1.1. Introductory Paragraph
Gone with the Wind is a novel about the civil war by Margaret Mitchell. It tells the story of the protagonist during Scarlett’s twelve years of experience from the American Civil War to the post-war reconstruction. Scarlett is a woman of ambivalence. On the one hand, she is rebellious and capricious, greedy and vain; On the other hand, she is strong, determined and persistent in love. This character has manifested the American bourgeoisie which is a kind of indomitable spirit, a spirit of daring to be a pioneer that is enterprising as an American. She is a heroine who is good at building her new life on the ruins of the old world! This is the manifestation of Scarlett’s feminist thought.
In Gone with the Wind, the author depicts the diverse character characteristics of Scarlett in different life stages and social backgrounds, revealing the indomitable spirit of women in the face of difficulties and their intimate relationship with the environment. This paper attempts to analyze the complex character of Scarlett Hao in the novel from the perspective of feminism, reveal the cause of Scarlett Hao’s character in the patriarchal society, and analyze the author’s feminist consciousness.
1.2. Literature Review
After published, Gone with the Wind usually caused a lot of controversies. There are a lot of people studying and analyzing how Scarlett completes her transformation from 16 years old girl deeply influenced by traditional Southern Womanhood to a serious-minded and far-sighted woman. And many researchers comparatively analyze Scarlett with Melanie: they are quite different girls, and those differences make their life very different; anyway, attitude is everything. Gone with the Wind is the name of the novel, and Melanie is the wind; she is traditional, graceful and tolerant. The old South has gone with the wind, and so Melanie. Scarlett was not, she is new, and she is decisive and firm. She is quite an opponent of the old South. New American comes, and so Scarlett.
Some researchers comparatively analyze Scarlett with other women except Melanie, such as other tough ladies: Wang Xifeng (from A Dream in Red Mansions), Yao Mulan (from Moment in Peking), and so on. It is not rare to meet some difficulties in your lifetime. If you can overcome them, you are a hero, a strong man. Love and hate intertwined nerd around, while good and evil battled again and again in the ultimate return of human nature into self-transcendence. Margaret Mitchell is a woman writer. She has strong feminism. We can get it from the novel, especially from Scarlett. Bravery is a great wisdom in one's life. Facing death bravely and going towards death, bravery finally completes the pursuit of the value of death in literary creation and finally surpasses death. Some researchers comparatively analyze Scarlett with other tragic female characters, for example, Emily (from A Rose for Emily), Wang Jiazhi (from Lust, Caution) and so on. Hardness in life is the examination on people’s adaptability to life and it is also the gauge distinguishing the strong and the weak. The weak try hard to avoid pain and conflict. They would rather go without than have a hard time in bettering themselves.
The characters in these works were more authentic and their characters had both merits and shortcomings. The man who can centre his thoughts and hopes upon something transcending self can find a certain peace in the ordinary troubles of life which is impossible to the weak.
Life is always ongoing, and those souls that have lost all sense of their true selves, will eventually find their way back home to the Light.
Gone with the Wind was considered as a very classic work. But many opponents do not agree with that. In their eyes the novel will never have the chance to enter the scared palace of American literature and Scarlett the protagonist in the novel is an extremely selfish, vain, and merciless woman who will not hesitate to resort to any means in order to reach her ends.
1.3. The Significance of the Research
The protagonist Scarlett in Gone with the Wind is extremely distinct meaning of characters in the world literature. She is a true reflection of the American spirit and its culture: the spirit of freedom, strong character and realistic attitude, the spirit of tenacious struggle and courage to face reality and to the pursuit of love is its enduring.
This article will focus on analyzing awakened Scarlett’s survival wisdom by combining civil war novel and the historical background of southern culture change, and with the help of Scarlett and the rest of the novel’s main character, so as to show its unique personality charm. Through analyzing Scarlett’s character, this paper puts forward the contemporary women can learn from her and take reference from Scarlett’s career learning innovation ability and self-confidence.
Although many people have explored Scarlett from the perspective of feminism, but as time passed, the novel spread more and more widely, sweeps the world and has aroused interest of a large number of fascinated viewers. And the readers more and more favored the heroine Scarlett, so this issue still deserves to be further discussed.
The research of the Character of Scarlett in Gone with the Wind is very important to impel modern woman to develop from “me” to “I”. In our life, we will meet lots of difficulties, but I’m sure if we never say die, we will be the winners. Modern woman should become a powerful life on the road; let yourselves and everything around it better, more beautiful and more meaningful.
1.4. Organization of This Paper
There are five chapters in this thesis and the main content as follows: The first one is preface, which introduces some background and motive of this research as well as summarization of relative literatures and framework of this paper. The second chapter gives an introduction to the social and historical background of the society Gone with the Wind. The third chapter mainly introduces Scarlett’s special characters and styles. Scarlett’s secret of survival is introduced in Chapter Four. The fifth chapter is the summary and thought of this thesis.
No matter what pain and misfortune he suffers from, a real strong character will never sink and drown in the rapids of life. We want to live stronger, and we want to live Not to be outdone in this arena, who strive to create a good stage for their own efforts to decorate their own lives and life. Life shouldn’t be dependent on tears; it only cheers those who press forward in the face of difficulties.
2. Feminism in Gone with the Wind
This chapter is separated into two parts, namely, female characters and feminism, initiates a close-reading of the stylistic features of this novel, and analyzes feminism in the book in different aspects, such as the true feminism, the new feminism, and the self-estimate. Also, it looks into the form and the cause of feminism from the angles of the feminine thought, the feminine mind, the feminine language and the feminine image.
It is the hope of the author to bring some new light to the understanding and cognition of this great work.
2.1. Pursuit of Women
Let us review the novel, because the whole novel is just like the process of Scarlett’s change of mind, and the men and the things which she has met and experienced are largely transformed into her psychological behavior.
This classic novel tells us a woman who named Scarlett who is a strong woman. She can bear anything romantic. Scarlett falls in love with Ashley since “that day two years ago when Ashley, newly home from his three years Grand Tour in Europe, and called to pay his respects, she had loved him.”  Scarlett loved him since she was 16-year-old and no matter how hard her love is for him, she always insists on it. She wants him though he is her sister-in-law’s husband; she has never let him go. She hopes Melanie, her sister-in-law, will die when she has childbirth during the war, so that she can get Ashley. But when Melanie had a miscarriage and was dying. She suddenly finds how deep her love is to Melanie. She feels so sorry that she has done something wrong to Melanie, to Ashley and also to her husband Rhett. She always thinks Ashley and money consist of everything in her life. Making money is her obligation. If she has enough money, she will be far away from starvation and cold, and show off her money to all the people she hates and show contempt to them.
Scarlett is a brilliant image with feminist color that Michel Margaret creates in Gone with the Wind. She dares to go against the tradition and the treatment of females as inferior to males, and she dares to go out of the family and enter into the patriarchal world in order to obtain the female’s independence in economy and personality. Meanwhile Scarlett is also indecisive and perplexed in her love life. The meaning of her struggling for herself can’t be ignored.
Scarlett has married three times. The first time is to marry Charles who is Melanie’s brother. The second is to marry Frank who is her sister Suellen’s husband. The third is to marry Rhett. It is wrong of her either to marry Charles or to marry Frank. The first is for grudge, the second is for money, but Rhett is just her Mr. Right. But she does not know that, “Wife is the last one to know”.
One thing Scarlett has done wrong is that she has understood none of the men she has loved and so she has lost them all. If she understood Ashley, she would not love him so long, and if she understood Rhett, she would never lose him.
Not until Melanie is dead does, Scarlett realizes that she doesn’t love Ashley, she says “I loved something I made up, something that’s just as dead as Melanie is. I made a pretty suit of clothes and fell in love with it. And when Ashley came riding along, so handsome, so different. I put that suit on him and make him wear it, whether it fitted him or not. And I wouldn’t see what he really was, I kept on loving pretty clothes and not him at all”. He’s never existed at all, except in my imagination.”
For Ashley, he is someone that denies her, “Even now, she could recall each detail of his dress, how brightly his boots shone the head of a Medusa in cameo on his cravat pin, the wide Panama hat that was instantly in his hand when he saw her.”  Scarlett is just a woman he doesn’t really love, but wants to get a woman’s body, let alone her heart. But for Rhett, he wants Scarlett’s mind and heart more than any other things. He loves her not just for her body because he know how little bodies mean, so he cares little about for body, but about her heart, but he has never got it before his heart breaks into pieces. When his sweet daughter Bonnie is dead, everything is lost; Bonnie has taken everything from him. Rhett’s tragedy is that he loves Scarlett too much to let her go, but Scarlett realizes that too late.
When Scarlett is aware of her love to Rhett, everything is too late. She hurts Rhett’s heart so deeply that he can’t take his broad bosom to her, and he can’t be hurt any longer, any more. She is such a stupid fool that she has lost everything at the beginning. In spite that she is strong enough, her big desire makes her lose everything, because she never know what the real love is. Desire and achievement are two different things, so she loses both Ashley and Rhett.
From my point of view, after the death of Scarlett’s first husband, the widow hasn’t been trapped in the traditional custom of widowhood, she stepped out of her former marriage and seeking her true love in a positive manner instead. It is obviously that the consciousness of feminism has sprouted in Scarlett’s mind.
Scarlett, as a representative of the women at that time, can adapt to the new situation, and the new life, reject all the old tradition, and take to the road of her own, it is the war which will prompts her to rise up and fight. And those who find it hard to accept the reality and unforgettable past are taking the way by memories. They can not adapt to the change of environment, to the tragedy of life and destiny. Except for change they have no choice.
The novel has created a glorious character, her pursuit of true love and her attempt to fight against the conventional customs. Her implicit beauty enriched her status in Gone with the Wind.
2.2. Scarlett’s Practice
Scarlett is like a cat. With the cat-like eyes, and the cat-like smile, and the cat-like pace of the agile, this cat-like woman offers some of the reality and tells how we should treat our life, love, the difficulties, and frustrations of the attitude and experience.
First she meets with the difficulty with responsibility, though there is also hesitation, finally she still assumes responsibility. For example she saves Melanie, and she revives Tara.
Also she dares to love or to regret. Her whole youth is spent in love with Ashley, without return, but she still never gives up, until the limit of the ability to do so.
The third is she is trying to correct her mistakes. When she finally understands what she has done wrong, she immediately apologizes, and asks for forgiveness.
Then, Scarlett’s action has generated the image of a woman with her strong mind to earn her living through her utmost encouragement. This show there has aroused the consciousness of feminism, that is, the independence and the autonomy of the women. In another word, women are able to work as well as men to survive in that period of tough time. After her husband has left, she works independently after her pregnancy in her second marriage. Poverty and difficulty can’t defeat her. She has dropped into the ocean of business and works independently.
Scarlett, protagonist in Gone with the Wind, is one of the most impressive images in the world literature. Her charm lies in her perverse personality of independence, her spirit of freedom, her firm characteristic and real life attitude. Her charm lies in the spirit of refusing to sink into depravity in the hard time, the persistent pursuit of love. Her charm lies in her image of being the representative of some modern spirit and being close to readers in their mentality and the feminine value which it reflects.
She is gradually strong enough to take care of her family. She has burdened herself with the heavy pressure to feed her family and spare no efforts to get money. We have noticed the growing maturity and artful behavior of Scarlett to earn a living with any possible measures.
Scarlett is a brilliant image with feminist color whom Michel Margaret creates in Gone with the Wind. She dares to go against the tradition and the treatment of the female as inferior to males, and she dares to go out of the family and enter the patriarchal world in order to obtain the female’s independence in economy and personality. Meanwhile Scarlett is also indecisive and perplexed in her love life. The meaning of her struggling for herself can’t be ignored.
You can’t help but like Scarlett. She’s hopelessly selfish, vain, manipulative, deluded and foolish, but she’s also an extremely vivacious, loyal and strong character who can be relied upon to say and do just exactly what she thinks, regardless of the impact on other people. Again and again through the novel you find yourself thinking “don’t do that” but you know she’s going to do it anyway. Rhett Butler is the perfect foil to her exuberance and willfulness, and though immensely frustrated by to Scarlett, proves to be the only man who can help her at certain points through the novel.
The book is very dramatic, though written 60 years after the events it describes. For example, racism and snobbery is blatant and frustrating to a modern reader, but this just serves to evoke the period more accurately. The strictures imposed on the life which Scarlett and her companions live in is a key feature of the novel, and the gathering rebellion against these constraints a parallel with the emancipation of the slaves.
3. Scarlett’s Special Characters and Styles
Before the Civil War, Scarlett lives in a nearly perfect family. A gentle mother, a rich father, and a black mummy look after her well, and they make her a beautiful but spoiled girl. On the other hand, she’s clever, diligent, brave and stubborn. Owing to these characters, her actions make her very welcome in gentlemen but unwelcome in ladies.
3.1. Background of Scarlett’s Family
Scarlett shows her difference at the right opening of the novel. Ellen, has never been seen “stirred from her austere placidity nor her personal appointments anything but perfect, no matter what the hour of day or night”  . “There was a steely quality under her stately gentleness that awed the whole household”  . Scarlett regards her mother as “something holy and apart from all the rest of humankind” and “the embodiment of justice, truth, loving tenderness and profound wisdom―a great lady.” Young Scarlett, or Scarlett antebellum, wants very much to emulate Ellen, but in order to avoid missing joys of life, she will follow her mother only on condition that “some day when she was married to Ashley and old, some day when she had time for it”  . Nevertheless, Ellen does influence Scarlett much.
On the other hand, Scarlett’s father, Gerald, a little, hard-headed and blustering Irish man, is not well educated, he believes that a man who wants to be rich should be strong and unafraid of work. And Gerald is hardy. “When Gerald wanted something, he gains it by taking the most direct route”  . This conclusion seemed to fit for Scarlett, too.
3.2. Antebellum Life
As for Scarlett, in her face “were too sharply blended the delicate feature of her mother, a coast aristocrat of French descent, and the heavy ones of her florid Irish father”  . At the age of sixteen, thanks to Mammy and Ellen, “she looked sweet, charming and giddy, but she was, in reality, self-willed, vain and obstinate. She had the easily stirred passions of her Irish father and nothing except the thinnest veneer of her mother’s unselfish and forbearing nature”  . She is high hearted, vivacious and charming, different from other ladies’ elegance. She is beautiful that she has made almost all the young men in the neighborhood court her; she has her own view that she always tries her best to gain what she wants―Ashley, or Tara, then Rhett. She will never know, and she would be pleased but unbelieving if she has been told, that her own personality, frighteningly vital though it was, was more attractive than any masquerade she might adopt because “the civilization of which she was a part would have been unbelieving too, for at no time, before or since, had so low a premium been placed on feminine naturalness”  . Undoubtedly, she is different, and because of this difference, Scarlett is destined to be damned―“No girl in the county, really liked Scarlett”  .
3.3. Rebellious Activities during the Civil War
After her impulse (marry Charles Hamilton to “retaliate” Ashley Wilkes’ marriage to Melanie Hamilton) Scarlett is soon widowed, to her dismay, motherhood follows. Of course Scarlett can not fell contented in her widow life, she still wants to dance, laugh and be courted as Scarlett O’Hara, not Scarlett Hamilton. And so, with the help of Rhett Butler, Scarlett begins to search for another paradise in her life. When she is still in mourning, Scarlett “tossed her head and sped out of booth”  , hurriedly steps into the dancing floor, and begins her another rebel life. She begins to think for herself instead of letting others think for her again. At that very time, she forgets herself and her rearing neglects the look on the chaperons’ faces, cares not what she will be criticized, she just wants to dance, to release her partly from mourning.
4. Scarlett’s Secret of Survival
4.1. Scarlett’s Pursuit of Freedom and Happiness
One whole year after Charles Hamilton’s death, Scarlett is partly liberated. Despite wearing mourning, she is back again where she has been before she marries Charles, as if she were Scarlett again, the belle of the county. Careless of the disapproval of others, “she behaved as she had behaved before her marriage―went to parties, danced, went riding with soldiers, flirted…”  . Life is still attractive, like she is. She enjoys her normal-like life again. She, Scarlett, energetic and animated, how can she be defined forever? Much less, the man she married has never gained her love at all! So that Scarlett, who is willing to, and destined to, pursue a passionate life. Obviously, she is different, and still is scolded for being different from the social code. However, in modern society, no one has the right of obstructing a widowed lady from pursuing happiness, especially remarriage.
Scarlett’s emotion, as the Christmas season of 1863 coming, is surged up because Ashley Wilkes will come home on furlough. When Scarlett looks at Ashley, she “knew her feeling of that long-past night were those of a spoiled child thwarted of a toy”  . But unfortunately, she still looks upon her feeling to Ashley as “love”, even more than before. According to such deep feeling, or love, at least she thinks so; Scarlett promises Ashley that she will look after Melanie for him.
4.2. Scarlett’s Wisdom and Diligence in the Reconstruction
Out of Scarlett’s expectation, the more terrible disaster occurs―Ellen, her gentle, amiable mother, has died; her father has turned to a terribly old man with schizophrenia. Now he is like a child, no longer a strong man, the backbone of Tara. Both of her sisters are ill in bed; slaves have run away, with only three darkies still remaining. There remains not enough food, and all their cotton has been burnt to ashes. Meanwhile, their lot of Confederate cash becomes worthless. The most important is that she, Scarlett Hamilton, will continue to carry her burdens.
The long road from Atlanta to Tara has ended, “in a black wall, the road that was to end in Ellen’s arms”  . Never again can Scarlett lie down, as a child, secure beneath her father’s roof with the protection of her mother’s love wrapped about her like an eiderdown quilt. “There was no security or heaven to which she could turn now”  ; there is no one on whose shoulders she can rest her burdens. Now Scarlett is seeing things with new eyes, for somewhere along the long road to Tara, she has left her girlhood behind her. She is a woman now and youth is gone. The Scarlett does not take charity. The Scarlett looks after them. Her burdens are her own and they are for shoulders strong enough to bear them. She can not desert Tara, “She belonged to the red acres far more than they could ever belong to her. Her roots went deep into the blood-colored soil and sucked up life, as did the cotton”  .
The next morning Scarlett forces her to endure body’s stiffness and sore, goes out to search for some food. In the Negroes’ garden patches of Wilkes’ plantation; she is licked down by hunger and tiredness. When she arises at last and sees again the black ruins of the plantation, her head is raised high and something that is “youth and beauty and potential tenderness” has gone out of her face forever. The lazy luxury of the old days is gone, never to return. “There was no going back and she was going forward throughout the South for fifty years there would be bitter-eyed woman who looked backward… But Scarlett was never to look back” At that moment hunger grows at her empty stomach again and Scarlett says aloud: “As god is my witness...the Yankees aren’t going to lick me. I’m going to live through this, and when it’s over I’m never going to be hunger again. No, or any of my folks. If I have to steal or kill―as God is my witness, I’m never going to be hunger again”  . This is her dauntlessness.
What an announcement of struggle! Indeed it is a day that is worthy of celebration. That symbolizes the birth of a completely new woman, a heroine in the old time. From then on, the shell of hardness, which has begun to form about her heart when she lies in the slave garden, is slowly thickening. Scarlett, who is more advanced than others, firstly realizes that her mother’s ordered world is gone and a brutal world has taken its place. “She sees, or she thinks she sees that her mother has been wrong, and she changes swiftly to meet this new world for which she is not prepared”  . This is her perceptivity.
Both of Scarlett’s two sisters and the slaves all refuse, or do not dare, to face the reality. Melanie, who can face the situation, but only endures and suffers passively, and she is not willing to, or can not, struggle against the bad luck positively and energetically. That is to say, once again, Scarlett is different and complained by everyone except Melanie―why does she become so cool, so chilly?
As for her courage and fieriness, Scarlett kills a thieving Yankees soldier, imperturbably and determinately―right before the Yankee’s shoot. Such an act is mass criticized by the critics; they accuse her of brutality and murderer. They condemn her living by hook or by crook, not like a fair lady, but actually she only “does what under the circumstances must be done if she survives”  . In modern society, that is called “legitimate defense,” is therefore guiltless. Anyway, Scarlett saves other three sick girls and the babies. That is worthwhile. Even if Melanie were in the same situation, “she’d have done the same thing”  .
With Scarlett’s wisdom and diligence, the Tara can surely offer a better and better life if there were not the taxation affair. Then, in order to raise money, Scarlett has to go to Atlanta to drop on Rhett, “being a mere woman in a society that is bankrupt and still dominated by men who are either stupid or idealistic―and in any case ineffectual―Scarlett must use the only means available to her for saving the family plantation: sex”  . However, this decision is not an easy one for her, Scarlett fights a quick battle with the “...three most binding ties of her soul―the memory of Ellen, the teachings of her religion and her love for Ashley. She knew that what she had in her mind must be hideous to her mother even in that warm far off heaven where she surely was. She knew that fornication was a mortal sin. And she knew that loving Ashley as she did, her plan was doubly prostitution...”  . Unfortunately, although she has planned to sacrifice herself to Rhett, she fails, for Rhett is in prison.
But in any case she will not give up Tara, and her folks. “She will seduce her sister’s fiancé in order to get his memory”  ―If her sister is a little less selfish than her, Scarlett will need not to marry such an old man. After all, she victimizes herself.
To get and save enough money, Scarlett buys a sawmill herself. She shuttled back and forth in Atlanta city with the whole town talking about her. And she makes a success. Simultaneously, she is excluded out of social contacts. All she has done is to be different from other women and she has made a little success of it. That is the one unforgivable sin in any society. “Be different and be damned”. As Rhett says to her, “Scarlett, the mere fact that you’ve made a success of your mill is an insult to every man who hasn’t succeeded. Remember, a well-bred female’s place is in the home and she should know nothing about this busy brutal world”  . By now, we know, perhaps only partly, the reason why she is “different and damned”.
Only Grandma Fontaine, “gives Scarlett the formula for survival and supplies the rational for Scarlett’s tooth-and-fang code of morality”  : “we play along with lesser folks and we talk what we can get from them, and when we are strong enough, we kick the necks of the folks whose necks we’ve climbed over. That, my child, is the secret of survival”  . Scarlett, too, refuses to be one of the lesser folks, she wants not only to survive but also “prevail and will use any means at hand to gain her ends.” And Scarlett wins the economic battle at last, though she loses the battle of heart  . Scarlett’s tragedy lines in her “inability to understand the meaning of being a lady”  . “No lady would admit that she, and not her husband, ran the plantation. No lady would admit to being hungry in public. No lady would admit to sexual desire or pleasure” 
Indeed, Gone with the Wind has been translated into 35 languages, and sold hundreds of millions of copies worldwide over 75 years. Along with Disney’s Mickey Mouse, Gone with the Wind was one of the first Hollywood products to be widely merchandised, according to Don Rooney, a Margaret Mitchell expert at the history center. The 1939 movie adaptation of Mitchell’s book is regarded as the most successful movie of all time. Gone with the Wind, director Victor Fleming’s almost four-hour blockbuster film, was the longest feature released up to that time, and it was the major Oscar winner of the year. Gone with the Wind was released in 1947, 1954 and 1961. It earned an inflation-adjusted $1.48 billion domestically compared to Avatar’s $760 million.
To trace back history, women have been despised because of their inferior social positions. In the developing of human history, women have suffered a lot. From what has been discussed above, a conclusion can be drawn that women have wakened from the long sleep. The feminist movement in the West has contributed a lot to the social development and its influence could be felt nearly in every aspect of society. Now, women are beginning to be aware of their existence in society.
A famous man has once said that women hold half the sky. A wise writer has said that half the man is a woman. In fact, women are just like the deep-hidden treasure which has not been explored completely. It is not deniable that with the economic globalization, knowledge economy, women have stepped into a bigger arena. Women have a better sense of interpersonal relationship, family and business success. They have the desire to be admitted by the society. But all these good wishes are not easy to accomplish.
Scarlett can love and hate with violence, “her voice was brisk and decisive and she made up her mind instantly and with no girlish shilly-shallying. She knew what she wanted and she went after it by the shortest route, like a man, not by the hidden and circuitous routes peculiar to women”  . She wants not only to survive, but also to prevail and will use any means at hand to gain her ends, and she wins, still keeping an uneasily known kind heart. Those are characters needed for success, in the 21st Century. If Scarlett were living in modern society, instead of the old time, she surely could lead a happy and comfortable life, as many other white-collar women do.
The conclusion summarizes the whole thesis and reiterates the main viewpoint: Scarlett is a new woman in the old time. She is different and damned. However, the society which we live in is an advanced one, so we can imitate her, of course not in all her ways. Fortunately, we could “be different” as she is, moreover, not “damned” as she is. Her bitter experience has turned her into a strong woman. When we faced with difficulties we will call the memories of Scarlett and her words to the world―“Tomorrow is another day”! Scarlett is an attractive steel rose.