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Gone with the Wind is a romantic drama and the only novel written by Margaret Mitchell. The story is set in Jonesboromarker and Atlantamarker, Georgiamarker during the American Civil War and Reconstruction and follows the life of Scarlett O'Hara, the daughter of an Irishmarker immigrant plantation owner.

The novel won the 1937 Pulitzer Prize and was adapted into an Academy Award-winning 1939 film of the same name. The book was also adapted during the 1970s into a stage musical Scarlett; there is also a 2008 new musical stage adaptation in Londonmarker's West Endmarker titled Gone With The Wind. It is the only novel by Mitchell published during her lifetime. It took her seven years to write the book and a further eight months to check the thousands of historical and social references. The novel is one of the most popular books of all time, selling more than 30 million copies. Over the years, the novel has also been analyzed for its symbolism and treatment of mythological archetypes.

Time magazine included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.

Explanation of title

The title is taken from the first line of the third stanza of the poem Non Sum Qualis eram Bonae Sub Regno Cynarae by Ernest Dowson: "I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind." The novel's protagonist. Scarlett O'Hara, also uses the title phrase in a line in the book: when her home area is overtaken by the Yankees, she wonders to herself if her home, a plantation called Tara, is still standing, or if it was "also gone with the wind which had swept through Georgia". More generally, the title has been interpreted as referring to the entire way of life of the antebellum South as having "Gone with the Wind". The prologue of the movie refers to the old way of life in the South as "gone with the wind."

The title for the novel was a problem for Mitchell. She initially titled the book "Pansy," the original name for the character of Scarlett O'Hara. Although never seriously considered, the title "Pansy" was dropped once MacMillan persuaded Mitchell to rename the main character. Other proposed titles included "Tote the Weary Load" and "Tomorrow is Another Day," the latter taken from the last line in the book; however, the publisher noted that there were several books close to the same title at the time, so Mitchell was asked to find another title, and "Gone with the Wind" was chosen. (The actual phrase "gone with the wind" also appears within the text of the novel in the scene in which Scarlett is returning home to Tara and wondering if the house is still standing.)

Plot summary

Part One

The novel opens at Tara, the O'Hara plantation in Georgiamarker, with Scarlett O'Hara flirting idly with Brent and Stuart Tarleton, twin brothers who live on a nearby plantation. The twins are talking about the upcoming war, which is of no interest to Scarlett. According to the twins, the Yankees had already been shelled out of Fort Sumtermarker "the day before yesterday" (which occurred on April 13, 1861), leaving the impression that the date of the opening is probably April 15, 1861. Amidst the chatter, the pair tell Scarlett that Ashley Wilkes, the man Scarlett is secretly in love with, is to marry his cousin Melanie Hamilton, a plain and gentle lady from Atlantamarker. Scarlett hurries to find her father, Gerald O'Hara, who confirms that Ashley does intend to marry Melanie. He warns Scarlett that she and Ashley would make a terrible match and encourages her to consider the attentions of one of the other local beaux.

Scarlett is miserable until she concludes that Ashley does not know she is in love with him. She plots to make Ashley jealous by surrounding herself with men at the barbecue the next day at the Wilkes plantation of Twelve Oaks, then tell him that she prefers him above all the others. Among the fawning gentlemen are Melanie's brother, Charles Hamilton, and Frank Kennedy, the beau of her sister, Suellen O'Hara. Things do not go according to plan. After Scarlett pulls Ashley into the library and confesses her love, Ashley says that he loves her, but he will still marry Melanie. The unreceived Rhett Butler, resting on a couch during the emotional scene, sees Scarlett throw a vase across the room in anger after Ashley leaves. Surprised by his presence, Scarlett tells Rhett that he is no gentleman, and Rhett responds by telling her that she is no lady. Rhett is impressed by her fire, thus cementing the saga that soon will unfold.

Later in the day, when the news of Jefferson Davis's call for troops arrives and as the men at the party excitedly leave to join the war, Scarlett impulsively accepts a marriage proposal from Charles Hamilton in an attempt to make Ashley jealous.

Both couples marry a day apart. Scarlett bitterly regrets her decision, but receives a warm welcome from Melanie, who now considers Scarlett to be her sister. Two months later, Charles dies of measles and pneumonia at a military camp, before he had an opportunity to fight on the battlefield, confirming Scarlett's opinion of his unheroic weakness. Scarlett is not only a widow but she is a new mother, giving birth to a baby boy named Wade Hampton whom she cares little for and pays no attention to. Her contempt for motherhood is equaled only by her interminable impatience with the customary protocol for Southern women in mourning.

Her lamentations include the fact that she is forced to dress in all-black and she cannot go to any parties. Scarlett finds, to her disgust, that she is living quietly at home, with limited social interactions like an old widow. She is more distressed over her boredom and new motherhood than at Charles' death. Her mother, Ellen O'Hara, believing Scarlett to be pining away from a broken heart, sends her, little Wade and Prissy (a young slave of the O'Haras) on trips to visit family in an effort to revive her spirits. Scarlett comes back sooner than is expected from these trips; it is common for these trips to last many months, but her early returns are attributed to her broken heart rather than the boredom and her impatience with the mourning customs she is forced to adhere to. It is not until after returning from a trip to Savannah where she was visiting her mother's sisters that she decides to visit Atlanta. Scarlett has been receiving letters from Melanie and Charles' elderly Aunt Pittypat and Melanie who are living together in Atlanta. These letters beg Scarlett to come live with them as the two women are all alone and would love to see Charles’ only son, Wade. Scarlett takes immediately to the hustle and bustle of Atlanta and finds Aunt Pittypat to be an easy enough pushover. Even though she is contemptuous of Melanie, the lure of Atlanta proves a fair trade for Scarlett.

Part Two

At a fundraising bazaar, Melanie and Scarlett donate their gold wedding rings to the Confederate cause. Rhett pays for the return of Melanie's ring, and she then sees Rhett as a perfect gentleman. Against the background of war, Scarlett stays in Atlanta and enjoys the company of Rhett. He ostensibly calls on Aunt Pittypat, as widows cannot properly receive male callers. Aunt Pittypat is uncomfortable with Rhett's presence, but Melanie firmly declares that he is a good man. Rhett's sharp wit and sarcastic charm infuriate and beguile Scarlett, although she continues to carry a torch for Ashley. When Ashley comes home for Christmas in 1863, Scarlett becomes acutely aware of the privileges Melanie holds as his wife. The day Ashley leaves, Scarlett again reveals her feelings to him, hoping Ashley will break down and allow himself to reveal he loves her, too.

Ashley has a more important matter to discuss with Scarlett. Sensing the end of the war and the fall of the South, he makes Scarlett promise that she will look after Melanie and see his family through the upcoming crisis in his absence. Scarlett blindly agrees to his promise. As Ashley heads for the door, Scarlett clings to him desperately and they share a passionate, forbidden kiss. Scarlett sobs that she loves him and that she only married Charles to hurt him. Ashley says nothing and wrenches himself from her grasp. He hurries from the house and away from Scarlett.

As Melanie has hoped, Ashley has left her with child. Scarlett is none too excited about the news but this shock pales in comparison with the fear and dread that ensues when word comes that Ashley is missing, perhaps dead. Scarlett and Melanie’s fears are somewhat relieved when Rhett Butler pulls strings in order bring the frantic women information on Ashley. Rhett relays that Ashley is in one of the most infamous Yankee prison camps, and Scarlett’s fears mount as she thinks about the starvation and hardships Ashley must be enduring at the hands of the Yankees.

Part Three

The tide of war turns against the South. When the Yankees finally begin their siege of Atlanta, the city evacuates. Aunt Pittypat flees to family in Maconmarker, while Scarlett, Melanie, Wade and Prissy remain in the house. In the nearly deserted town, Rhett comes to see Scarlett and asks her to become his mistress. She refuses because she sees nothing in it for herself except a "passel of brats." Horrified by this instinctive reaction, she tries to retract her words but Rhett laughs and tells her he appreciates her honesty.

Dr. Meade forbids Melanie and Scarlett to leave Atlanta, as Melanie is about to give birth. Scarlett delivers Melanie's baby with only the help of Prissy, as everyone has fled or is too busy caring for wounded soldiers to spare time to help. After a drawn out and damaging birthing, Melanie is nearly dead from blood loss. Scarlett goes outside for air as Prissy bathes the infant. A soldier walks by, informing Scarlett that the army is leaving Atlanta.

Scarlett sends Prissy to find Rhett. He arrives to assist them but the best he can provide is a broken-down horse and a dilapidated wagon stolen from the Army. He carts the weakened Melanie, her infant son Beau, Prissy, Wade, and Scarlett out of Atlanta. But in a fit of conscience, he abandons them on the road to Tara to turn back and fight for the South. Before he leaves, he kisses Scarlett and tells her that he loves her, but she angrily pushes him away, disgusted that he is leaving her in charge of the others back to Tara.

Arriving at Tara, Scarlett finds the house undamaged, and is at first relieved because she feared it would be destroyed like Twelve Oaks. But the cotton and crops are burned to the ground; most of the slaves have run off; her mother has just died of typhoid, leaving her father demented with grief, and her two sisters are still sick. The reins of authority are thrust into her hands. Forced to take up "slave work" and suffering bouts of near starvation, Scarlett realizes her compassion and loyalty to Tara. When a lone Yankee soldier arrives looking to loot and assault Scarlett, she shoots him. Melanie, still weak, comes running with Charles' sword, but it is too heavy for her to lift. Nonetheless, Scarlett feels the beginnings of comradeship with her sister-in-law. The two loot the dead soldier's pockets and knapsack before swearing each other to secrecy about his death. They bury him under the arbor.

Months later, news reaches Tara that the war is over and the Confederacy dissolved. Soldiers begin straggling home. On their way, some stop at Tara for food and hospitality. Comrades bring a wounded soldier named Will Benteen, whom Carreen nurses back to health. Benteen remains at Tara after he recovers, takes on more responsibility, and takes Scarlett's heavy load onto his own shoulders. Suellen's beau Frank Kennedy asks Scarlett for her sister’s hand in marriage and Scarlett gives her consent.

The only word of Ashley is that he was in a Yankee prison for the last year of the war and a letter to Melanie telling her that he is on his way. One day, he appears coming up the long road towards Tara. Melanie and Scarlett both rush to greet him, but Will stops Scarlett, saying, "Don't ruin the moment." Scarlett reluctantly hangs back, but is euphoric over Ashley's return.

Part Four

Will returns the form with the news that the Union has raised taxes on Tara to $300. Dejected, Scarlett seeks comfort from Ashley as he chops wood. She laments her life at Tara and asks him to run away with her. When Scarlett cries, Ashley embraces her. Telling her to stop crying, Ashley kisses her and says that he loves her. He tells her his honor will not allow him to leave Melanie and their child. Scarlett says that if she doesn't have him, nothing is left for her. Ashley picks up the red dirt clay from the ground, presses it to her skin, and reminds her she still has Tara.

As Scarlett returns to the house, Jonas Wilkerson, former overseer of Tara, and his wife Emmie Slattery arrive. Wilkerson wants to buy Tara, thinking that Scarlett does not have the money to pay the taxes. Scarlett orders them to leave. Wilkerson threatens to buy Tara once she and her family are evicted for being unable to pay the taxes.

Frantic to save Tara and anxious to keep Jonas and Emmie out, Scarlett goes to Atlanta to beg Rhett for money, willing to offer herself to him as his mistress to save her home and family. By asking Mammy to make her a new dress out of her late mother's draperies, Scarlett is able to feign wealth to Rhett and pretends an interest in him. Rhett buys it until he sees her hands, which suggest the back-breaking work she has been doing. He announces that he couldn't give her the money even if he wanted to. She says that she hopes he gets hanged and storms out in the rain.

Upon leaving the jail, she runs into Frank Kennedy, now a successful store owner. In desperation, Scarlett manipulates Frank to believe that an impatient Suellen is to marry someone else. Frank, saddened by Suellen's supposed defection and unable to resist Scarlett's charms, marries her and gives her the tax money. After Rhett gets out of jail, he lends her more so that she can buy a sawmill, with the promise that she will not use the money to help Ashley Wilkes.

To her dismay, Scarlett becomes pregnant with Frank’s child. She earns the wrath of Atlanta society's "Old Guard" when she appears pregnant in public and succeeding in business, although she compromises by agreeing not to be seen outside the house whilst pregnant after a certain date. Her daughter is named Ella Lorena, a reference to the Civil War Era song Lorena (Joseph Philbrick Webster, the composer of the song, had an interest in a girl named Ella at the time of writing, in addition to the title "Lorena"). Ella was named after her grandmother, Ellen.

Scarlett receives word from Tara that her father, Gerald, has died. When she returns to Tara for the funeral, Will tells her about the circumstances of his death. Suellen had tried to persuade a disoriented Gerald to sign the Ironclad Oath (to the Union government) for a fee. Briefly lucid, Gerald realizes her intentions, flies into a rage and disowns Suellen. In an attempt to jump a fence with his horse, he falls and breaks his neck. The community despises Suellen for her part in Gerald's death. Scarlett, struggling with her family’s poverty, quietly agrees with her.

Despite his love for Carreen, Will announces his intention to marry Suellen to assuage the community’s animosity toward her. Carreen, unable to recover from the death of Brent Tarleton at Gettysburg, enters a convent.

After Gerald's funeral, Scarlett plots to stop Ashley from going North to find work. By faking a flood of tears, she persuades Melanie to compel Ashley to help her with the mill as a way of repaying Scarlett for evacuating her and Beau from a falling Atlanta. Thus, Scarlett manipulates Ashley into returning to Atlanta to run her sawmill.

Scarlett regularly drives alone to and from the sawmill, despite being warned against it by acquaintances. One day, she is assaulted by a poor white man and his black companion as she drives through the woods near a shantytown. Her former slave, Big Sam, appears and fights off the attackers. To avenge the attack, Frank, Ashley, and local men (part of the Ku Klux Klan), plan to raid the shantytown. Local law enforcement officers find out and inform Rhett of their plans over a game of cards. During the raid, Ashley is injured and Frank is killed.

To save the survivors from being hanged, Rhett persuades Belle Watling, the local madam, to fabricate a phony alibi by letting the survivors into her brothel through the back door and pretending to throw them out the front door in full sight of the public. She threatens her prostitutes that she will beat them if they don't tell the authorities that the men were there all evening. The men are furious that Rhett humiliated them like this, but Rhett earns the admiration of Melanie Wilkes for saving their lives and Caroline Meade silently agrees.

Following Frank’s funeral, Rhett unceremoniously proposes to Scarlett, wanting to marry her before she marries someone else. Belle Watling hears that Melanie wishes to pay a call on her in order to thank her for saving Ashley's life on the night of the raid. To forestall the visit, which would scandalize Atlanta society, Belle stops by Melanie's house in a closed carriage to see Melanie. Melanie offers Belle her friendship in return. Scarlett remains disapproving of Belle Watling, even after her part in saving her beloved Ashley's life.

Part Five

Scarlett marries Rhett in 1868 and finds her marriage surprisingly pleasant. Other than refusing to help Ashley Wilkes, Rhett spoils her. Scarlett spends time with newly rich Yankees, portrayed as having few scruples. Scarlett builds a mansion and spends lavishly. The Old Guard cut Scarlett and Rhett out of society for keeping company with Yankees and flaunting their wealth.

Only Melanie's undying loyalty keeps Scarlett in the fold at all. Scarlett learns that she is pregnant and gives birth to a baby girl. While they name the infant Eugenia Victoria (for Queen Victoria and French Empress Eugénie de Montijo), Melanie, while talking to Rhett, mentions the child's eyes are as blue as the Bonnie Blue flag, inadvertently creating the lasting nickname of Bonnie Blue Butler. Rhett is immensely proud of the child and spoils her unashamedly.

Ashley mentions he hates the thought of Rhett's hands on Scarlett's body and she feels chagrined at the ruin of her figure. Not wanting to further betray her love for Ashley, Scarlett informs Rhett she does not want to have any more children and she will no longer share his bed. Rhett becomes bitterly angry, but does nothing to change her mind. He tells her that "the world is full of beds - and most of the beds are full of women."

Now rejected by Scarlett, Rhett turns to their daughter Bonnie for comfort. Rhett decides Bonnie should have every desire and turns to winning over Atlanta. He lavishes Bonnie with the love and affection he intended to give to his wife.

In April 1871, Melanie plans a surprise birthday party for Ashley. Scarlett goes to the mill after Melanie asks her to stall him. She and Ashley chat about old times at Twelve Oaks. He hugs her in an attempt to console her, because she is overwhelmed by the memories and hates to look back at the past. However, India Wilkes, Mrs. Elsing, and Archie witness and misinterpret this embrace, all suspecting Scarlett's true feelings for Ashley. They eagerly spread the rumour. Later that evening, Rhett, having heard from Archie, drags Scarlett out of bed and takes her to the party in her most flamboyant dress. Incapable of believing anything bad about her beloved sister-in-law, Melanie stands by Scarlett's side so that all will know she believes the gossip to be false.

At home later that night, Scarlett finds Rhett drunk. Blind with jealousy, he tells Scarlett he loves her and could kill her to make her forget Ashley. Picking her up, he carries her up the stairs and the two make passionate, uninhibited love. Scarlett wakes up alone the next morning, eager to see her husband. Rhett stays away as he is horrified at his behavior,and worried that he is mistaken and Scarlett doesn't love him, returning three days later to inform Scarlett that he is leaving with Bonnie for an extended trip. Atlanta society chooses sides between India and Scarlett. Melanie continues to support Scarlett and rejects India, her husband's own sister.

Scarlett discovers she is pregnant again. For the first time, she is glad. In July 1871, Rhett returns after three months. After he rebuffs Scarlett's attempts at reconciliation, she tells him she does not want the baby. Hurt, Rhett scornfully says, "Cheer up. Maybe you'll have a miscarriage." Enraged, Scarlett tries to attack him, but he dodges her slap. She is thrown off balance and can't prevent herself from falling down the stairs. She suffers a miscarriage.

Rhett, frantic with guilt, sits in his room drinking to the point of oblivion, convinced that he has killed Scarlett. When Melanie visits to tell him Scarlett is doing better, he cries to Melanie about his jealousy. He refrains from telling Melanie about Scarlett's true feelings for Ashley.

Scarlett goes to Tara to recuperate with Wade and Ella. After she recovers, Rhett tricks Scarlett into selling the sawmills to Ashley. Rhett spends his time edging Bonnie back into Southern society.

After her fourth birthday (by most estimations sometime in the summer of 1873), Bonnie dies while trying to jump her horse, 'Mr. Butler', the same way as her grandfather Gerald O'Hara did. Scarlett blames Rhett, Rhett blames himself, and they refuse to see each other. Scarlett regrets what she said and desperately wants to see him, but a chasm has formed between the two. They continue living together as strangers passing in the halls.

While Scarlett is away at Marietta with Wade and Ella, she receives an urgent telegram from Rhett that Melanie is gravely ill. Scarlett rushes back to Atlanta to learn that Melanie is dying from complications of a miscarriage. After having Beau, she was warned by doctors not to have any more children, but Melanie always wanted more children and became pregnant. Rhett drops Scarlett off at the Wilkes home and leaves.

On her deathbed, Melanie tells Scarlett to watch out for Ashley and to be good to Rhett because he loves her. Scarlett goes to Ashley to find strength to help him in his grief, but she finds someone more adrift than she is. She realizes that she never really loved Ashley. She had been attracted to Ashley because he represented the unattainable, which was made more potent because he embodied the Southern "noble knight" ideal that had been romanticized throughout her childhood.

She rushes home through the mist to share her revelation with Rhett, now drained of his love for Scarlett. He rejects her overtures and tells her he is leaving her, that he had already planned to before Scarlett left for Marietta. Scarlett cries, "If you go, what shall I do?" Rhett replies with the famous line, "My dear, I don't give a damn." (The movie inserted the word "frankly.")

He goes up the stairs to prepare to leave Atlanta. Earlier in the conversation he told Scarlett that at age 45 he was confronted by desire to recapture what he viewed as the gentler pace of past. He specifically raised the possibility of returning to his hometown of Charleston. Devastated by her realization of true love and the consequences of her past selfishness, Scarlett decides to go back to Tara. She is sure she can think of a solution. She still believes Rhett will return to her if she tries to reconcile. The book ends with Scarlett's proclamation: "After all, tomorrow is another day!"


Butler Family

  • Scarlett O'Hara – protagonist, willful and spoiled Southern debutante and daughter of a rich plantation owner. Scarlett will do anything to keep her land and get what she wants.
  • Rhett Butler – Scarlett's love interest and third husband, often publicly shunned for scandalous behavior, sometimes accepted for his charm. He is financially a very shrewd man and initially appears to love Scarlett dearly.
  • Eugenie Victoria "Bonnie Blue" Butler – Scarlett and Rhett's pretty, beloved, pampered daughter.
Note: In the movie, Scarlett didn't have any children with her first two husbands. The only child she had was Bonnie with Rhett Butler.

Wilkes Family

  • Ashley Wilkes – the man Scarlett loves, Melanie's husband, a gentleman and dreamer, who nevertheless sees that the Southern way of life is doomed. He claims to be attracted to Scarlett but still loves Melanie and Beau. After the war, and fall of the confederacy he seems jaded. Almost all of his actions are motivated by duty and responsibility.
  • Melanie Hamilton Wilkes – Ashley's wife and second cousin, a true lady. She is quiet and sees the good in people. She loves Ashley, Beau, and Scarlett unwaveringly. Despite her quiet nature, she is a stalwart supporter of the Confederacy and Scarlett and speaks out about both.
  • Beau Wilkes – Melanie's and Ashley's lovable son, delivered by Scarlett.
  • India Wilkes – Ashley's sister. Almost engaged to Stuart Tarleton, she bitterly hates Scarlett for stealing his attention before he is killed at Gettysburgmarker. Lives with Aunt Pittypat after Melanie kicks her out for accusing Scarlett and Ashley of infidelity.
  • Honey Wilkes – boy-crazy sister of India and Ashley. Originally "intended" to marry Charles Hamilton until Scarlett marries him, following the war, she marries a man from Mississippi, and moves to his home state with him.
  • John Wilkes – Owner of Twelve Oaks Plantation and patriarch of the Wilkes family. Killed during the Civil War.

O'Hara Family

  • Gerald O'Hara – Scarlett's fiery Irish father.
  • Ellen Robillard O'Hara – Scarlett's beloved mother, of aristocratic French ancestry, a true southern lady.
  • Katie Scarlett O'Hara – Protagonist of the novel.
  • Susan Elinor "Suellen" O'Hara Benteen – Scarlett's younger sister, whiny and lazy, originally is to be married to Frank Kennedy, but later marries Will Benteen.
  • Caroline Irene "Carreen" O'Hara – Scarlett's youngest sister, gentle and kind, joins a convent in Charleston after her beloved Brent Tarleton dies at Gettysburg. Will Benteen loves her, but she never got over Brent.
  • Eulalie & Pauline Robillard – Ellen's sisters who live in Charleston. They are aristocratic, and are concerned with social status.

Other characters

  • Mammy – Scarlett's nurse from birth; a slave. Cited by Rhett as "the real head of the household." She has a no-nonsense attitude and is outspoken and opinionated. She chastises Scarlett often. She is extremely loyal to the O'Haras, especially Scarlett, who she cares for like a daughter, but also understands she is her subordinate.
  • Prissy – A young slave girl who features in Scarlett's life. She is portrayed as flighty and silly.
  • Pork – The O'Hara family's butler, favored by Gerald.
  • Dilcey – Pork's wife, a strong, outspoken slave woman of mixed Indian and Black decent, Prissy's mother.
  • Charles Hamilton – Melanie's brother, Scarlett's first husband, shy and loving.
  • Frank Kennedy – Suellen's former beau, Scarlett's second husband, an older man who only wants peace and quiet. He is portrayed as a pushover who will do anything to appease Scarlett.
  • Belle Watling – a madam; Rhett is her friend. She is portrayed as a kind-hearted country woman and a loyal confederate. At one point she states she has nursing experience.
  • Archie – an ex-convict and former Confederate soldier who is taken in by Melanie. Has a strong disliking for all women, especially Scarlett. The only woman he respects is Melanie.
  • Jonas Wilkerson – former overseer of Tara, father of Emmie Slattery's illegitimate baby.
  • Emmie Slattery – later wife of Jonas Wilkerson, who Scarlett blames for her mothers death
  • Will Benteen – Confederate soldier who seeks refuge at Tara and stays on to help with the plantation, in love with Carreen but marries Suellen to stay on Tara, and repair her reputation. He is portrayed as very perceptive and lost half of his leg in the war.
  • Aunt Pittypat Hamilton – Charles' and Melanie's vaporish aunt who lives in Atlanta.
  • Uncle Peter – Aunt Pittypat's houseman and driver, he is extremely loyal to Pittypat
  • Wade Hampton Hamilton – son of Scarlett and Charles, fearful and adoring of Scarlett and Rhett
  • Ella Lorena Kennedy – ugly, dull daughter of Scarlett and Frank who has equinophobia, unlike her half sister and grandfather.


  • Tara Plantation – The O'Hara home and plantation
  • Twelve Oaks – The Wilkes plantation.
  • Peachtree Street – location of Aunt Pittypat's home and the atlentica farm


The book includes a vivid description of the fall of Atlantamarker in 1864 and the devastation of war (some of that aspect was missing from the 1939 film). The novel showed considerable historical research. According to her biography, Mitchell herself was ten years old before she learned that the South had lost the war. Mitchell's sweeping narrative of war and loss helped the book win the Pulitzer Prize on May 3, 1937.

An episode in the book dealt with the early Ku Klux Klan. In the immediate aftermath of the War, Scarlett is assaulted by poor Southerners living in shanties, whereupon her former black slave Big Sam saves her life. In response, Scarlett's male friends attempt to make a retaliatory nighttime raid on the encampment. Northern soldiers try to stop the attacks, and Rhett helps Ashley, who is shot, to get help through his prostitute friend Belle. Scarlett's husband Frank is killed. This raid is presented sympathetically as being necessary and justified, while the law-enforcement officers trying to catch the perpetrators are depicted as oppressive Northern occupiers.

Although the Klan is not mentioned in that scene (though Rhett tells Archie to burn the "robes"), the book notes that Scarlett finds the Klan abominable. She believed the men should all just stay at home (she wanted both to be petted for her ordeal and to give the hated Yankees no more reason to tighten martial law, which is bad for her businesses). Rhett is also mentioned to be no great lover of the Klan. At one point, he said that if it were necessary, he would join in an effort to join "society". The novel never explicitly states whether this drastic step was necessary in his view. The local chapter later breaks up under the pressure from Rhett and Ashley.

Scarlett expresses views that were common of the era. Some examples:
  • "How stupid negroes were! They never thought of anything unless they were told." — Scarlett thinks to herself, after returning to Tara after the fall of Atlanta.
  • "How dared they laugh, the black apes!...She'd like to have them all whipped until the blood ran down...What devils the Yankees were to set them free!" — Scarlett again thinking to herself, seeing free blacks after the war.
  • However, she is kind to Pork, her father's trusted manservant. He tells Scarlett that if she were as nice to white people as she is to black, a lot more people would like her.
  • She almost loses her temper when the Yankee women say they would never have a black nurse in their house and talk about Uncle Peter, Aunt Pittypat's beloved and loyal servant, as if he were a mule. Scarlett informs them that Uncle Peter is a member of the family, which bewilders the Yankee women and leads them to misinterpret the situation.
  • It was mentioned that only one slave was ever whipped at Tara, and that was a stablehand who didn't brush Gerald's horse. And Scarlett only ever hit a slave when Prissy was hysterical.
  • Scarlett at one point criticized Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, saying no one treated their slaves that badly.


As several elements of Gone with the Wind have parallels with Margaret Mitchell's own life, her experiences may have provided some inspiration for the story in context. Mitchell's understanding of life and hardship during the American Civil War, for example, came from elderly relatives and neighbors passing war stories to her generation.

While Margaret Mitchell used to say that her Gone with the Wind characters were not based on real people, modern researchers have found similarities to some of the people in Mitchell's own life as well as to individuals she knew or she heard of. Mitchell's maternal grandmother, Annie Fitzgerald Stephens, was born in 1845; she was the daughter of an Irish immigrant, who owned a large plantation on Tara Road in Clayton County, south of Atlanta, and who married an American woman named Ellen, and had several children, all daughters.

Many researchers believe that the physical brutality and low regard for women exhibited by Rhett Butler was based on Mitchell's first husband, Red Upshaw. She divorced him after she learned he was a bootlegger amid rumors of abuse and infidelity. Some believe he was patterned on the life of George Trenholm.

After a stay at the plantation called The Woodlands, and later Barnsley Gardens, Mitchell may have gotten the inspiration for the dashing scoundrel from Sir Godfrey Barnsley of Adairsville, Georgia.

Martha Bulloch Roosevelt, the mother of US president Theodore Roosevelt may have been an inspiration for Scarlett O'Hara. Roosevelt biographer David McCullough discovered that Mitchell, as a reporter for The Atlanta Journal, conducted an interview with one of Martha's closest friends and bridesmaid, Evelyn King Williams, then 87. In that interview, she described Martha's physical appearance, beauty, grace, and intelligence in detail. The similarities between Martha and the Scarlett character are striking.


The sales of Margaret Mitchell's novel in the summer of 1936, at the virtually unprecedented price of three dollars, reached about one million by the end of December. Favorable critics found in the novel and its success an implicit rejection of what one reviewer dismissed as "all the thousands of technical tricks our novelists have been playing with for the past twenty years," while from the ramparts of the critical establishment almost universally male reviewers lamented the book's literary mediocrity and labeled it mere "entertainment."


Over the past years, the novel Gone with the Wind has also been analyzed for its symbolism and mythological treatment of archetypes.Scarlett has been characterized as a heroic figure struggling and attempting to twist life to suit her own wishes. The land is considered a source of strength, as in the plantation Tara, whose name is almost certainly drawn from the Hill of Tara in Ireland, a mysterious and poorly-understood archeological site that has traditionally been connected to the temporal and/or spiritual authority of the ancient Irish kings.


Although Mitchell refused to write a sequel to Gone With The Wind, Mitchell's estate authorised Alexandra Ripley to write the novel Scarlett in 1991.

Author Pat Conroy was approached to write a follow-up, but the project was ultimately abandoned.

In 2000, the copyright holders attempted to suppress publication of Alice Randall’s The Wind Done Gone, a book that retold the story from the point of view of the slaves. A federal appeals court denied the plaintiffs an injunction against publication in Suntrust v. Houghton Mifflin (2001), on the basis that the book was parody protected by the First Amendment. The parties subsequently settled out of court to allow the book to be published. After its release, the book became a New York Times bestseller.

In 2002, the copyright holders blocked distribution of an unauthorised sequel published in the U.S, The Winds of Tara by Katherine Pinotti, alleging copyright infringement. The story follows Scarlett as she returns to Tara where a family issue threatens Tara and the family's reputation. In it Scarlett shows just how far she will go to protect her family and her home. The book was immediately removed from bookstores by publisher Xlibris. The book sold in excess of 2,000 copies within 2 weeks before being removed. More recently, in 2008, Australian publisher Fontaine Press re-published "The Winds of Tara" exclusively for their domestic market, avoiding U.S. copyright restrictions.

A second sequel was released in November 2007. The story covers the same time period as Gone with the Wind and is told from Rhett Butler’s perspective – although it begins years before and ends after. Written by Donald McCaig, this novel is titled Rhett Butler's People (2007).


Gone With The Wind has been adapted several times for stage and screen, most famously in the 1939 film starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh.

On stage it has been adapted as a musical Scarlett (premiering in 1972). The musical opened in the West End followed by a pre-Broadway tryout in 1973 (with Leslie Ann Warren as Scarlett). The book was again adapted as a musical called Gone With The Wind which premiered at the New London Theatremarker in 2008 in a production directed by Trevor Nunn.

The Japanese Takarazuka Revuemarker has also adapted the novel into a musical with the same name. The first performance was in 1977, performed by the Moon Troupe. It has been performed several times since by the group, the most recent being in 2004 (performed by the Cosmos Troupe).

See also


  1. See linked terms for more explanation and source references.
  2. O. Levitski and O. Dumer, "Bestsellers: Color Symbolism and Mythology in Margaret Mitchell’s Novel Gone with the Wind" (of "Bonnie Blue"), Americana: The Institute for the Study of American Popular Culture, September 2006, webpage: APC-Mitchell.
  4. RPO - Ernest Dowson: Non Sum Qualis Eram Bonae sub Regno Cynarae
  5. Arehart-Treichel, J: "Novel That Brought Fame, Riches Had a Surprising Birth", Psychiatric News, 40(4):20
  6. Gone With The Wind - Finding the Real Margaret Mitchell
  7. Rosen, Robert N. Confederate Charleston: An illustrated history of the city and the people during the Civil War. University of South Carolina Press, 1994. p. 151.
  8. Strauch, Ileana Ashley Hall, SC. Arcadia Publishing, 2003. p. 10.
  9. Claudia Roth Pierpont, "A Study in Scarlett," New Yorker (August 31, 1992), p. 87.
  10. Pierpont, "A Study in Scarlett," p. 88.
  11. "SparkNotes: Gone with the Wind: Themes, Motifs & Symbols" (book notes), Spark Notes, 2006, webpage: SparkN-GWTW.

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