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Free Study Guide - Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

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GONE WITH THE WIND LITERARY ANALYSIS

SYMBOLISM / MOTIFS / IMAGERY / SYMBOLS

Ashley Wilkes
Ashley symbolizes the old south

Rhett Butler
He represents a type of all who were ostracized from society because they didn't conform to traditional expectations.

Scarlett
An early "women's activist"

Tara
Home, Scarlett's roots, the center of life which is worth fighting for.

Mammy, Pork and Old Sam
The types of the household slaves. Contrary to some beliefs, the slaves are a valued part of the family and many were intensely loyal to the people they served.

The lumber mills
They symbolize progress and independence, but their location on the outskirts of town also suggests alienation.

Aunt Pittypat's house
The best of the old south. That element of the old traditions which was real rather than artificial and was therefore able to withstand the wind of war and change.


Melanie
Pride and courage born of character rather than money and therefore able to function as a pillar of support for other people.


KEY FACTS

Title - Gone With the Wind

Author - Margaret Mitchell

Date Published - 1936

Meaning of the Title - Taken from an Ernest Dowson poem, "Cynara". She chose the line because: "it had the far away, faintly sad sound I wanted."

Last night, ah, yesternight, betwixt her lips and mine There fell thy shadow, Cynara! thy breath was shed Upon my soul between the kisses and the wine;

And I was desolate and sick of an old passion, Yea, I was desolate and bowed my head: I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

All night upon mine heart I felt her warm heart beat, Night-long within mine arms in love and sleep she lay; Surely the kisses of her bought red mouth were sweet; But I was desolate and sick of an old passion, When I awoke and found the dawn was gray: I have been faithful to you, Cynara! in my fashion.

I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind,

Flung roses, roses riotously with the throng, Dancing, to put thy pale, lost lilies out of mind; But I was desolate and sick of an old passion, Yea, all the time, because the dance was long;

I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

I cried for madder music and for stronger wine, But when the feast is finished and the lamps expire, Then falls thy shadow, Cynara! the night is thine; And I am desolate and sick of an old passion, Yea, hungry for the lips of my desire: I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion. Ernest Dowson, 1896

Setting - Atlanta, Georgia during the Civil War period; Tara, a plantation in Georgia.

Genre - Novel (Romance, Historical Fiction)

Narrator - Anonymous, third person omniscient.

Protagonist - Scarlett O'Hara

Antagonist - The society of Atlanta and Rhett Butler

Mood - Sympathetic

Point of View - Mainly omniscient following Scarlett's perspective, but switches to following the other characters where necessary. Historical sections are in an objective third point, clearly the voice of the narrator as she explains things the characters would not have known.

Tense - The story is told in the past tense.

Primary Conflict - Scarlett vs. Society; Scarlett vs. Rhett

Rising Action - Scarlett is in love with Ashley, She marries Rhett.

Climax - Rhett thinks that Scarlett is still chasing Ashley. They sleep together a last time resulting in a pregnancy and miscarriage.

Outcome - Little Bonnie dies after falling from her pony. He returns to his former drinking habits. Rhett gives up on Scarlett thinking she will return to Ashley, He leaves her. Scarlett returns to Tara and from there she'll try to figure out a way to get him back.

Falling Action - Bonnie dies; Melanie dies; Scarlett has a miscarriage; Rhett gives up on Scarlett while Scarlett realizes she loves Rhett, not Ashley.

Major Themes - Love of Money, Fantasy versus reality, Loss and Change, Survival.

Minor Themes - Attitudes toward slavery, Idealism of the south, Poverty and dignity, Oppression of women.

Symbols/Motifs - The lumber mills, Tara, Aunt Pittypat's house, Ashley and Rhett, Mammy, Pork and Old Sam, Scarlett and Melanie.


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