The symbolism of Scarlett O’Hara

Everybody must know until now who Scarlett O’Hara is, how she looked, or what course her life took from the beginning of the movie until the curtains fell. However, there are some similarities which need to be underlined yet again between this character and a certain part of the American history.

I believe that Scarlett’s life is guided by one single goal: to succeed, no matter what it takes. Thus, I see her trying to behave (to respect the norms) as hard as she can. However, she gives into her own egocentric purposes and often acts contrary to what her social status would dictate. For example, you could take into consideration how she tries to win the hearts of all the young men in her neighborhood. She doesn’t settle for a single man’s admiration, she wants the lot and she is willing to do what it takes.

When her life begins to spiral out of control, she maintains her composure and she tries to make ends meet by doing something she wouldn’t if the circumstances didn’t change. She even starts working on the plantation in order to survive. Yet again, I believe that this is also a statement of who Scarlett O’Hara is.

It can be said that she leads a rational life, since later on she recovers the plantation her father owned and finds even more success with her own sawmill. She is, in other words, a very good business woman, that sets her goals and does her best in order to see them accomplished. However, taking into consideration what I have said before, this also means that she is all rational and that she doesn’t care at all about the other aspects of life. She doesn’t care about kindness and honor, not when these two stand in the way of her plans.

And this is the point where I believe I can say that Scarlett O’Hara’s destiny represents actually the mirrored development of the South. Her story represents both the old and the new South: it is an arc which starts with a spoiled and vain teenager, who becomes a hard working woman, who later on ends up being a wealthy opportunist.

But is this a bad thing? Can Scarlett O’Hara be blamed for who she is? I believe not, since she is also a symbol of female empowerment. She will survive, no matter what.

Actually, some of her words describe the best what I have said: As God is my witness, as God is my witness they’re not going to lick me. I’m going to live through this and when it’s all over, I’ll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.

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