ebookclassics

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (1936)

goneDo you remember the Book to Movie Challenge? I think I failed to generate consistent interest and participation in the challenge, so at this stage I think I’ll start all over again in January and hopefully do a better job.

In the meantime, it may have taken 4 months of on-and-off reading, but I finally finished Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell for the read-along hosted by Corinne and Brona way back in May, and words aren’t enough to say how much I adored this book. I also watched the movie adaptation from 1939 starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable.

THE BOOK
First published in 1936, Gone With the Wind remains the only novel published by Margaret Mitchell. The novel was a winner right out of the gate, topping bestseller lists for two years straight, with Margaret Mitchell winning the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1937. To this day, Gone With the Wind remains one of the most popular American novels of all time following the Bible.

THE STORY
Gone With the Wind follows the trials and tribulations of Scarlett O’Hara, a young and beautiful Southern belle from a cotton plantation in Georgia during the American Civil War and the Reconstruction Era. Scarlett comes of age in the story as she faces the terror of war and death, the loss of family and friends, the desperation of poverty, and the disappearance of a way of life that defined the South.

* CONTAINS SPOILERS

THE GOOD
Gone With the Wind has everything I could ever want in a great read: a dramatic setting; unforgettable characters who make you fall in love with them despite their flaws; and a riveting plot with colossal historical and social context. The book is very long, but I became captivated by Scarlett’s rebelliousness and how she defied society’s expectations of her to become independent and control her own destiny.

THE BAD
Unfortunately, the secondary black characters in the book are one-dimensional stereotypes and depicted as simple-minded or even stupid. This leads, of course, to the portrayal of racism in Gone With the Wind. The racism and language is definitely offensive and explains much of the controversy that is still attached to the book and movie today.

THE MOVIE
Although the movie doesn’t stay completely true to the novel and removed numerous details, I still thought the adaptation successfully captured the scope of the novel’s epic story. Most importantly, the right actors were cast to play Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler, our less than perfect couple.

CONCLUSION
Gone With the Wind is not a historical romance nor a Civil War epic. The story is about survival, independence and identity featuring one of the most love-hated heroines of all time, and the most quotable (“As God as my witness … “Fiddle-dee-dee!” … “…for tomorrow is another day”). You can’t read Gone With the Wind without confronting the issues of black slavery and racism; however, is it possible to write about this era without including the racist attitudes of that time? I think not and believe generations of readers have taken this into consideration, choosing to see what can be learned about the past in order to change the future, and continue to love Gone With the Wind for all of its literary greatness.

Book = 5/5 Stars

Movie = 4/5 Stars

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15 comments on “Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (1936)

  1. janceewright
    September 29, 2015

    I read GWTW quite a while ago…maybe late middle or early high school? Regardless, I despised it. I read the book, watched the movie, hated them both. I can’t really explain why, I just don’t like it.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      September 29, 2015

      You’re not alone. I know someone who was appalled I was reading the book. GWTW never fails to incite all kinds of feelings.

      Like

      • janceewright
        September 29, 2015

        It wasn’t that I was offended or distressed or anything like that. I don’t know what it was. Just not my thing, I guess.

        Like

  2. AmberBug
    September 29, 2015

    I loved this book too – read about a year ago. I never would have pegged myself to be a fan but I was really surprised at how it moved me. I was back and forth with loving and hating Scarlet and the same goes for Rhett. I felt the movie made Scarlet out to be worse than the book, at least with the book we saw a bit more of her sentimental side.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      September 30, 2015

      I agree we get to see a little more complexity to her character with the book. I went back and forth loving and hating Scarlett and Rhett too. I think that made me more attracted to them somehow. Weird.

      Like

  3. Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy
    September 29, 2015

    I finally saw the film, maybe a year ago, and enjoyed it, but I’m not sure if I would want to tackle the book. Because of the length mostly, but perhaps it would be interesting to really understand Scarlett’s character in the novel. I’m glad the book was better for you though – with such an iconic movie, I did wonder if the movie told the story better in a succinct way!

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      September 30, 2015

      I thought the movie did a good job and didn’t mind that some of the characters were removed because I was having a hard time keeping track of them. But the book is full of gorgeous descriptions of Tara and the country, so you get a deeper understanding of Scarlett and her father’s love for their home.

      Like

  4. Naomi
    September 29, 2015

    I both read and watched GWTW so long ago. I remember liking the book, but thinking the movie was missing a lot of the deeper stuff that was in the book. I put that so eloquently (very tired right now). I also think the movie is so overly-dramatic (are all old movies like that?).
    But, definitely a good book. And, I think the racial issues have to be there to make the book authentic. That’s the way it was then. Look how far we’ve come. But, not far enough (if I was awake and with it, I would refer you to a contemporary novel that still has plenty of racism and other form of isms in it, but you get the idea).
    It always feels good to make it through a big, fat book, especially one that you loved, doesn’t it?

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      September 30, 2015

      Thank you for taking the time to comment even though you’re tired. 🙂 It does feel good to finish a big, fat book and to have loved the story. I don’t think I felt this satisfied when I finished War and Peace. There was definitely a lot of overly-dramatic moments (and over-acting!) in the movie, but I think that’s part of the movie’s charm.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Brian Joseph
    September 30, 2015

    I must confess, while I appreciate older films, and I like movies of various styles and genres, I find Gone With the Wind difficult to like.

    Based upon its ubiquitous popularity this may reflect my own shortcomings.

    I did not know that the book was still so popular.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      September 30, 2015

      I was surprised that the book is still so popular too. I think this reflects how much the themes of the book resonate with readers.

      Like

  6. jessicabookworm
    September 30, 2015

    I haven’t read the novel, slightly daunted by the size, but I do love the film 🙂

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      September 30, 2015

      It really helped me to read the ebook, so I wasn’t actually aware of the novel’s physical size. I would read for weeks and then see I still had 600 pages or so to go. That’s when I would take a break. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. DoingDewey
    October 14, 2015

    I had some trouble generating enough excitement for this challenge when I was hosting. I’ll try to do a better job participating next year too 🙂 This has been on my to-read list for ages and I really enjoyed hearing your thoughts!

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      October 14, 2015

      Thanks so much! I really love book adaptations, so I don’t want to give up on this challenge. I think there’s so much to explore and talk about.

      Like

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This entry was posted on September 29, 2015 by in Book to Movie Challenge, Reviews and tagged , .

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