Gone With The Wind

Original Novel by Margaret Mitchell, published 1936. Wins Pulizter Prize in 1937.
Film directed by Victor Flemming, produced in 1939.

The Lost Cause: An Introduction to Gone with the Wind

Note-taking Worksheet

Film Analysis Projects

A block

Graham and Daniel
Dempsey and Maggie
Stevie and Duncan
Sam and John
James and Jordan
Mark and Mia
Chris and Antoine

E block

Sarah, McKenzie and Aristotelis
Josh and Gabe
Greg and Quincy
Camille and Jeffrey
Scotty and Gustavo
Sam and Julia

A block Gone with the Wind Discussion (by Maggie)

Today we reflected upon our viewing of Gone With the Wind with the critical eyes of modern consciousness, noting the film’s warped dealings with race and flagrant elevation of the “lost cause” tradition and old (antebellum) south “ideals”. We revisited the characters, quotations, and imagery that we felt propelled this “lost cause” narrative: Ashley and Melanie (the archetypal man and woman of honor and gentility), him without a place in the world and her dying with unborn child; the frivolity of the Wilkes’ BBQ—ignorant of the harsh institution (black labor) that fuels it; ”; the use of white and light and the contrasting images of the gallant Mr. O’Hara galloping across the land on his white horse and his unseen slaves drudging along in the shadowy trees across the lake; tormented moments of reminiscence and the realization that this “[ideal] doesn’t exist anymore. We noted a hardened Scarlett and the tacky wealth she shared with Rhett, identifying the contrast of white plantation and gaudy brick mansion as further support for a subliminal message that this new south is unconducive to the kind, light-hearted, honorable and innocent. The class culminated in the introduction of our assignment. We divided ourselves into groups of two in which we will break down the imagery and implications of scenes of our choosing.

E block Gone with the Wind Discussion (by Sarah)

Having seen Gone With the Wind two nights ago, our in-class discussion was largely about the film. We now enter into a film project. The class will break into pairs (or groups of three) and analyze a single scene of no more than five minutes. Each group will closely look at words, words/text on the screen, film angles/shots, and various images in its scene. Each group will go on to create a video pod-cast on the I-pad by taking screenshots of moments throughout the scene.
A major theme in the film, the “Lost Cause Tradition,” a narrative about the “lost” Southern society after the Civil War that began in Reconstruction that grew stronger in the early 20th century. It is important to note that the “Lost Cause” tradition was an idea, not a historical term or reality by any means.
The film depicts the Southern society as losing its money, land, purity, and honor. Gone with the Wind suggests that southern society loses its slave society and plantations, an affluent “high class,” and version of slavery in which the slaves support the slavery, a rather insidious suggestion. The film glorifies old southern society in a carefree vision of the South, a gentile, civil, beautiful, lavish society. The film ultimately suggests that all that was great about old Southern society was lost because of “Northern aggression,” an entirely false accusation.
Gone with the Wind also speaks to the outrageous stereotypes projected upon audiences throughout the film, such as Prissy and Mammey—both of whom are characters directly from the overtly racist “Minstrel Show” in the 19th century.
Because Scarlett and Rhett ultimately are the rich and powerful characters, the film goes to suggest that the morals and values of Southern society, and American culture, have changed dramatically.
In class today, we looked at two scenes directly from the movie and analyzed them. First we watched the scene with Ashley and Melanie at the 12 Oaks barbeque. Subsequently, we watched the scene of Ashley and Scarlett reminiscing about all the power and status he once had: “[I remember] the high, soft laughter of Negroes in the quarters,” suggesting that Ashley’s memory is all about power. Slavery and slaves were a way of showboating wealth, security, and prosperity. Value and wealth were clearly in slaves.