Sunday, August 7, 2011

The End

When we started this blog, we knew that it was a project with an end date in sight, even if we didn't know exactly when that day would come. That day has come now, a little over a year after our first post. After tomorrow, we will no longer be updating the blog or the Facebook page attached to it. Nothing will be deleted, naturally, but no new things will be added.

It was not a decision made easily, but we think it's time.  Given time, drive and other RL considerations, we feel that this project is, if not completed (can you ever run out of GWTW subjects?), at least well rounded and ready to be finished.

Blogging about Gone with the Wind has been one of the most gratifying things we ever did.  It much exceeded our expectations, however high those were when we started. We met a lot of great people, whom we would have never met otherwise, we were part of a very active, very dedicated community and we learned many things, both from researching stuff and from the discussions here and on Facebook. We thank you all for your contributions and support. You were really the best part of blogging and we will miss you!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Quotable Rhett Butler: All Great Neptune's Ocean and a Farewell

So this is it, folks, the last ever installment of the Quotable Rhett Butler series. It has been my favorite thing to write for the blog and I hope you enjoyed it just as much as I did. We say goodbye today with one of the most easily recognizable of Rhett's references, one that comes straight from Shakespeare:
"'Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood clean from my hand?'" 
Gone with the Wind, Chapter XLVII
This line occurs during the scene in Pittypat's library, before Rhett proposes. Scarlett is wrecked with guilt and admits that her actions made Frank's life miserable and indirectly caused his death. Rhett's reply, using a direct quote from Shakespeare, seems to juxtapose their situation (her breaking down and confessing to her sins; he being there to alleviate her fears) to a similar scene in Macbeth, the one immediately after Macbeth kills Duncan.  The words Rhett uses belong to Macbeth himself:
"Whence is that knocking?
How is't with me, when every noise appalls me?
What hands are here? ha! they pluck out mine eyes.
Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand?
No, this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green one red."
Macbeth, Act 2, Scene 2
There is one important difference between the two scenes though (besides Scarlett not being guilty of murder, of course). In Shakespeare's play, Macbeth is the one shaken by the enormity of his own deed, while Lady Macbeth tries to calm him down, basically by mocking his emotional state and hesitations. In Gone with the Wind, Scarlett  breaks down and Rhett offers the comforting. This reversal of roles is made more interesting by the fact that neither Lady Macbeth, nor Scarlett are conventional female characters. In fact, they share a fair number of characteristics that set them apart from women of their respective time periods.

To begin with, they are both more ambitious and determinate than their husbands. (This, at least, applies to Scarlett's first two husbands, though I suppose there is a case to be made for Scarlett also being emotionally stronger than Rhett, all things considered.)  Of course, Scarlett's ruthlessness is far less reaching than Lady Macbeth's and  justified by her evolution and experiences throughout the book, and her transgressions far less severe. But Lady Macbeth pushing her husband to commit murder still finds a softer echo in Scarlett bullying Frank into actions that don't agree with his worldview/code of honor (like forcing his friends to pay their debts). 

In both cases, the characters' real strength (comparable to that of any man) is opposed to the role society assigns to them as women. We know how Scarlett assuming traditionally masculine roles was seen by Atlanta. What is interesting to note though is that the words used to describe that episode parallel yet another extremely famous speech from Macbeth, the one where Lady Macbeth, afraid her husband won't be up to whatever it takes to attain their goals, begs "Come, you spirits/ That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, /And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full/ Of direst cruelty."

Here is Scarlett's behavior during her marriage with Frank, seen through the eyes of Frank and of Atlanta: 
"All of his life, Frank had been under the domination of the phrase 'What will the neighbors say?' and he was defenseless against the shocks of his wife's repeated disregard of the proprieties. He felt that everyone disapproved of Scarlett and was contemptuous of him for permitting her to 'unsex herself.' She did so many things a husband should not permit, according to his views, but if he ordered her to stop them, argued or even criticized, a storm broke on his head."
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter XXXVI
And here is Melanie, acknowledging that these words have been used to describe Scarlett:
"I don't mean you've ever been unwomanly or unsexed yourself, as lots of folks have said. Because you haven't. People just don't understand you and people can't bear for women to be smart."
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter LV
As someone pointed out in this excellent analysis, throughout the novel Scarlett fails to fit into traditionally feminine roles, while excelling at traditionally masculine ones. She's a bad daughter, nurse, wife, mother etc., but a great businesswoman and provider for her family. Moreover, she often pushes the men in her life to play the passive roles usually reserved for women. These actions are all regarded as evidence that she is unsexing herself, and thus sanctioned by society. 

So, if they are so similar in their defiance of gender roles, why is Scarlett moping around and waiting for Rhett to tell her everything is fine, while Lady Macbeth dismisses her husband's guilt and focuses on practical matters (such as how to frame others for the murder)?

At the core of Scarlett's character, there are a number of tensions between conflicting traits, such as her sentimental attachment to the Old South and her practical embracing of the New South, her desire to conform to traditional feminine roles and her (how shall I put it delicately?) utter lack of talent for them. As such, it is not surprising that there are a handful of scenes in the book where Scarlett is passive/weaker and in need of help, where she in other words reverts to the role of the woman.  And these moments are almost always connected with Rhett, who is constantly depicted as being hyper-masculine and the only one able to put Scarlett in her place, so to speak. 

The contrast between the two scenes above, the scene in Macbeth and the prelude to the proposal scene from Gone with the Wind, shows that we are dealing with exactly that sort of moment here. While Lady Macbeth, true to her character, was the one in control and able to steady her husband's nerves, here it is Scarlett that needs the comforting and Rhett who is able to provide it. It is no wonder then that this scene segues into the proposal, where Rhett continues his manly man strike by kissing Scarlett into submission.

Now, before I leave you, if you want to read a really cool, really interesting piece on the function Shakespeare quotes and allusions play throughout Gone with the Wind, check out this article: The Old and New South: Shakespeare in Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind by Darlene Ciraulo. It is completely worth your time, I promise, and it discusses at length the parallel between Scarlett and Lady Macbeth.

And now, goodbye and thanks for reading!
 

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Rue de la Paix

Here's a little collage I made, featuring one of our favorite GWTW posters--Rhett and Scarlett embracing at Tara. Who doesn't love an alternate universe GWTW scenario from time to time? 


Rhett and Scarlett at Tara

Famous Fans of GWTW

As it turns out, being a fan of GWTW puts you in some pretty exclusive company. From stars of the silver screen to athletes to world leaders, the list of famous GWTW fans is a long one--not to mention a rather eclectic one. In honor of these celebrity Windies, we've created a new page, Famous Fans of GWTW, which you can find on the side bar.

The link to the new page is also below. Be sure to check it out and let us what you think. Also, if you're aware of any famous Windies who we've neglected to add, don't hesitate to let us know--and we'll get them added to the list.  

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Poster of the Week

Rhett and Scarlett go riding through Five Points in this week's poster (date unknown). Doesn't Scarlett looked thrilled to be spending time with her companion?

Image from moviegoods.com.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Quotable Rhett Butler: That Weak Imitation of Napoleon

Having taken a look at the reasons England had for not weighing in on the side of the Confederacy, we'll now continue with the second half of Rhett's line and examine France's stance:
"And as for France, that weak imitation of Napoleon is far too busy establishing the French in Mexico to be bothered with us. In fact he welcomes this war, because it keeps us too busy to run his troops out of Mexico..." 
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter XIII
The "weak imitation of Napoleon" is of course Napoleon III, the nephew of The Napoleon (tm, because Bugsie likes him a great deal) and emperor of the Second French Empire. Now, weak imitation of his uncle or not, Napoleon III had plans for the world. All of the world, but some areas in particular. And it so happened that he had a most excellent plan with everything south of the United States, a plan known as the "Grand Scheme for the Americas." Don't let its name deceive you, the Grand Scheme was quite simple really. First step: France gains control of Central and South America and their resources. Second step: France rules the world. 

Napoleon saw an opening for his first step when Mexico (temporarily) ceased to pay its debts to its European creditors in 1861. France quickly made an alliance with the other wronged parties, Spain and England, launched an attack on Mexico, lost its allies on the way (they caught wind of step two and didn't like it one bit, basically),  but still managed to take control of the capital and install Maximilian of Hasburg at the head of a puppet state under French control. Most of this was accomplished because the United States had the courtesy to be otherwise engaged at the time, so yes, the French did welcome the American Civil War in this respect, as Rhett says. After the Civil War ended, the US troops and the Mexican resistance would in fact run them out of Mexico. 

But just because the Civil War suited his purposes quite fine, that doesn't mean Napoleon III didn't have a favorite in this race. He was on the side of the Confederacy, mainly because he thought the Southerners would tolerate his presence in Mexico more easily. He was quoted saying that if the North won, he would be glad, but if the South did, he would be thrilled. ("Si le Nord est victorieux, j'en serai heureux, mais si le Sud l'emporte, j'en serai enchant√©!")  But despite this, he wouldn't act unwisely (for a certain value of "wisdom," where "wisdom" = "what would England do"). And England would not act, for reasons we discussed last week. So France didn't either. And the rest is, as they say, history.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Poster of the Week

We're back with a new poster for your enjoyment. This stylized French poster features  Rhett and Scarlett embracing against a fiery background...one so fiery, in fact, that Scarlett appears to be quite the redhead. 

Image from movieposterdb.com.
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