How does the novel seem to affirm Karl Marx’s proposition that “history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles" within its context as a historical romance?
When the story opens, the Confederate economy is still strong, slavery is legal and Scarlett O’Hara is a rather flighty and silly teenager. Had the struggle between the landowner and the slaves not erupted into the Civil War, everything would have remained the same. This includes, most likely, Scarlett who would have gone to live a life as the wife of someone—probably not Ashley and almost certainly not Rhett. She might have taken an interest of sorts in the plantation business, but she would not be the same person. Being on the wrong side of the class struggle leave her home in ruins and this instills her determination to rebuild. Face with needing money she doesn’t have to deal with the new struggle between the classes in which the carpetbagger have subjugated the former owners of plantations, goes fully mercenary in marry the shopkeeper fiancé of her own sister expressly for the purpose of raising money to pay the taxes levied by the carpetbaggers. Scarlett become a microcosmic personification Marx’s central tenet that revolutionary shifts creating new social paradigm result directly from class struggle.
What does the novel say the fundamental requirements of becoming a successful leader?
After the war, Scarlett literally goes from having nothing to eat to living in a grand home among the elite of Atlanta society and she has managed this transformation almost entirely on her own. Scarlett has been ruthless whether dealing with other businesspeople or dominating and sometimes betraying members of her own family. Worth remembering before indicting her as entirely selfish and spoiled, however, is the price she has paid herself. The adult Scarlett has been hardened almost beyond recognition from that flighty young girl preparing for the party as Twelve Oaks as the novel opens. Scarlet has overcome the worst possible kinds of adversity as a demonstration of willpower and focus, but something else as well. Scarlett’s success through willpower also demonstrates that possessing a completely unselfish willingness to sacrifice the best part or most cherished aspects of your nature in pursuit of that goal.
How can the ending of the novel be described as ironic?
In a sense, at some point along the way in the story—and that point may vary for each individual, it is certainly not true that a singular moment can be identified—every reader of Gone with the Wind will realize that Ashley Wilkes just is not in any way or shape a good romantic match for Scarlett. Equally true is the realization that of all the many men who have been her suitor or whom she has actually married for that matter, none is more perfectly suited to temperament than Rhett. For every reader who reached the same conclusion about 500 pages earlier, the gap understanding that is only filled by Scarlett herself on the very last page is about as ironic as it gets.
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