Free Study Guide - Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell|
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GONE WITH THE WIND STUDY NOTES
By 1863, Miss Pittypat’s home is the only one Rhett can enter. Dr. Meade took action late in 1862 to write a letter to the newspaper in which he maligned profiteering; although he did not mention Rhett by name, the meaning was obvious. This is followed by a series of rumor about Rhett having his own boats and buying up others as well, then selling the cargo at outlandish prices. Melanie continues to defend Rhett, saying he is as patriotic as anyone else, but just doesn’t choose to show it. Scarlett, however, knows he is every bit the mercenary and suspects that most of the rumors about him are true.
One day he brings her a green bonnet, something not in keeping with the mourning black that she is still expected to wear. He threatens to take it from her if she does anything to change it and vows that he will continue to bring her gifts and that eventually he will demand something from her in return. She expects him to try to kiss her and immediately begins thinking about how she could toy with him if he should fall in love with her.
The day after the hat incident, Melanie comes home from the hospital in tears and with a guilty look on her face. Uncle Peter, the family’s black carriage driver, housekeeper, and caretaker saw her talking with the town madam, Belle Watling. Belle was trying to contribute to the work at the hospital, but Mrs. Elsing had refused to even talk to her. So she has given a handkerchief tied with money in it to Melanie. The two girls untie the handkerchief to count the money, and Scarlett sees Rhett’s initials on the corner. To Scarlett, the very idea that he has anything to do with Miss Watling proves that he couldn’t be in love with her. She burns the handkerchief, wishing she could throw it in his face instead. Unfortunately, a lady could never let him know that she even realized such women existed.
We are given a sharp contrast between Melanie and Scarlett as well as some insight into the character of the "bad" woman of the town. Melanie is capable of recognizing the good in Belle even though she is terrified to be seen talking with her. Scarlett cares nothing about Belle, but is insanely jealous over Rhett's apparent association with her. At this point Scarlett still maintains an appearance of conforming to at least some of the social conventions.
The fact that Belle has to find a ruse to donate money to the "cause" is a reflection on the stuffy attitudes of the people. They are desperately in need of money but will refuse it if they know the source is from someone they disapprove of. They are incapable of seeing that beneath the occupation Belle has created for herself, there lies a heart of gold and a shrewd understanding of the people of her era.
Scarlett herself needs little excuse to stop wearing black, but is too blind and self-centered to see that Rhett brings her gifts because he is in love with her. In fact, when she does think about the possibility of love, it is only to ponder ways to manipulate it to her own advantage. This blind, cruel streak in her permeates everything she does and is enough to keep some readers from ever being wholly sympathetic toward her.
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Ruff, Dr. KSC. "TheBestNotes on Gone With the Wind".
. 09 May 2017