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Free Study Guide - Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

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GONE WITH THE WIND - LITERATURE SUMMARY


LITERARY ELEMENTS


SETTING

The story takes place in Georgia, mostly in Atlanta, during the Civil War of the 1860's. However, important sections also take place in Tara, the plantation home of the O’Hara family. The plantation is one of several that spanned southern Georgia and is, fictionally, one of those that survived the destruction of General Sherman's march.

The story begins with the Civil War and spans seven or eight years following the war, a time period during which the "old south" with its elegance, wealth and aristocratic traditions is subjected to a federally mandated program called "Radical Reconstruction." Atlanta is first burned and then rebuilt by Yankees who prosper while southerners who cling desperately to the old traditions subsist in proud poverty.

An interesting aspect of the setting is that much of it takes place on Peachtree Street, the house of Aunt Pittypat that resembles the childhood home of the author herself. The Margaret Mitchell house still stands in its original location although it took the work of the Atlanta Historical Society in the latter portion of the 20th century to prevent it from being torn down. Other houses that once surrounded it and are a part of the story have been replaced by various shops.


CHARACTER LIST

Major Characters

Scarlett O’Hara
The protagonist of the novel. She is the daughter of Gerald and Ellen O'Hara and is accustomed to getting her own way, whether with clothes or boys. She surrounds herself with young men, flirting mercilessly and is not above stealing the beaux of other girls. She is willful, conniving, and yet far more intelligent than well-bred girls are supposed to be.

Ashley Wilkes
Husband to Melanie Hamilton and object of Scarlett's life-long fantasy. He is a true member of the old south who feels unable to cope with the new world.

Melanie Hamilton
Wife to Ashley Wilkes and sister-in-law to Scarlett. Described by Rhett as the only truly kind person he has ever known. Unable to believe anything bad about people she loves.

Rhett Butler
Scarlett's life long antagonist who is in love with her from the moment he sees her. He is an opportunist willing to take advantage of any situation, but not without kindness or generosity under the right conditions.

Mammy
Scarlett's childhood nurse and life-long servant and companion. Mammy understands Scarlett better than Scarlett understands herself and is remarkably intuitive, but also protective and motherly.


Minor Characters

Tarleton boys
Stuart, Brent, Boyd, Tom: young men from a neighboring plantation

James Tarleton
The father of the Tarleton boys

Mr. Calvert and his "Yankee" wife
The owners of smaller neighboring plantation

The Calvert children
Raiford, Cade, Cathleen

Joe and Tony Fontaine
Sons on another nearby plantation

Sally Monroe
Joe’s bride

Dimity Munroe
Sally's sister

John Wilkes
Ashley’s father

Ellen O’Hara
Scarlett's mother

Gerald O’Hara
Scarlett's father


Suellen and Coreen O’Hara
Scarlett's younger sisters

Charles Hamilton
Scarlett’s first husband, brother to Melanie

Prissy and Dilcey
Additional slaves purchased by Gerald early in the story. Prissy is given to Scarlett

Pork
Gerald's personal servant

Frank Kenney
Scarlett’s second husband stolen from Suellen

Honey and India Wilkes
Ashley’s younger sisters

The Merriwethers, the Elsings, the Meads
Citizens of Atlanta

Peter
Pittypat's house servant

Belle Watling
Owner of the whorehouse of Atlanta

Rene Picard
Beau to Maybelle Merriwether

Wade
Scarlett's first child by Charles

Ella
Scarlett's second child by Frank

Bonnie Blue
Scarlett's third and last child

Archie
A homeless soldier with a past who stays in Melanie's basement and serves as a bodyguard to the women

Hugh Elsing
Husband of Mrs. Elsing

Tommy Gallagher
A Low class foreman who runs one of Scarlett's mills.

 

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