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A Study of Scarletts

Scarlett O'Hara and Her Literary Daughters

Margaret D. Bauer

Publication Year: 2014

There are two portrayals of Scarlett O’Hara: the widely familiar one of the film Gone with the Wind and Margaret Mitchell’s more sympathetic character in the book. In A Study of Scarletts, Margaret D. Bauer examines these two characterizations, noting that although Scarlett O’Hara is just sixteen at the start of the novel, she is criticized for behavior that would have been excused if she were a man. In the end, despite losing nearly every person she loves, Scarlett remains stalwart enough to face another day. For this reason and so many others, Scarlett is an icon in American popular culture and an inspiration to female readers, and yet, she is more often than not condemned for being a sociopathic shrew by those who do not take the time to get to know her through the novel. After providing a more sympathetic reading of Scarlett as a young woman who refuses to accept social limitations based on gender and seeks to be loved for who she is, Bauer examines Scarlett-like characters in other novels. These intertextual readings serve both to develop further a less critical, more compassionate reading of Scarlett O'Hara and to expose societal prejudices against strong women. The chapters in A Study of Scarletts are ordered chronologically according to the novels' settings, beginning with Charles Frazier's Civil War novel Cold Mountain; then Ellen Glasgow's Barren Ground, written a few years before Gone with the Wind but set a generation later, in the years leading up to and just after World War I; Toni Morrison's Sula, which opens after World War I; and finally, a novel by Kat Meads, The Invented Life of Kitty Duncan, with its 1950s- to 1960s-era evolved Scarlett. Through these selections, Bauer shows the persistent tensions that both cause and result from a woman remaining unattached to grow into her own identity without a man, beginning with trouble in the mother-daughter relationship, extending to frustration in romantic relationships, and including the discovery of female friendship as a foundation for facing the future.

Published by: University of South Carolina Press

Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication, Quote

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

An early version of chapter three was published (with the same title) in Ellen Glasgow: New Perspectives (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1995) and is reprinted here with permission. More material in that chapter is also drawn from an article I created out of material cut from that essay and published...

List of Abbreviations

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pp. xi-

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Introduction

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pp. 1-17

I well remember my first viewing of the movie Gone with the Wind with my eighth-grade class in the mid-1970s. Our history teacher took us to see the movie on the big screen as it made its last rounds in theaters before going to cable. I was so disturbed by the movie’s ending, Rhett leaving Scarlett...

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Chapter 1. In Defense of Scarlett O’Hara

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pp. 18-33

My first or perhaps summary complaint with the critics of Scarlett O’Hara (including both her own community in the world of the novel and the community of readers outside of it) is this: if she were a man, almost none of her behavior would be found so objectionable—certainly not her enterprising...

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Chapter 2. Gone with the Men: Scarlett and Melanie Redux in Cold Mountain

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pp. 34-58

Gone with the Wind (the film as well as the novel) is often mischaracterized as a romance. Arguing against such a classification, Harriet Hawkins notes the novel’s lengthy focus on the women after the men have gone to war: “Nowadays the film and novel tend to be characterized as deplorably romantic...

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Chapter 3. “Put your heart in the land”: An Intertextual Reading of Barren Ground and Gone with the Wind

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pp. 59-89

When Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind was first published in 1936, reviewers compared it most often to Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Thackeray’s Vanity Fair; thus, it was likely inevitable that critics would later write extended articles delineating the similarities to these novels, as Harold K. Schefski...

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Chapter 4. Sula: “More sinned against than sinning”

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pp. 90-115

Almost fifty years after Glasgow’s Barren Ground was published, Toni Morrison set her novel Sula in about the same period of time that Glasgow left Dorinda. Sula certainly takes place in a different region of the country, Ohio, and depicts a different culture, a community descended from slaves, but still...

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Chapter 5. “Disregarding the female imperative”: Kat Meads’s Kitty Duncan, a 1960s-Era Scarlett O’Hara

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pp. 116-137

Kat Meads’s fictional biographer for her novel The Invented Life of Kitty Duncan (Benedict Roberts Duncan), Mo, is, like Sula’s Nel, drawn to a woman seemingly her complete opposite: for Meads’s biographer-character, it is the title character of Meads’s novel. Readers may find Kitty Duncan reminiscent...

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Afterword

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pp. 138-144

During the years that I worked on this book, when I would mention my subject to colleagues, they would recommend a “Scarlett” for my study, but more often than not, the suggested characters were more comparable to the typical misperception of the character type, an unfairly critical view of Scarlett that...

Bibliography

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pp. 145-152

Index

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pp. 153-160

About the Author

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pp. 161-


E-ISBN-13: 9781611173741
E-ISBN-10: 1611173744
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611173734

Page Count: 176
Publication Year: 2014

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Subject Headings

  • Mitchell, Margaret, 1900-1949. Gone with the wind.
  • Frazier, Charles, 1950- Cold Mountain.
  • Glasgow, Ellen Anderson Gholson, 1873-1945 Barren ground.
  • Morrison, Toni. Sula.
  • Meads, Kat, 1951- Invented life of Kitty Duncan (Benedict Roberts Duncan).
  • O'Hara, Scarlett (Fictitious character).
  • Women in literature.
  • Social role in literature.
  • Man-woman relationships in literature.
  • Female friendship in literature.
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