Thursday, October 26, 2006

Two Good Deeds in a Naughty World...

"In her (Melanie's) small face, her eyes were too large for beauty, the dark smudges under them making them appear enormous, but the expression in them had not altered since the days of her unworried girlhood. War and constant pain and hard work had been powerless against their sweet tranquility. They were the eyes of a happy woman, a woman around whom storms might blow without ever ruffling the serene core of her being.

"How did she keep her eyes that way, thought Scarlett, looking at her enviously. She knew her own eyes sometimes had the look of a hungry cat. What as it Rhett had said once about Melanie's eyes -- some foolishness about them being like candles? Oh, yes, like two good deeds in a naughty world. Yes, they were like candle, candles shielded from ever wind, two soft lights glowing with happiness at being home again among her friends."

Isn’t this a lovely quote about a woman’s loving heart being reflected in her eyes? Yes, I know it’s cheesy to be inspired by a quote from Gone with the Wind. But, after all, I did grow up in Georgia, where the book takes place. And, my family in Tennessee endured the Civil War and its aftermath, just as the characters in Gone with the Wind did. Our family stories were so vivid that I don’t think I quite realized they had taken place nearly one hundred years before I was born! So, when I read GWTW, it seems to me as if I’m reading about people that I know. (I must add a caveat here: Sadly, the book reflects the patronizing racial attitudes of author Margaret Mitchell’s own era and of the time of Civil War setting).

At any rate, Melanie is quite a study in gentle, unselfish, sweet, and quietly courageous womanhood. Did you know that Margaret Mitchell originally intended to make her, and not Scarlett, the heroine of Gone with the Wind? Unfortunately, people from outside of the South picture Scarlett as the ultimate Southern woman. Actually, it is Melanie who Mrs. Mitchell lifts up as the true Southern lady.

Enjoy!
Elizabeth

9 comments:

Mrs Blythe said...

I have not read Gone With the Wind, but I have watched the film. The quote is very lovely.

Elizabeth I have linked to one of your previous posts called All the days, I hope you don't mind :o)

Elizabeth said...

Hi Mrs. Blythe,

I'm glad you enjoyed the quote.

I'm also happy to have you link to one of my posts.

Elizabeth

Mrs. Wayne Hunter said...

Thank you so much for pointing out that Melanie is the real Southern treasure of the two. My daughter, who's fifteen, and I have always thought so, though we have only watched the movie instead of reading the book. You have inspired me to obtain a copy, God willing, and read it! Thanks for this interesting post!

Elizabeth said...

I'm glad that you and your daughter ahve enjoyed the character of Melanie from the movie.:) I hope you'll enjoy her description in the book, as well. I would suggest, though, that you read the book before you give it to your daughter or else that you both read it at the same time. Though your daughter sounds like a very discerning young woman, an adult's guidance would be helpful.

Thanks for stopping by and postin!

Elizabeth

Mrs. Wayne Hunter said...

Hi! Oh, I definitely planned to read it aloud to her - that way I could leave out what needs be for her. Thank you for suggesting that, though! And thanks again for the interesting posts concerning the book.

Elizabeth said...

What a great idea to read it aloud together!

GWTW does have many timeless truths about the two roads a woman can take in handling the trials of life. Melanie's continual decisions to be pure, loving, and trusting are shown to be the victorious way in the end.

Rhett's character sums up the theme of the book when he alludes to Matthew 10:39. It really is the story of two women -- 1) one who gained the whole world and lost her soul in the process and 2) one who was willing to lose her life and the world and who gained her soul in the process.

But, GWTW is not a religious book, per se. Along the way to the conclusion, there are some worldly things mentioned.

So, I was panicking a bit that I might have inspired a fifteen year old to read it on her own, without adult guidance. But, if you to choose what to read to her and also talk to your daughter about the various choices that Scarlett makes compared with the choices Melanie makes, I'm sure you will enjoy the book a lot.

Happy reading!
Elizabeth

Elizabeth

Mrs. Wayne Hunter said...

Thank you for the information on the book. I am glad that you brought these things up. Are there any physically explicit writings in this book? I hope not, as I doubt I would read it at all, either by myself or with our daughter.

Elizabeth said...

Well, if you've seen the movie, you pretty much know the plot. So, you won't have any big surprises on that account.

I don't remember any physically explicit scenes, but there are some implied things.

For example, as in the movie, Scarlett clings to her childhood crush on Ashley even after Ashley is married and Scarlett herself marries -- three times. Her thoughts about Ashley are never physically explicit. Instead, she weaves a romantic dream around Ashley, making him a hero in her mind. She wants something beautiful to think about so she can escape the pain and fear she faces during and after the war. The book makes it clear that she realizes in the end that she never loved Ashley after all, but made up a storybook hero in her mind. The bottom line is, however, that Ashley was never hers to dream about. Her crush on him is adulterous, even if its in her mind.

Also, while the book doesn't spell out what it means, it implies strongly that Belle Whatling runs a questionable establishment. And, the book hints that Rhett starts spending more and more time there when he can no longer stand the turmoil in his marriage with Scarlett.

And, the last part of the book, which deals with Rhett's and Scarlett's marriage reads like a "What Not to Do" manual on marriage. Though Scarlett and Rhett both have feelings for each other, they are both afraid to be vulnerable with each other. Thus, they are cruel to each other. You have more of a sense in the book just how deeply both of them are hurting inside.

And, of course, Rhett finally walks out on Scarlett.

So, I suggest checking out a copy from the library and deciding what you think. The Melanie character stands in contrast to the worldliness and is held up as the example that should be followed.

Enjoy!
elizabeth

Elizabeth said...

Something else I thought of was that there are brief mentions that some some of the male characters smoke, drink, or gamble -- especially Rhett and Scarlett's father. But, again, this is not held up as an example to follow. There are other men in the book who don't do these things.

I noticed over at another homemaking site that they used a passage from GWTW in which Scarlett's mother instructs her on an aspect of ladyhood. And, some of the women responded that GWTW is their favorite book. So, I may be being too finicky here.

Enjoy!
Elizabeth