans find so endearing.
What did I miss? Why is it such a beloved classic?
I invite you to set me straight.