What can I say about Gone With The Wind that has not been already said? It is a classic of epic proportions. Literally. Margaret Mitchell published this novel in 1936, with the 1st edition consisting of 1037 pages! Though it is no mean task to finish reading it, I go back to it time and again because it is a gripping story of love. No….I don’t mean that it is just a love story. For me, the book speaks of different kinds of love we have – for self, for one’s land and country, for people, and for things that are important to us. I find the story inspirational at many levels.
I first read Gone With The Wind when I was in my early teens and it took me about a week to finish it. When I saw the cover, I expected it to be a period drama and so borrowed it from the library as I liked reading such stories. I thought it would be like a Jane Austen novel (who by the way is one of my favorite authors)….but I was so wrong. Gone With The Wind is truly a one-of-a-kind novel and I haven’t come across another book that has touched me so deeply. I go back to reading it every year (yes…I am weird like that when it comes to books 🙂 ) and depending on the frame of mind when I read it, my takeaway is different. The book was later adapted into a movie in 1939, starring Vivien Leigh & Clark Gable in the lead roles of Scarlett & Rhett. I have been able to catch it on TV only once, some 20 years back!
The story is set against the backdrop of the American Civil War. The protagonist, Scarlett O’Hara, is not the typical heroine of a period novel. If anything, she is all that a woman was not supposed to be during those times. She is stubborn, sly, scheming, a liar, and a cheat who will stop at nothing to get what she wants – in this case, it is Ashley her one great love. Why then do I find her so inspirational?
Scarlett transforms from a carefree spoilt child bride to the mistress of her plantation, Tara, overnight literally. She is unapologetic about the not so ‘straight’ decisions she takes to keep her home and loved ones safe – be it getting married (she marries 3 times for reasons other than love) or fraternizing with the enemy. She is focused on her goal, which is to fight for her land and her loved ones, even in the face of censure and at the risk of being a social outcast. Because she is so flawed, she becomes very relatable as many of us may have been in a similar situation, albeit in a 20th-century scenario.
Her love for Ashley is more of holding on to something she cannot have, rather than actual passion, for she is so different from him. This is so true for many of us who ignore mistakes in the ones we love. This love is what drives all of her actions in the novel, be it her first marriage to his wife’s brother, just to spite him or her grudging loyalty to his wife Melanie because of the promise she makes. Of course, there is the epic story of Scarlett & her 3rd husband Rhett who are so alike and fall in love with each other but fail to acknowledge it due to ego. Rhett walks away just when Scarlett realizes he is one for her.
After reading the novel many times, I came across a review that spoke of Scarlett’s character being sculpted on an Aries woman – maybe that is why I identified with her so much as I am an Aries too. Many of the decisions that she takes might be the ones that I would choose too if I was in her predicament. It is a story of love, loyalty, and survival in the face of many difficulties.
Here are a few life lessons that I learnt from Gone With The Wind that may strike a chord with you too, during these difficult times.
Hard Work Always Pays
There are no shortcuts to success. If you want to achieve something, be prepared to work hard for it. When you fall on hard times, don’t live in the shadow of past glory. Don’t be afraid to get down and dirty. Set an example to others by doing the hard work yourself.
Love Of Land
Learn to cherish the land and your country. It is what gives you your identity. It is timeless – it was there before you and will remain after you. It is your legacy to your future generations.
Take care of the people who are dependent on you. Be it your family or your team or your staff. When you become responsible for their physical and emotional well-being, you earn their undying loyalty in return.
Be loyal to your loved ones and the people who have stood by you, even if you are the only one to stand by them. It may make all the difference in the world to them. Choose to stand with them even when the going gets tough – let your integrity shine through.
Dare To Dream
Nothing is impossible when you put your mind to it. Do not let your gender or society dictate what you can or cannot do. If you dream of something, work hard to find a way to achieve it. Be a trail-blazer, not the follower.
Worries Can Be Postponed
If things seem out of your control and there is no solution in sight, park the problem to be solved at a later time/date. Worrying about things that you cannot do anything about doesn’t help anyone.
Courage & Determination
These can take you through the toughest times and make you take actions that you normally would not do. It can also help you sustain yourself in the face of fierce opposition.
Sometimes, You Lose
You can’t always have what you want. If you do not cherish what you have, you may lose it. Despite your best effort and honest confessions, some things are not meant to be. Learn when to let go.
This book is a classic and is loved by many. However, there is also a lot of controversy as many feel that it glorified the days of slavery. That is one of the reasons why you don’t see the movie being played on TV.
For me, this story has been my companion in both good times and bad. The book has seen me through some of my darkest times, motivating me to go forward because as Scarlett says “Afterall, Tomorrow Is Another Day”. It has inspired me to try different things without fear of censure or risk. It has also taught me the power of love. And it is the inspiration behind the “Scarlett” in my name – “The Scarlett Dragonfly”.