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Who is the real heroine of Gone with the Wind: Scarlett O'Hara or Melanie Wilkes?

July 15, 2017

When I think of Gone with the Wind, Scarlett O'Hara comes to mind because it's her story. From the opening scene where she's surrounded by admiring suitors to her on-again-off-again relationship with Rhett Butler to her dogged determination to keep Tara by any means, we see her morph from a self-absorbed debutante to a self-absorbed widow again and again. But one overriding characteristic persists. Scarlett wants what she can't have. There's no doubt she's a survivor, and we admire her resolve to overcome her circumstances, but through it all, she doesn't change; she's still self-absorbed and wants what she can't have.

Melanie Wilkes didn't get her cousin's self-absorbed genes. She doesn't have Scarlett's indomitable spirit. She doesn't have Scarlett's resolve and ingenuity to overcome obstacles. But what Melanie has is the ability to see the best in people like Scarlett and others. She is gentle, kind, faithful, loving, forgiving. Sounds like a list of the fruit of the Spirit, doesn't it? Books aren't written with Melanie as the main character. That bothers me. We're more drawn to self-absorbed people like the Scarletts and the Kardashians and the housewives from every metropolitan city.

The thing is I think I'm more like Scarlett than Melanie. What about you?

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