Book Review: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Gone with the Wind is written by Margaret Mitchell, and it was first published in 1936. The storyline belongs to Clayton Country, Georgia and Atlanta. The history behind the book is of a slave-holding-society during the American Civil War and Reconstruction Period.


Mitchell published the book in 1936, seventy one years after the Civil War ended. The lavish plantation lifestyle in Georgia, and then its deterioration with the ravaging Civil War, it is all so well described by the author. Through it all, there is a flavour of romance in the plot.


The blood-shed of war which depicts the moral and psychological consequences on the characters of the book makes the chapters vibrant. The author draws a very vivid picture of the changes which come in the lives of the people living in the South.


The novel contains 984 pages, set in 1800’s. It is indeed, a great historical read, narrating the times and customs of that period. How everything changes in the end is also described with precision.


The heroine of the book is Scarlett O’Hara, who is selfish, conniving, jealous – she can rely on her feminine charms to get what she wants in life. She meets her match in Rhett Butler, whom she marries (for the second time – the first time she was widowed). Their fiery, turbulent relationship is described by Mitchell in the most brilliant way. The execution of the novel is flawless; every chapter keeps building newer energy for the next chapters. Indeed, Gone with the Wind so well describes the Civil War in America which took place between 1861 to 1865. The slavery, politics and the social fabric of that time was intriguing, interesting and complicated. Mitchell being as American journalist and author wove the novel into the finest classics, ever.


The book was made into a film, and won a then-record of eight Academy Awards, including, Best Picture in 1939, and till today, ranks as the all-time North American box-office winner with $ 1.6 billion worth of tickets sold here when adjusted for inflation.


Both the book and the film adaption, serve as a valuable document of history. Through the novel’s perspective, the reader can see the Southern Culture towards slaves and slavery. The book captures the contrasts between the slaves and the gorgeous lives led by the Southern rich society, and the self-pity that lingered after the Confederacy’s defeat – Scarlett’s class lost their moral superiority. The wealth from the plantations by which the ‘upper-class’ lead lives was beyond one’s imagination. The way the slaves (workers on the plantations) were treated is also a horrifying fact in the book.


Within six months of publication in 1936, Gone with the Wind had sold a million copies. Mitchell is an awesome writer – her book brought her a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1937. Gone with the Wind was the only novel which was published during her lifetime.


In most recent years, a collection of the Mitchell’s girlhood writings and a novella she wrote as a teenager, Lost Laysen have been published.



Geeta Chhabra

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