Welcome to CKSA, your trusted source for all things classic cinema. In this article, we delve into the captivating character of Scarlett O’Hara, brought to life by the talented actress Vivien Leigh in the 1939 epic, ‘Gone With the Wind.’ Join us as we embark on an exploration of Scarlett’s depth and her profound impact on cinematic storytelling.
A Determined Protagonist
Scarlett O’Hara, the central character of ‘Gone With the Wind,’ is an enigmatic Southern belle with dark hair and piercing green eyes. Her journey unfolds against the backdrop of the Civil War and the tumultuous period of Reconstruction. Scarlett is not the typical Southern lady with refined manners; she embodies her father’s hard-headedness and a fierce determination to achieve her desires, unbound by societal restrictions. Her journey is one of determination and survival, where she pursues her goals relentlessly, often by any means necessary.
A Woman of Ambition
Scarlett’s unwavering determination drives her to achieve her aspirations, even at the expense of conventionality. Initially, she strives for the admiration of the young men in her neighborhood, resorting to narcissistic and sometimes backstabbing tactics. However, her evolution is marked by the dire circumstances of war and the threat of starvation. In these trying times, her sheer determination compels her to survive. Scarlett’s survival story takes many forms, from picking cotton to managing her decimated plantation to forging a successful business. She is even forced into a situation that involves taking a man’s life.
Obsession and Heartbreak
Scarlett’s relentless determination is exemplified by her relentless pursuit of Ashley Wilkes. Her passionate but unrequited love for Ashley shapes the narrative of the novel. Scarlett’s marriage to Charles Hamilton, her loyalty to Melanie Hamilton, and her tumultuous relationship with Rhett Butler are all influenced by her unwavering desire to win Ashley’s affection. However, her fixation on Ashley ultimately leads to her losing her true love, Rhett.
An Unconventional Leader
Scarlett possesses a remarkable talent for business and leadership. She resurrects her father’s ravaged plantation, Tara, in the aftermath of the war, demonstrating resilience and resourcefulness. Her success extends to her Atlanta-based sawmill, where she excels as a businesswoman. Despite her sharp intelligence, Scarlett has difficulty understanding both her own motivations and the emotions of others. She approaches life with rationality, prioritizing success and finding the most effective means to achieve her goals, often without considering values such as honor and kindness.
A Mirror of the South
Scarlett’s transformation parallels the evolution of the South itself. She transitions from a pampered teenager to a hardworking widow and a prosperous opportunist. This metamorphosis mirrors the South’s transition from a society of leisure to a besieged nation, and eventually to a compromised survivor. Scarlett embodies the essence of both the Old and New South, as she clings to the idealized past represented by Ashley while thriving in the harsh realities of the New South. Her association with the complex character Rhett Butler mirrors her ability to bridge the old and new worlds.
Scarlett O’Hara, as portrayed by Vivien Leigh, remains one of the most iconic and enduring characters in cinematic history. Her depth, complexity, and unwavering determination have left an indelible mark on classic cinema. As we revisit ‘Gone With the Wind,’ we invite you to delve deeper into the intriguing character of Scarlett O’Hara and appreciate her timeless legacy.
Share your thoughts and insights on this multifaceted Southern belle, and stay tuned for more explorations of classic cinema on CKSA.