Gone With the Wind Imagery

Gone With the Wind Imagery

Rhett as a Pirate

Rhett Butler is one of the more complicated and overtly morally gray characters in Gone with the Wind. When the reader is introduced to Rhett, Mitchell likens him to a pirate.

"He was dark of face, swarthy as a pirate, and his eyes were as bold and black as any pirate’s appraising a galleon to be scuttled or a maiden to be ravished. There was a cool recklessness in his face and a cynical humor in his mouth as he smiled at her, and Scarlett caught her breath."

This dark, pirate imagery sets up an air of mystery around Captain Butler. He is a dark character in a society that values purity, dignity, and, of course, whiteness above all.

The Sounds of War

Mitchell expertly uses auditory imagery to depict the impending doom brought by the war. The terror and fear is palpable in descriptions such as, "everyone listened to the sound of booming cannon and the crackling of thousands of rifles which, though five miles away from the center of town, were so loud as to seem almost in the next block. They could hear the rumblings of the batteries, see the smoke which rolled like low-hanging clouds above the trees, but for hours no one knew how the battle was going."

The use of sound, or lack there of, is even more impactful as the war draws closer to Atlanta. Mitchell's uses a shift from the distant sounds of war to an unnerving silence to highlight the severity of the situation. As Sherman drew closer to Atlanta with his army in tow, "Autumn with its dusty, breathless heat was slipping in to choke the suddenly quiet town, adding its dry, panting weight to tired, anxious hearts."

The Dialect of the Slaves

Mitchell made a dramatic, and now often controversial, choice to use a colloquial dialect written out for the slave characters, like Mammy and Prissy. Phrases like, "Miss Melly, den Ah know he los’ his mine. He drunk an’ he need sleep an’ sumpin’ ter eat but datain’ all. He plumbs crazy. He jes’ push me outer de do’ an’ say: ‘Git de hell outer hyah," further differentiate the class and status of the slaves versus the white people in the novel. These phrases can often be difficult to understand and highlight the two different societies cohabitating Georgia.

The Living Land

Mitchell's lively and evocative descriptions of the Georgia's landscape are prominent throughout the novel. She relies heavily on imagery to bring the land to live. Through descriptions like, "the whitewashed brick plantation house seemed an island set in a wild red sea, a sea of spiraling, curving, crescent billows petrified suddenly at the moment when the pink-tipped waves were breaking into surf," Mitchell is able to turn the otherwise inanimate land into a character of it's own.

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