Gone with the Wind Response

620 words | 3 page(s)

Slavery before the Civil War

In Gone with the Wind, slave-owners were depicted largely as a genteel group of people. Scarlett O’Hara is repeatedly seen antagonizing some of the house slaves, but in apparent good nature. Regardless, the slave-owners seemed to view their role as beneficiaries of the slaves; their ownership was grounded in the supposed philanthropy that formed the basis of their relationship. Ultimately, the white slave-owners lived under the belief that their ownership served the interests of the slaves as well, as the slaves could not possibly be capable of pursuing their own lives, independent of good-meaning slave-owners. The slaves themselves are depicted as hard-working and content. Very little of the film insinuates that they might be unhappy with any part of their life (Gone with the Wind, 1939).

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Romanticism of War
The young men in the film are depicted as elated for the opportunity to fight for their way of living. Enthusiastic about preserving their lifestyle and values, the young men eagerly enlist and quickly begin their voyage to the battle front. Furthermore, they seem to persevere in their belief that the war will quickly and easily be resolved in a positive manner for the South. Thoughts were expressed along the lines of ‘gentlemen will win the war because they are not rabble.’ Very little doubt existed initially, and outrage was expressed when Rhett Butler expressed his very pragmatic views of the situation between the North and South. His practical explanation of the predicament the South was in, if entering a war with the North, evoked outrage among the Southern men. Even the reality of the South not having the same resources as the North, like cannon and other weapon factories, did not faze the Southern men (Gone with the Wind, 1939).

Meanwhile, the mothers, wives, and sisters shared similarly idealistic views of the war. The women were demonstrably proud of their men whom they believed to be fulfilling their duties as Southern gentlemen, at least initially. However, as time continued to pass, and negative reports from the battles continue to be relayed to various families, the romantic view of the war held by so many began to lose its fervor. The loss of so many loved ones, along with facing difficult times on the home front, began to open the eyes of many who had obliviously supported the war (Gone with the Wind, 1939).

After the negative effects of war began to trickle back, people began to loosen their idealistic views. Reports of deaths and injuries incurred by soldiers invoked a more realistic view of the effects of war. Famine and other shortages of necessities, both among soldiers and their families at home, elicited further realism about the atrocity that war often brings about (Gone with the Wind, 1939).

Jim Crow Era
Simple promises made by maleficent opportunists to the recently freed slave population were eagerly accepted. Sadly, the freed slaves lacked a lot of common knowledge due to their sheltered lives before the war. This, combined with the immediate necessity of seeking employment and housing, made for a zealous, easily persuaded group of people. As is unfortunately often the case, ill-meaning opportunists took advantage of those in the throes of desperation. Ex-plantation owners and other opportunists relished in money-making ventures that sometimes mimicked their past. Since they had relied on free labor prior to the war, some took a similar approach and enlisted the indentured servitude of convicts. Carpetbaggers from the North also swooped in to profit from the demise inflicted through the destruction of the South. And thus the era of Jim Crow was brought about (Gone with the Wind, 1939).

  • Selznick, D.O. (Producer) & Fleming, V. (Director). (1939). Gone with the Wind. Country of origin: United States.

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