Gone with the Wind, directed by Victor Fleming, is one the best known and highest grossing films in Hollywood history. Set during the Civil War, the female heroine Scarlett O’Hara experiences the horrors of love and war first hand. She is a naïve, typical Southern Belle in the beginning before war, a hard working leader during Reconstruction and a wiser, new woman after the war is long over. She lusts after the spoken for Ashley Wilkes, and it oblivious to a rich suitor, Rhett Butler and his genuine love for her. She marries for spite and her motives are almost always self-fulfilling. Scarlett “embraces the new order” of the South with “self-interest and impatience” due to her stubborn and arrogant personality toward everything and everyone around her. Regular Southern women’s lives are pulled out from under them when the Union wins the War. Most women chose to stay out of the mess or surrender completely to their losses. But, not Scarlett; she fights till the end, not letting herself or Tara get left in the dust. (Edwards 121). She is the “antithesis of the exalted female ideal,” which makes her stand out from other characters and mild underlying plot lines (Roberts 4).
Along with its illustrious “costume drama” characteristics for the Civil War era, the complicated and strong-willed female protagonist Scarlett O’Hara is most memorable for her wardrobe and her special relation to Tara Plantation. The film is set before, during and after the Civil War. Scarlett’s “iron-willed, indomitable spirit” fuels the film from its light-hearted scenes to its darkest moments (Howard 4). She plows the plot through the uncertain times and becomes a sort of heroine for the South.
Scarlett O’Hara changes from being a little girl to a scorned, yet independent woman. Her hats, green dresses and the shots of Tara Plantation show her as changing in different aspects. Hats show her way of presenting herself and her desired relationships with other people. The green dresses, all drastically different in design, show different aspects of her personality and relations with the men of her life. Tara follows the rise and fall of both Scarlett and the Civil War and shows how Scarlett can be compared to be a representation of the South through the years of the Civil War. The costumes Scarlett wears, specifically hats and green dresses, as well as her interactions and similarities with Tara Plantation, independently reflect different changing aspects in her personality, as well as illustrate unsaid motives, and foreshadow future events in the film.
by Jessica Billings