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This page is for tropes that have appeared in Gone with the Wind.

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  • Adaptational Heroism: Rhett in the books messes up two chances to reconcile with Scarlett while they are married by mentioning that he was out with Belle Watling, a prostitute, after the night he raped Scarlett while they were both drunk. He also goes missing for days, leaving Scarlett to worry about him. In the film he's with her the morning after "that night," and politely announces he's leaving with Bonnie on vacation.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The gist of the story is in the film.
    • The film adaptation saved GWTW as popular culture. First, by making Bonnie an only child (see Demoted to Extra entry below), her impact on the story was exponentially more important and believable. Second, by changing the circumstances of the shanty town raid, producer Selznick unwittingly saved the movie from the same future fate as the previous blockbuster record-holder about the Civil War.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Cathleen Calvert in her brief appearance.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: Scarlett's reasons for marrying Frank Kennedy by lying about Sue-Ellen marrying someone else instead of asking for a loan are excised from the film since we don't see her thought process. As a result, in the film she comes off as more of a Jerkass for stealing Frank and marrying him for his money.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Pity Scarlett's children from her first two marriages. In the book, they exist to be emotionally neglected by Scarlett, her son Wade Hamilton is a nervous wreck, her daughter Ella Kennedy is implied to have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and the only people who seem to care about them are their aunt omnibenevolent Melanie and their stepfather Rhett (who half the time is too busy spoiling his own child (literally) to death to care). Scarlett does try to help them when Rhett chews her out for not realizing that she did to them, by traumatizing Wade and drinking sherry while pregnant with Ella, but she realizes her children have become strangers to her and it's too late to reconcile. They don't even exist in the movie.
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    • Poor Will. In the book is an important aid and sounding board to Scarlett after her family nurses him to health. He even marries Sueellen, somewhat mitigated the sad (but somewhat deserved) position she is in after Scarlett marries her longtime beau.
    • Same with Archie.
  • Adult Fear:
    • War Is Hell, for both the South and the North in the novel. For Scarlett and her friends, while still teenagers, they find out uncomfortably that the men literally may die for their so-called ideals while the women are left behind, either as widows or spinsters.
    • For modern readers, the fact that the book excises the grisly realities of slavery.
    • Bonnie's death, when Scarlett only realizes too late what is happening and faints.
  • Alcohol Hic: Scarlett after the death of her second husband.
  • Alliterative Name: Bonnie Blue Butler.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Ashley speaks several times that no one can understand what's going on in his head after the war, going so far as to tell Scarlett "if you only understood what I've been through." It's clear to a modern-day audience that he's is suffering from PTSD after the war. At the time the book is set, psychology was nowhere close to understanding the effects war had on men, and a man who experienced PTSD symptoms was expected to suck it up, and deal with it without telling anyone. At the time the book was written, the term "shell shock", the forerunner to a formal diagnosis of PTSD, had only become prevalent in WWI, and symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder would only truly begin to be understood thirty years later after the Vietnam War.
    • The description of Scarlett's demeanor after having Wade sounds very much like post-partum depression, but at best, people assume it's sadness over Charles' death.
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  • Analogy Backfire: At one point, Dr. Meade argues that General Johnston cannot be dislodged from the Kennesaw Mountain:
    Dr. Meade: The mountain fastnesses has always been the refuge and the strong forts of people since the ancient times. Think of - think of Thermopylae!
    Rhett: They died to the last man at Thermopylae, didn't they, Doctor?
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Scarlett delivers one to Ashley in the library which Rhett overhears.
  • Arc Symbol: the silhouette of a tree.
  • Attempted Rape: Scarlett is attacked by two hobos while riding through the local Shantytown.
  • Babies Make Everything Better:
    • Melanie is very fond of this idea, and Frank believes that if Scarlett becomes pregnant, she will stop caring about her business and settle into motherhood. He is very mistaken, however.
    • Even the shrewd, cynical Scarlett believes this when she gets pregnant for the fourth time and is happy about it for the first time, thinking that the baby will be the key to reconciling with Rhett. Unfortunately this ends up being completely inverted—she miscarries and it's the beginning of the end for them. Later, after Bonnie's death, she admits that she would be willing to have another child if that what's it will take to bring Rhett out of his grief.
    • Rhett as well, as he admits that when Bonnie was born, he believed that there was still hope of salvaging his marriage to Scarlett. Even as the marriage has effectively died, he still felt that her presence meant some measure of happiness for them, but, "when she died, she took everything."
  • Be Careful What You Say: When Scarlett mentions with resentment that she is carrying another child, Rhett notes sarcastically that maybe an accident will take care of it. This makes Scarlett angry, she tries to hit him, he dodges and she falls down the stairs leading to a miscarriage.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For:
    • The Southern boys wanting to go to war.
    • Scarlett's wish to be rid of Melanie.
    • Rhett's desire to have Scarlett.
  • Belated Love Epiphany: Scarlett doesn't see that Melanie was her closest and truest friend until Melanie is on her deathbed. Nor does she realize that she loves Rhett much more than she loves Ashley until Rhett decides to leave her.
  • Betrayal by Inaction: Justified in the famous ending. Scarlett had always been a Manipulative Bitch, but at some point Rhett has enough and simply walks away from her, her problems no longer being his concern.
    • As well, Scarlett finally starts to become disillusioned with Ashley when he fails to speak up in her defense after the two are caught in a genuinely innocent hug. By the end of the book, having finally realized that she never really loved him, she realizes that he has always let her down, usually by failing to do something if/when she needed him to.
  • Betty and Veronica: Gone with the Wind lives on this trope. There are two subversions, however:
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Melanie's reaction to Scarlett killing a Union deserter was "I'm glad you killed him!" after running down the stairs with her brother's sword. And she pulled out a pistol when she thought Yankee soldiers were about to break into her home.
    • This is never shown in the book, but in the movie, when Sue-ellen is sobbing over Scarlett having married her fiancee right under her nose, it sounds like Melanie says something to Sue-ellen like, "Well, she had to do it to save Tara." Which means that either Scarlett told Melanie her reasons for marrying Frank or that Melanie figured it out for herself. Either way, Melanie is completely on board with Scarlett doing this, and is chiding Sue-ellen for feeling the way she does. Although there is a certain Values Dissonance in that Melanie does say a few things in both the book and the movie that sound horribly callous to a modern day audience but which for the time would have been gentle and sound advice. Particularly when it comes to marriage, which was quite mercenary at the time.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Rhett does this a couple of times, but never completely successfully.
  • Big Eater: Scarlett openly loves to eat, unlike the typical Southern belle—one of her few legitimate reasons for liking Ashley is that he's told her he likes to see a girl with a healthy appetite.
  • Big Fancy House: Tara, Twelve Oaks, Mimosa, Fairhill, all the other plantations within vicinity of Tara, possibly as well the house that Scarlett builds in Atlanta when she marries Rhett, although Rhett never loses an opportunity to slip in a remark about how grotesque it is.
  • Birds of a Feather: Scarlett and Rhett, Ashley and Melanie. Part of Scarlett's arc is realizing this.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: When she cares enough, Scarlett can manipulate almost any man into thinking of her as a sweet, innocent, delicate flower of womanhood.
    • This is played with quite a bit throughout Gone with the Wind and Scarlett. Scarlett may be a scheming, lying bitch under her flirtatious and demure exterior, but she can be quite naive and innocent about the really nasty stuff that goes on behind closed doors and in society. E.g., in Charleston, she is actively shocked and sickened when she finds out that adultery is actually really quite common among married people.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Even though Melanie has died and Rhett has left her, Scarlett still finds strength in remembering Tara and resolves to never give up.
    • ...unless you go by the alternate interpretation that says Scarlett is retreating into self-delusion. Then it's just a Downer Ending.
  • Black Sheep: Rhett's prominent, wealthy (before the war) family managed to blacklist him not only from their own estate, but the entire city of Charleston.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Stuart Tarleton is annoyed that Cade Calvert's Yankee stepmother is afraid of him and thinks Southerners are barbarians. Brent points out that this is because Stuart shot her stepson in the leg. Stuart brushes this off as him being 'lickered up' at the time. And after all, nobody else — including Cade himself — minded.
  • Book Dumb: Scarlett, in everything but math. The fact that she is actually sharp and brilliant when it comes to business and finance makes some very uncomfortable implications about what her upbringing as a belle has done to her mind in general. She is so Book Dumb that she is actively stupid in areas that should be common knowledge to her (considering her class, era and gender).
    • Also, Mammy, although she is very wise and has enough street smarts to easily make up for what she doesn't know from books.
  • Boom, Headshot!: What Scarlett does to the Union deserter.
  • Bowdlerise: With one famous exception, all the curse words from the book are eliminated from the movie, Rhett says "accident" instead of "miscarriage", the Ku Klux Klan is eliminated, Scarlett's Attempted Rape is downplayed, etc.
  • Break the Haughty: Scarlett, and the whole South.
  • Bumbling Dad: Gerald O'Hara who, unbeknownst to him, is the least respected person on his entire plantation. At least he managed to acquire his plantation and build it up.
    • Respected he might not be, but he's well-liked by his neighbors and loved by his family (and even several of his slaves; his valet, Pork, is heartbroken when he dies).
  • Cain and Abel: Scarlett and Suellen O'Hara, respectively. Averted with their sister Careen, however.
    • Although both were as equally nasty and bitchy as each other.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Rhett does confess his feelings to Scarlett a few times, but he invariably subverts his confessions by chickening out and convincing her he's making fun of her. He justifies this by saying that if she knew about his feelings, she'd make his life a living hell; but it becomes more and more obvious as the story progresses that she's already done that. Not to mention that Rhett outright lies, once or twice, when Scarlett asks him point-blank if he's in love with her. Once, when Scarlett reveals that she's been considering an abortion, Rhett reacts in outrage and horror, and then when the amazed Scarlett tells him she didn't know he cared that much about her, he switches gears and casually replies that he just doesn't want to lose a good investment.
    • Leading to the sad irony that Scarlett falls victim to this herself. By the time she begins to realize that she cares about Rhett, she's just as reluctant to tell him for the very reasons that he couldn't tell her—she's afraid he will mock and reject her.
    • Scarlett would have given up on Ashley if he had just told her he truly loves Melanie.
    • Scarlett never getting a chance to explain to Rhett that the embrace she and Ashley were caught in was completely innocent.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': The one time Scarlett connects to Ashley on a real emotional level without any thought of seducing him, she is caught in the act by Moral Guardians. Very frustrating given all the actually immoral things she's done and gotten away with—even she practically lampshades this by saying that she would have gladly welcomed everyone's contempt had they been doing something wrong, knowing that she would have deserved it.
  • Cartwright Curse: At least for Scarlett's first couple husbands.
  • Cassandra Truth: Rhett tells everyone that secession is a really stupid idea that will lead to disaster. Charles Hamilton nearly brawls with him over it.
    • In the same scene there are two other men who rejected war with both have War Is Hell as their reasoning. Ashley argues from moral standpoints and an elderly who are veteran of Mexican-American War argues from bad condition received from combatants. Both Rhett and the elderly may also overlap with Ignored Expert.
    • He also warns Scarlett against associating with the Yankee newcomers and strongly advises her to join him in regaining respectability in the community lest Bonnie be ostracized the way Wade and Ella are. She laughs it off, but sure enough, in a few years, the Yankees have fallen from power, Rhett has become one of the town's most respected citizens, while she's alienated everyone.
    • Gerald, Rhett, and even Ashley himself (when she declares her love for him) all separately warn Scarlett that she and Ashley are too different and would be miserable together. She of course refuses to believe this, even as she spends most of the book bewildered by the things he says and does. Indeed, at the end, she finally realizes that "had she ever understood Ashley, she would never have loved him."
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Rhett, during the prelude to Sherman's March on Atlanta.
    (Exploding shell!) "There's another of General Sherman's calling cards. He'll be paying us a visit soon."
  • Character Development:
    • Scarlett belatedly realizes that she and Melanie have become Fire-Forged Friends and that she doesn't really love Ashley when it's too late to do anything about it. She also matures from an ignorant, vapid Southern Belle to the 1800s version of a Corrupt Corporate Executive to keep the family land and her family well-fed.
    • Rhett realizes in turn that Wanting Is Better Than Having in terms of his relationship with Scarlett, and knows that his own role in Poor Communication Kills ruins their relationship.
  • Character Witness: Despite India and Archie witnessing Ashley embracing Scarlett with their own eyes, Melanie's vouching for Scarlett's innocence sows the seeds to doubt in many peoples' minds. Half the town winds up thinking India is a jealous, crazy old maid. A justified case since the hug really was innocent and Melanie points out that if Scarlett had wanted her gone then the latter wouldn't taken care of the former when Beau was born.
  • Charity Ball: Scarlett O'Hara scandalously insists on going to one for the Southern cause, despite having recently been widowed and therefore expected to be in mourning, mostly because she's bored and refuses to pass up the chance for a party. This is where she reconnects with Rhett Butler.
  • The Charmer: When Rhett wants people to like him, he's all but irresistible; but usually he can't be bothered.
    • Scarlett, too applies, she can make herself irresistible, usually to men with charms.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The handgun Rhett leaves with Scarlett becomes life-saving later when she uses it to shoot a deserted Yankee who imposed on her.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Unlucky Scarlett in regards to Ashley, although Victorious Melanie likely knew him just as long.
  • Christianity Is Catholic: The O'Haras are. Which makes sense, as Gerald is Irish and Ellen is French. They seem to be the only ones, however—when Rhett resumes attending church in order to regain respectability in the community, it's the Episcopalian one he goes to.
  • City Mouse: Scarlett, despite growing up at Tara, becomes a city mouse when she's forced to actually take care of Tara, doing tasks such as cooking, milking cows, and picking cotton. Suellen, Carreen, and Melanie all qualify as well. Even Mammy, Pork, Dilcey, and Prissy, who are literally slaves of the estate, are helpless when they must attempt manual labor, since their experience is limited to house and social work.
  • Colour Coded Eyes: Scarlett's green eyes are very relevant to her personality, as she always wants more money and has a jealous personality.
  • Color Motif: Scarlett's eyes are stated as being green. Green is associated with jealousy and envy. Scarlett is jealous of Melanie's marriage with Ashley.
  • Comforting the Widow: Rhett makes moves at Scarlett while she is still in mourning both after her first and second husband died.
  • Comically Missing the Point
    Dr. Meade: (to Scarlett) You have to stay here and help Melly have her baby.
    Aunt Pitty: Without a chaperone? That would be most improper.
    Dr. Meade: Good heavens, woman, this is war, not a garden party!
    • Dr. Meade's own wife does this later. The men claim they went to a brothel as a cover story to the Yankees. The second the Yankees leave, it's immediately obvious that Ashley is injured and the men are lucky to have their lives. Obvious to everyone but Mrs. Meade, who starts asking what the place is like. Dr. Meade looks at her like she's nuts before ignoring her and getting back to work.
      • This is played differently in the book where Mrs. Meade is fully aware and grateful that the ruse saved the men's life. She is also curious, however, about what a brothel is like and comically shocks Dr, Meade who has assumed that nice women didn't think of such things.
    • In the book, after Rhett and Scarlett are married, Scarlett wants to rename Frank Kennedy's general store to something more fitting. Rhett, being the cultured gentleman he is, suggests "Caveat Emptorium", a clever pun on the Latin phrase for "buyer beware". Naturally, the pun is completely lost on Scarlett, who, after learning from Ashley the meaning of the Latin phrase, proceeds to name the store "Buyer Beware", not necessarily the most appropriate name for a store.
  • Convenient Miscarriage: Scarlett takes a fall down a flight of stairs after trying to punch Rhett for joking about it, and Melanie has a miscarriage which eventually leads to her death.
  • Corrupt Hick: The no-good "rabbity" Slattery clan that lives on a few acres of swampy land. They are looked down on even by the slaves who call them "white trash." Ellen O'Hara dies of typhoid after taking care of the oldest daughter, Emmie's, illegimate baby (sired by a Yankee overseer, no less). Even worse, Emmie later has the nerve to marry her Yankee lover and tries to buy Tara.
  • Cultured Warrior: Ashley is the leader of his troop due to his excellent marksmanship and leadership skills, but most of his men find his habit of reading literature and discussing philosophy very strange.
  • Curtain Clothing: One of the most famous cases.
  • Cute Kitten: What Bonnie brought back home from London.
  • Daddy's Girl: Bonnie and Rhett, as well as Gerald and Scarlett.
  • Damsel in Distress: Played straight and subverted. Scarlett depends on Rhett to rescue her from Atlanta, but when he abandons her outside the city to join the Confederate army she takes charge.
    • Scarlett also feigns to be this both to manipulate male customers into patronizing her sawmill as well as to try to get some sort of response from Ashley.
  • Dances and Balls
  • The Dandy: Pittypat claims that Rhett is one in the book. There are the Fontaine boys prior to the war, as well.
  • Dangerous Deserter: Scarlett kills one and Melanie helps hide the body.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
  • Death of a Child: Not only does Scarlett miscarry, her daughter Bonnie is killed in a riding accident. These two incidents put the nail in the coffin of Scarlett and Rhett's marriage.
  • Deconstruction: In the book, southern belles are more or less trained not to care about people, and merely become pretty dolls devoid of personal wishes or emotion that are supposed to attract husbands. Scarlett is. For all its implications.
    • The Wind Done Gone and Scarlett both take this deconstruction even further in their own ways, showing up not only the dysfunctional and damaging aspects of Scarlett's own upbringing, but the crippling aspect the belle psychology has had on her own mind, twisting her into a nigh-sociopath.
  • Deep South
  • Defiled Forever: May be seen as the case for Cathleen Calvert in the book. While technically she submits to the marriage of her on volition, it's shown she resents it greatly; and it destroys her, making her nothing but a piece of sad white trash.
    • Also to the unnamed girl whose reputation Rhett ruined by refusing to marry her after being out after dark. Even though she didn't have a baby, which would imply that they didn't have sex.
  • Demoted to Extra: Several cases in the movie, as a result of Adaptation Distillation. Justified in that the book was a Door Stopper and the movie was massive enough as is.
    • Scarlett's sisters, while existent, are largely glossed over, particularly Carreen.
  • Destructive Romance: Rhett and Scarlett. In Scarlett this trope is deconstructed and played with continuously. The conclusion is basically that the most destructive force on earth to these two very strong and determined people is their love for each other. And then it becomes quite literally a fact of 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger' by the end.
  • Determinator: Scarlett and more subtly, Melanie. Scarlett, though, gets props for being so ridiculously determined to survive and keep her family alive that she debases her own class and values, lies, cheats, steals, farms by literally pulling the plow herself, and does everything the men of the time were having trouble doing and things that women were never supposed to do. The true tragedy of the series - whatever book or film you look at - is that her amazing intellect is permanently twisted and stunted by her upbringing as an idiotic Southern belle.
    • Subverted with Gerald, who was very much one in his younger years, but Ellen's death breaks him.
  • Determined Homesteader: Scarlett O'Hara. Her father tells her, "Land's the only thing that matters. It's the only thing that lasts!" And everything she does is ultimately to protect Tara, particularly in the book in which we are frequently reminded that she and Melanie actually own the house in Atlanta jointly and could abandon Tara to move there at any time.
  • Determined Widow: Scarlett, again. Somewhat different than the usual case in that she is the hero, and purposely using the inherent sympathy of her situation to manipulate others.
  • Deus Angst Machina / Trauma Conga Line: When finally, after walking for days and while starving, Scarlett has finally reach her home, there's a lovely surprise for her. Her mommy is dead. Daddy's gone mad with grief. Her sisters are sick with typhoid. The slaves have fled except the ones loyal to the family, who are very few and also house slaves; generally not good for helping in the fields. The house was completely pillaged by the Yankees and now must provide for a large family with two children and three sick women, with the mentally unstable father as the only man of the house. In addition, she must cultivate an entire plantation with only three black slaves because it's her only source of income, while before they had hundreds of these.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Scarlett is so eager to get Ashley as a husband - and then marry Charles to save face - she doesn't stop to consider that, as a married woman, she won't get the chance to do any of the things she could as a desirable unmarried girl. (The narration flat out states this is a flaw of her 'Southern Belle' upbringing.) The result is that she ends up freaking out on her wedding night because it never occurred to her that she'd be sharing a bed with Charles, saddled with a child she doesn't want and wasn't ready for, and sitting on the side lines at the biggest ball Atlanta's ever held in her widow's weeds, unable to participate and looking on in envy at all the styles and colours she'll never get to wear again, even after she comes out of mourning.
    • Scarlett has many moments like this throughout the book. In particular, when she tells Rhett that she doesn't want anymore children, effectively putting an end to their sex life. Only after Rhett's nonchalant, taunting reaction (he basically shrugs and declares that he'll simply seek sexual pleasure elsewhere) does it dawn on her what she's done and everything that she'll miss out on—late night conversations, Rhett comforting her after a nightmare.
  • The Ditz: Aunt Pittypat.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Scarlett's demeanor after Wade is born would easily be recognized as post-partum depression today. Given that such a thing was unheard of in those times, everyone assumes she's grieving for Charles.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Scarlett cannot stand being pitied. Mostly because whenever she has felt pity for someone, it's usually gone hand-in-hand with contempt and she's incensed at the notion that anyone might feel that way about her. When Rhett tells her that this is the only feeling that he has left for her, that's the moment she knows their marriage is over.
  • Door Stopper: The book is around 1000 pages, The film is over 3½ hours long (and it leaves out a lot of things).
  • Drama Queen: Aunt Pittypat will faint over any improper or scandalous thing. It becomes obvious that it's all an act, or her just simply living up to the expectations of a Southern belle when despite her grief, she's able to remain perfectly calm and collected during Melanie's illness and death.
  • Dress Hits Floor: A non-sexual example. After Scarlett kills a Union soldier who broke into their house to rape and steal, she and Melanie drag his body out to hide it before the rest of the family finds out, but they need to mop up the blood. Scarlett insists Melanie give up her nightgown to mop with, so she's forced to strip naked right then and there.
  • Drowning My Sorrows:
    • Rhett, right after a misunderstanding has led the entire town to believe that Ashley and Scarlett are having an affair, gets really, really drunk.
    • He drinks when he believes Scarlett is about to die from a miscarriage that he is responsible for, since he not only raped her while drunk but also joked that if she didn't want the baby then to cheer up in case she miscarries.
    • In the book he gets drunk after Bonnie's death.
    • Scarlett actually uses this term in Scarlett when she becomes an alcoholic while trying to pretend to herself that Rhett will come back to Atlanta for her.
  • Drunken Song:
    • When Gerald is drunk, he sings a song called "Peg in a Low-Backed Car". Ashley and Rhett pretend to be singing drunkenly to fool the Yankee soldiers into thinking they were out getting wasted instead of avenging the attack on Scarlett, for which they could be imprisoned or even hanged.
    • During their New Orleans honeymoon, Scarlett drinks too much champagne at dinner and the next morning, has only a vague memory of drunkenly singing "Bonnie Blue Flag" in the carriage on the way back to the hotel, much to Rhett's amusement.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Invoked by Scarlett and Rhett when Scarlett reveals she's pregnant with their second child, a Child by Rape. Rhett jokes, "Cheer up maybe you'll have a miscarriage" after he establishes that he doesn't love Scarlett. When she justifiably attempts to punch him, she misses, falls down the stairs and miscarries for real. In the book while she recuperates, Rhett goes into Drowning My Sorrows as a result.


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