Making the Southern Myth: Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind Essay

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MAKING THE SOUTHERN MYTH: MARGARET MITCHELL’S GONE WITH THE WIND 2 CONTENTS INTRODUCTION ……………………………………………………………….. I. GONE WITH THE WIND IN HISTORICAL CONTEXT 1. The Popular Front of the 1930s ………………………………………….. 1.1. The celebration of America ………………………………. 1.2. End of the Popular Front …………………………………. 2. Margaret Mitchell and Gone with the Wind ……………………………… 2.1. Personal history …………………………………………… 2.2. The success of Gone with the Wind ………………………. II. PLOT SUMMARY 1. Gone with the Wind’s idealized types ……………………………………. 1.1. Scarlett O’Hara: born to be strong ………………………… 1.2. Rhett Butler: reluctant Southern patriot …………………… 1.3. Ashley Wilkes: archetypal Southern gentleman …………... 1.4. Melanie Hamilton: illustration of Southern virtue ……….... 2. Depiction of slaves ……………………………………………………….. 3. Depiction of harmonious plantation life ………………………………….. III. MAKING THE SOUTHERN MYTH 1. Depicting the destruction of Southern life ……………………………….. 2. The significance of film and novel in cementing a false picture of Southern life …………………………………………………………… CONCLUSION …………………………………………………………………... SUMMARY ……………………………………………………………………… STRESZCZENIE ………………………………………………………………… REFERENCES …………………………………………………………………… 4 6 8 9 10 10 12 14 14 16 18 19 21 22 25 27 30 31 32 33 3 INTRODUCTION This paper, entitled “Making the Southern Myth: Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind”, is an analysis of Margaret Mitchell’s novel and the picture of the South she created. The book was officially released on June 30, 1936 and sold 50,000 copies within the first day, reaching 30 million by 1997. The novel had and still has a big impact on people’s image of the antebellum South, and for some time cemented an idealized and inaccurate picture of Southern life. In the first chapter the historical background in which the novel was written is briefly discussed. The 1930s were

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