Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind

This page was updated January 3, 2023 by jtk and is current : Go Back Home

Book Cover: Gone with the WindGone With the Wind was published in 1936, ten years after Mitchell began writing it. An instant best-seller and cultural classic upon publication, Gone With the Wind became, and remains even now, one of the best-selling novels of all time. It won the 1937 Pulitzer Prize. In the late 1930s a film version of the novel was planned, and David O. Selznick's nationwide search for an actress to play Scarlett O'Hara captivated the nation's attention. The resulting film starred Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable as Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler, and it quickly became one of the most popular motion pictures of all time.

Gone With the Wind has been selected as the first book on PeaceLove dot me's reading list for the year 2023. Today is Tuesday January 3rd, 2023 and I have already read the first two chapters. The goal is to complete the book by the end of the week, because there is another book on the schedule.

Gone With the Wind differs from most Civil War novels by glorifying the South and demonizing the North. Other popular novels about the Civil War, such as Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage, are told from a Northern perspective and tend to exalt the Union's values. Mitchell's novel is unique also for its portrayal of a strong-willed, independent woman, Scarlett O'Hara, who shares many characteristics with author Mitchell herself. Mitchell frequently defied convention, divorcing her first husband and pursuing a career in journalism despite the disapproval of society.

Mitchell was less than thrilled by the sweeping popularity of her work. She found the acclaim uncomfortable and grew exhausted and ill. Gone With the Wind is her only novel, though she continued to write nonfiction. Mitchell volunteered extensively during World War II and seemed to regain her strength. In 1949 a car struck and killed her while she was crossing Peachtree Street in Atlanta.

Many critics question the literary merit and outdated racial stances of Gone With the Wind. Some consider the novel fluffy, partly because women of Mitchell's time rarely received credit for serious literary fiction and partly because the novel features a romance alongside its historical plot. Both blacks and whites have harshly criticized Mitchell's sympathetic depiction of slavery and the Ku Klux Klan and her racist depiction of blacks. The novel is most valuable if read with an understanding of three historical conexts: our own, Mitchell's, and Scarlett's.

It was the spring of 1861. Protagonist Scarlett O'Hara, a Southern belle, lives on Tara, a large plantation in Georgia. She concerns herself only with her numerous suitors and her desire to marry one Ashley Wilkes. At the beginning of this novel, she learns that Ashley has become engaged to a rival, Melanie Hamilton, his frail, plain cousin from Atlanta. At a barbecue at the Wilkes plantation the next day, Scarlett confesses her feelings to Ashley. He tells her that he does love her but that she is marrying Melanie because she is similar to him, whearas he and Scarlett are very different. Scarlett slaps Ashley and he leaves the room. Suddenly, Scarlett realizes that she is not alone. Rhett Butler, a scandalous but dashing adventurer, has been watching the whole scene, and he compliments Scarlett on being unladylike.

The first chapter of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind is an effective introduction to the time period, characters, and relationships that will be explored throughout the novel. The chapter introduces the reader to the main characters of Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler, as well as the setting of Atlanta, Georgia, during the Civil War.

The chapter begins by introducing the reader to Scarlett’s home, Tara. Mitchell effectively portrays the home as a symbol of Scarlett’s upbringing, as she “was bred in the tradition of the Old South,” and the home is described as “old, gracious, and wealthy.” This helps the reader to understand Scarlett’s values and background.

The reader also gets an introduction to Scarlett’s family, including her parents and two sisters. Mitchell quickly shows that Scarlett is the favorite, as she is “the prettiest of the O’Hara girls” and is allowed more freedom than her siblings. Mitchell also establishes the relationship between Scarlett and her father, Gerald O’Hara, as he is “the first gentleman of the county.”

The chapter then introduces the reader to the character of Rhett Butler. Rhett is described as a “man with a mysterious past,” and it is quickly established that he is not accepted in Scarlett’s social circle. This sets up the tumultuous relationship between Scarlett and Rhett that will be explored throughout the novel.

The final part of the chapter focuses on the impending war and the impact it will have on Scarlett and her family. Mitchell effectively conveys the sense of dread that hangs over the O’Hara’s as the war approaches, and the reader is left with a sense of foreboding as the chapter ends.

Overall, the first chapter of Gone With the Wind is an effective introduction to the novel’s characters, setting, and themes. Mitchell effectively establishes Scarlett and Rhett’s contrasting backgrounds and sets the stage for the tumultuous relationship between them. The sense of impending doom that weighs over the O’Hara family is also effectively conveyed, leaving the reader eager to find out what will happen next.


Book Cover: Gone with the WindIf you are interested in reading the book along with me, I can deliver a paperback copy to you for $20.00. It will help to support this channel and you will own one of the all-time great classics of literature in the English language.

Since its original publication in 1936, Gone With the Wind—winner of the Pulitzer Prize and one of the bestselling novels of all time—has been heralded by readers everywhere as The Great American Novel.

Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read.

Widely considered The Great American Novel, and often remembered for its epic film version, Gone With the Wind explores the depth of human passions with an intensity as bold as its setting in the red hills of Georgia. A superb piece of storytelling, it vividly depicts the drama of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

This is the tale of Scarlett O’Hara, the spoiled, manipulative daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, who arrives at young womanhood just in time to see the Civil War forever change her way of life. A sweeping story of tangled passion and courage, in the pages of Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell brings to life the unforgettable characters that have captured readers for over seventy years.  

This is a brand new, trade size paperback book.  Softcover, 960 pages.


Gone With the Wind was selected as the first book on Peace Love dot me's reading list for the year 2023. The rest of the reading list can be found here.


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