Follow TV Tropes


WMG / Gone with the Wind

Go To

Did Melanie secretly know about Ashley's emotional affair with Scarlett?
Deep down, Melanie knew; but it's part of the reason she was so protective toward Scarlett, viewing her as a surrogate sister and surrogate wife for Ashley.

This has got to be true, because she appears to be a Horrible Judge of Character for Scarlett and only Scarlett. Even for someone who carries Incorruptible Pure Pureness, that is ridiculous; this is more plausible. (Hey, it's not like that emotional affair went very deep...)

  • Perhaps she knew but she also knew all along what Scarlett and Ashley only discovered when she was dying... That they never really did love each other, they just fulfilled a dream in one another while Scarlett's real love was Rhett and Ashley really loved Melanie all along.

  • In the book, Scarlett was not only her only brother's widow, but the mother of his son Wade. Moreover, there's the fact that Scarlett saves Melanie's life twice (when she gives birth, and when the union deserter attacks). That's likely a good part of the reason that Melanie won't hear any evil of Scarlett.

Scarlett has Histrionic Personality Disorder.
People on the Internet like to diagnose her with this, so I thought I'd throw it in here. If so, she is probably a Theatrical Histrionic, who are "especially dramatic, romantic, and attention seeking".

Scarlett has sociopathic tendencies.
She's probably not a full-blown sociopath, but she's a lot farther in that direction than a healthy person. She demonstrates zero real grasp of morality, has no qualms about lying, cheating, etc., to get her way, and it takes her until age 28 to grasp the concept that other human beings matter. Even her own children are mere annoyances to her, and she's furious when Ashley refuses to abandon his ailing wife and their baby to run off with her. In this incident, she never even considers how her sick sisters or mentally disabled father (Gerald is anywhere from senile to psychotic by this point as a result of Ellen's death) or the slaves who have no knowledge of how to fend for themselves would survive if she did abandon them in pursuit of her self-centered wants. She just does not care how much pain and damage she causes in the course of getting what she wants.
  • This makes so much sense it's horrifying.
  • In the 1941 book The Mask of Sanity, psychiatrist Hervey Cleckley presented Scarlett as a fictional example of a "partial psychopath". He said in part:
    Scarlett O'Hara, in my opinion, is a very convincing figure and really shows some of the emotional impoverishment described here in the patients presented as partial psychopaths. Her incapacity for a true commitment in love is apparently unmodifiable; her egocentricity is basic. She seems to be without means of understanding the strong emotions in those about her or of having adequate awareness of what makes them act when they act in accordance with principles they value. Unlike the complete psychopath, she successfully pursues ends that lead to her material well-being and she avoids putting herself in positions of obvious folly and shame. In her, however, we sense an inward hollowness and a serious lack of insight.

  • Scarlett O'Hara was not a sociopath or psychopath or even close to it. She asked Ashley to run away with her ONCE. At that point she had spent months in grueling physical labor all day every day, hungry all the time, frightened of more leftover Yankees all the time, worried about being found out for having shot the Yankee deserter who had come in to rape and rob her, trying to figure out how to run the household which had changed considerably from the kind of household she had been raised to run, looking after her sick sisters and sister-in-law and senile father (the ones she was sooo indifferent to), grieving for her dead mother. Then she found out that the Yankees, in an effort to pay for their invasion and occupation of her country, were set on taxing her country into submission, and that she was going to lose what she had left, the plantation which supported all these people we're supposed to believe she didn't care about. She went to Ashley to ask for his advice and he had no hope to offer her. It looked as if her sole means of supporting all these people she was allegedly indifferent to was going to be snatched from her. At a moment like this, anyone would entertain fantasies of escape.
    • In the midst of this, the chemistry between her and Ashley struck and she got a kiss from the man she'd been yearning for since she was fourteen. (By my calculations, she must have been twenty or twenty-one at this point.) Intoxicated by the moment, she asks him to run away with her, since it seems there is nothing they can do if they stay. Ashley comes to his senses first and reminds her of the people who depend upon them. After another minute of talking, her despair-and-arousal-induced madness subsides and she stops trying to persuade him.
Ashley says that he and his wife and child had better leave Tara so he and Scarlett won't be tempted again. She is so, ah, "furious" that she gathers herself, tells him with dignity that she won't have them starving because she threw herself at his head and gives him her word that it won't happen again. And it doesn't. She then makes the sacrifice of marrying a man she doesn't love in order to keep a roof over the heads of her family, including Ashley and his wife and child. It took the threat of imminent homelessness and starvation for all of them to make her go to this length. Months earlier, on the day the Yankees reached Atlanta, Melanie was giving birth. Scarlett, with only the help of a nervous and uncertain slave, spent hours delivering the baby herself, and then there was the arduous ride back to Tara through occupied, panicked country. All she had to do was go home and Ashley would have been all hers. Almost everyone had left Atlanta already, there would have been no witnesses had she just walked out and left Melanie there in labor. When Ashley got home she could've been all, ohhh, poor Melanie died in childbirth, or, the Yankees got her, too bad, so sad. She could even have killed Melanie during her postpartum illness easily, by slipping her poison or something, no one would have suspected anything, and then she would even have been able to offer herself as a replacement mother for Ashley's child. As for "no qualms", she had tons of qualms. Those qualms were the whole reason for her famous mantra "I'll think about that tomorrow", which was all that made it possible for her to do the things that kept her family fed.

  • Scarlett may not be a full-blown sociopath, but she certainly has tendencies. She does care very much for Tara, but she is more than willing to marry her own sister's fiancee from right under her nose, all to keep Tara with the rationalization that Suellen doesn't deserve the life Frank would provide for her. While Scarlett provides for Wade and Ella, she essentially sees them as annoyances and does little to nothing with them. The reason this troper says she has tendencies is that Scarlett is fiercely loyal, and Melanie shows the best of these tendencies, but Scarlett, without question has a sociopathic side to her.
    • It wasn't that she thought Suellen didn't deserve to have a nice life. Scarlett knew Suellen was so selfish that she wouldn't give a single cent to support the rest of the family, so she (Scarlett) married Frank herself so that she could use his money to keep the family at Tara alive.
  • It actually sounds like Scarlett has Moral Myopia.
When Rhett was insane with grief, Melanie was able to calm him down by sleeping with him, and that was how she became pregnant the last time.
  • Rhett/Melanie is my Crack Ship so I approve of this theory. It wouldn't actually surprise me if Melanie felt a secret sexual attraction to Rhett (that she would never admit too). Ashley is probably boring in bed anyway.
  • Particularly in the book, you can't exactly say this isn't implied. The reader is left with Mammy outside the bedroom, in a way very similar to when Ashley and Melanie went into their room when he was on Christmas furlough in the war, Beau resulting. It's also stated many times that Melanie and Ashley are using abstinence as their pregnancy prevention strategy, and Rhett comments as she is dying that he knew about her pregnancy from the beginning.

Rhett is part black.
The book often refers to Rhett's dark looks and brown face. He has the "dark sexuality" that is associated with black men in the book. He doesn't fit in with white southern society. He says that his father has always hated him. He's one of the more racially tolerant characters most of the time but he kills a black man for coming on to a white woman. Maybe that's because it reminds him of his conception (consenual or not) that made him an outcast.

The entire story is in another alternate historical Reality/Universe/Timeline
This troper has a personal theory: since countless literary and cinematic critics and also the Novel's writer herself had many times stated that Gone with the Wind is a "Romanticized" version of the Southern United States of the early 1800's (or Old South as it was commonly known) which both the The Novel and Movie narrates the stories backdrop and characters as epic European nobility. Even the stories most virulent critics call the story a "White washing" of history and a grossly inaccurate depiction of the Pre-American Civil War era especially towards its African-American characters.

In Fairness most other more historically accurate films of the same era (Roots, and its sequels, Queen, Amistad..the list goes on) are all Docu Dramas based solely on real people and events while Gone with the Wind is completely fictional and not based (except for a few events in the book) on anything in Real Life. This makes it a possibility that Gone with the Wind (and its decades later sequel Scarlett) take place within a separate Timeline or parallel universe from our own where the events and its central motivations of the abolishment of Slavery for the Civil War and its eras harsh and brutal treatment of African descendants in America either didn't exist or just wasn't nearly as harsh.

As to reason why there would still be black slaves/servants in this alternate USA is simple. Shortly after the abolishment of slavery in Europe in the mid 1700s many African freemen had either no where to go or still may had severe debts with their former masters so many former slaves still had to serve them in the system of indentured servitude (which still had existed for lower class whites as well). So many of the stories black house and field servants either traveled along with them from Europe or were the descendants of Africans who had willingly traveled to America (vaguely similar to Mexican immigrants of the current era) to find better lives for themselves and had ended up in this indentured status. Another possibility is that the brutal industrial-scale latifundia system of slavery, from which plantation slavery was largely derived, never really developed, and that slavery in the GWTW universe remained much closer to the classical Graeco-Roman model (which provided much greater latitude for the development of quasi-familial relationships and for manumission, which is frequently mentioned in the books).

Note that, in one incident, Scarlett is enraged when several Northern women she is insulted to make insulting remarks about "Uncle Peter", a longtime household slave of her relative-by-marriage Aunt Pittypat, within his hearing. When Aunt Pittypat hears of the insults, she is equally outraged and excuses Peter immediately from ever having to expose himself to such slights again. The whole displays a delicacy of concern for the feelings of supposed social inferiors that is quite at variance with the callousness of our own timeline, and is another data point in support of the proposition that GWTW occurs in an Alternate Universe.

However this also doesnt explain why the elite Old South Families never had poorer "white trash" slaves as well. (Then again, maybe they did and we just didn't see them.) One also must account for the fact that in the GWTW timeline, "poor whites" seem to be held in far greater contempt than blacks. The overall attitude of whites toward blacks, particuarly among the well-to-do, is one of kindly paternalism, and whites of Scarlett's class are often heard praising blacks for various attributes or actions. They NEVER appear to speak well of "white trash". Slaves - certainly "house" slaves or slaves with a particular trade or skill - do appear to rank distinctly higher in the social scale than poor whites.

Oddly enough it also appears that Native Americans dont seem to exist (were they all killed off? (although technically that would be worse then what is/was being done to the stories African-Americans) was this version/realities America just empty? with only animals for a native population?) their never mentioned or even referred to as if they simply don't exist. (although many of the works of Mark Twain taking place in the South in the same era frequently have or mentions American Indian characters).

  • Perhaps there is Real Life revisionist history at play, with the truth about the era falling somewhere between the extremes of Gone With the Wind and Uncle Tom's Cabin.

  • Trail of Tears, duh!!! And Twain's stories took place much farther west.

  • In the book, Dilcey was a Native American, and it was mentioned that Confederate captives had the option to fight the Native Americans instead of going to prison (when Scarlett and Melanie were talking about Ashley being held in Rock Island).

Actually, in the book it is mentioned that Scarlett's grandmother lived in a 'wilder time' and the Robillards were subject to Creek Indian attacks.

  • That would have been the 1820's-1840's, before the "Wild Frontier" was pushed beyond the Mississippi. (As were entirely too many of the Native Americans, see Trail of Tears above.)

Rhett and Belle Watling had a son together
In the book, it is mentioned that Rhett sends financial support to a boy who is far away in boarding school or something, but it is never confirmed that the boy is related to him. I think that Scarlett somehow finds out about it, but Rhett tells her that it is none of her business and it never comes up again. When Melanie and Belle are talking to each other in the carriage, Belle mentions that she has a child of her own, a son if I remember correctly. Rhett and Belle have a history together— the money that Belle gives to Melanie is even wrapped in a handkerchief with Rhett's initials on it. Rhett watched a girl die having an abortion. I think Rhett and Belle conceived a child in their youth, and Rhett wouldn't let her have an abortion. As soon as the child was old enough, they shipped him off to boarding schools and he may even have been placed with members of Rhett's family to keep him out of the bordellos, bars et al. I haven't read any of the "sequels," but it would be interesting if one day Rhett's son came around Tara asking if Scarlett knew where his father was.

Scarlett's mother carried an X-linked disorder

It is mentioned several times in the book that Gerald and Ellen O'Hara had three sons, each of whom died "before he had learned to walk", in addition to the three daughters. Of course, the death of infants was much more common back then, but it does seem strange that all of the sons died, while all of the daughters lived. It could be explained if Ellen carried a disorder on her X chromosome, one that results in an early death, which she then passed on to some or all of her children. With each child, there is a 50% chance of receiving the affected gene. In the girls, as with Ellen, it would not be expressed, as they would have had two X chromosomes to "cover" for it - in the boys (who unfortunately all inherited it), it caused them to die young. With the third generation, Carreen did not have children; Suellen did, but we don't know much about them; and Scarlett had one son who seemed healthy, so either she didn't inherit the bad gene, or she did and never passed it on to Wade. As we don't know much about the deaths of Scarlett's brothers, any number of fatal X-linked conditions could have been responsible, especially since diagnosis or medical treatment would not have been possible in that era. One such disorder is X-linked Severe Combined Immunodeficiency, which leaves a child highly susceptible to infection and often causes death within the first few years of life.

Ashley picked up an accent while being schooled in England

The man very clearly has a prominent, clipped English accent (especially in the second half of the film) that isn't shared by any other member of his family, or any other character for that matter. IRL it's because Leslie Howard simply couldn't be bothered to do a Southern accent, but in the film it sticks out like a sore thumb and goes unexplained. I think it's entirely possible and probable that the character, in his younger years, was educated overseas in England and picked up the accent there. He's from an incredibly wealthy family that could certainly afford to pay for overseas schooling if they thought it was a worthwhile investment.

<<|Wild Mass Guessing|>>

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: