Different Civil War Perspectives in Popular Novels

Categories: Novel
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Gone With the Wind is a novel that sets in the Old South, from the start of the Civil War to the period of reconstruction. The main character of the story is the stunning Scarlett O’Hara. The O’Hara family owns a plantation called Tara. Before the war started, life at Tara was proper and Scarlett was the most breathtaking girl in the area. In the beginning of the story, she is excited for a barbecue at the neighboring Wilkes plantation because the boy she is madly in love with, Ashley Wilkes, will be there.

Then something unpredictable happens. Scarlett becomes completely heartbroken when she finds out that Wilkes is destined to marry his cousin, Melanie Hamilton. Out of spite, she marries Melanie’s brother. Then the war starts. Scarlett moves to Atlanta and begins to notice the destruction that the war bring.

She also becomes reunited with a man that she had met at the Wilkes barbecue, named Rhett Butler.

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As the story goes on, Scarlett’s first husband passes in the war and she begins mourning for her original love, the married Ashley. She’s hopeful that he’ll come home, until the South loses the war. Once the war is over, she returns to her family’s plantation and has to deal with the struggle of keeping Tara from being sold at auction and the difficulty of keeping her family together. She has becomes desperate and will do anything to make sure she never becomes poor and hungry, even if it means marrying her sister’s significant other.

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Once her second husband dies and Scarlett becomes a widow for the second time, she marries the charming Rhett Butler. Not too long into their marriage, they find themselves at disagreement. Their relationship is doomed from the beginning.

Gone With the Wind was written by an author named Margaret Mitchell. Margaret Mitchell was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on November 8th, 1900. At the age of twenty-six, Mitchell broke her ankle which ended her journalist career with the Atlanta Journal Sunday magazine and left her crippled. Instead of using her injury as a setback, Mitchell used it as an opportunity to start writing a novel that would become Gone With the Wind. Margaret’s relatives, many of which had experienced the Civil War and were veterans of the Confederate army, told little Margaret stories about the American Civil War, which really fascinated her.

Her father, Eugene, who was a prominent lawyer and a historian, attracted her interest in the history of the South and he taught her to love the South. Margaret and Stephen, her younger brother, spent a lot of time in their childhood in Clayton County, the part of Georgia where their ancestors settled and were part of a wealthy planter elite. These are very probably the reasons why she set the story of her only published novel, Gone with the Wind, in the town of Atlanta and rural Clayton County in Georgia, during the Civil War and Reconstruction and why the story is presented from the point of view of the South.

Gone With the Wind finally became published ten years later, in 1936, and made Mitchell an instant celebrity. The romantic novel about the Civil War and Reconstruction became a classic. Unfortunately, Mitchell was hit by a car and died in 1949, leaving Gone With the Wind as her only novel. (https://www.biography.com/)

In terms of the culture of the nation, Gone with the Wind differs from most Civil War novels by praising the South and demonizing the North, which teaches the reader the perspective of the Southerner during the Civil War. Other popular novels about the Civil War, such as Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage, are told from a Northern perspective and tend to promote the North’s values. Written in a different time period than the Civil War period, Mitchell’s work is unique for portraying the main character, Scarlett O’Hara, as a strong-willed, independent woman. Scarlett not surprisingly shares many characteristics with Mitchell herself. Furthermore, the novel doesn’t only connect to the Civil War and slavery, but it also connects to women’s rights, which were very limited during this time period and were not a part of American culture.

In addition, written from the perspective of the slaveholder, Gone with the Wind’s portrayal of slavery and African Americans has been considered controversial, in part because of its use of racial titles and ethnic slurs common to the period. However, the novel has become a reference point for writers of the South, both black and white. Scholars at American universities refer to, interpret, and study it in their writings because it teaches heavily the culture of the south in the 1800s. The novel has been absorbed into American culture, especially after the release of the motion picture of the same name in 1940.

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Different Civil War Perspectives in Popular Novels. (2022, Apr 18). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/gone-with-the-wind-and-stephen-crane-s-the-red-badge-of-courage-popular-novels-about-the-civil-war-written-from-different-perspective-essay

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