Gone With the Wind

Scarlet O'Hara: Symbol of the Delusional South College

Gone with the Wind opens with a grandiose description of the South: according to the opening text, this is the region where “gallantry took its last bow” and “knights and their ladies” took a stand against the onslaught of Northern aggression. This terminology tries to tie the genteel South depicted in the film to the ideals and perception of the chivalric medieval times. This tie is appropriate, as both times have been misrepresented historically; that is, many romanticize the medieval era of European history and the antebellum era of American history. For them, it is easier (or less painful) to see the beautiful damsels and the gallant knights in shining armor—the equivalent of the belles and the plantation owners—than to see the serfs and lower classes struggling to build a castle or tend a field, just as slaves kept plantations and tended crops. The mechanism by which these time periods were established and maintained—i.e. slave labor—is overshadowed to the point of nonexistence by the spectacle of the settings and characters associated with those periods. Gone with the Wind gives viewers a distracting visual stimulus—what Tom Brown, quoting Laura Mulvey, calls ”to-be-looked-at-ness”—in its over-the-top sets and costumes,...

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