Monday, July 12, 2010

Shakespeare in Gone with the Wind (also featuring, bills)

"'If you think Confederate money is cute, Will, I certainly don't,' said Scarlett, shortly, for the very sight of Confederate money made her mad. 'We've got three thousand dollars of it in Pa's trunk this minute, and Mammy's  after me to let her paste it over the holes in the attic walls so the draft won't get her. And I think I'll do it. Then it'll be good for something.'

'"Imperious Caesar, dead and turned to clay,'' said Melanie with a sad smile. 'Don't do that, Scarlett. Keep it for Wade. He'll be proud of it some day.'" --Gone with the Wind, Chapter XXX

I read Gone with the Wind before I read Shakespeare. I also read Gone with the Wind before the internet was readily available (at least for me). So the above quote didn't mean much to me until I read Hamlet and jumped out of my seat looking like an idiot uttered a small delighted gasp of surprise. Isn't that one of the nicest feelings in the world, to stumble across quotes used in Gone with the Wind in their natural habitat?

Melly's quote comes, of course, from the graveyard scene in Hamlet, in which Hamlet is moodily meditating on life, death and the human condition (what else is new?).  His speech is the typical example of the ubi sunt genre. Here are the quotes relevant for understanding Melly's line: 

          "Why may
          not imagination trace the noble dust of Alexander,
          till he find it stopping a bung-hole?"
                                               (5.1. 186-88)

          "Imperious Caesar, dead and turn'd to clay,
          Might stop a hole to keep the wind away:
          O, that that earth, which kept the world in awe,
          Should patch a wall to expel the winter flaw!"

It's actually a very nice image, the one Melly is able to so briefly invoke, isn't it? I've always found it interesting that the two things that are compared to unfortunate Caesars in Gone with the Wind are the Confederacy and Rhett. In an admittedly very loose way, it seems to reinforce the idea that his connection to the Old South is deeper than he cares to acknowledge.

After the jump you have some images of Confederate money, that iso scanned from The Authentic South of Gone with the Wind: The Illustrated Guide to the Grandeur of a Lost Era. I figured you didn't have enough of Confederate bills this week.

A Confederate one dollar bill displaying a picture of George W. Randolph, Secretary of War.

A Confederate twenty-dollar bill with a portrait of Vice President Alexander Stephens.

A State of Georgia ten-dollar bill from 1864.  Richer states, like Virginia and Georgia, produced their own currency to assist the war effort.

A Confederate fifty-dollar bill showing a picture of President Jefferson Davis.

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