Gone with the Wind (1939)

Brief Intro

“Gone with the Wind” is a 1939 American epic historical romance film directed by Victor Fleming, adapted from Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 novel of the same name. Set against the backdrop of the American Civil War and Reconstruction era, the film follows the turbulent love life of Scarlett O’Hara, a strong-willed Southern belle, as she navigates love, loss, and survival. Starring Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Leslie Howard, and Olivia de Havilland, it remains one of the most iconic and enduring films in Hollywood history.

Literary Devices Used in Gone with the Wind

1. Symbolism

Movie SceneDevice Example
Scarlett’s green dress at the Twelve Oaks barbecueThe dress symbolizes her envy and desire
Tara, Scarlett’s plantationRepresents heritage and survival

2. Foreshadowing

Movie SceneDevice Example
Scarlett’s determination to never go hungry againForeshadows her future ruthlessness
Rhett’s warning to Scarlett about the futility of the warIndicates the South’s impending defeat

3. Irony

Movie SceneDevice Example
Scarlett marries Charles Hamilton for spite, not loveIronic because she ends up a widow quickly
Rhett leaving Scarlett despite their deep connectionSituational irony

4. Metaphor

Movie SceneDevice Example
The burning of AtlantaMetaphor for the destruction of the old South
Scarlett’s repeated line “As God is my witness…”Metaphor for her unyielding spirit

5. Personification

Movie SceneDevice Example
Tara, as Scarlett speaks to it as if it were aliveTara is personified as a source of strength
The South itself depicted as a dying entity during the warPersonification of the region’s demise

6. Hyperbole

Movie SceneDevice Example
Scarlett’s vow of “I’ll never be hungry again!”Exaggerates her desperation and resolve
Rhett’s declaration that Scarlett is the only woman he ever lovedHyperbolic expression of his feelings

7. Imagery

Movie SceneDevice Example
The vivid depiction of the burning of AtlantaCreates a strong visual impact
Scarlett walking through the field of wounded soldiersEvokes the horror and scale of war

8. Juxtaposition

Movie SceneDevice Example
Scarlett’s opulence contrasted with the poverty around herHighlights societal disparities
Tara’s beauty versus the devastation of warEmphasizes loss and resilience

9. Motif

Movie SceneDevice Example
Scarlett’s repeated return to TaraThe motif of home and survival
The recurring theme of lost loveMotif of unattainable happiness

10. Allusion

Movie SceneDevice Example
References to historical events and figures (e.g., Sherman’s march)Grounds the story in real historical context
Scarlett’s character reminiscent of strong literary heroinesAlludes to archetypal strong women

Character Analysis Through Literary Devices

Character Studies

Scarlett O’Hara

Literary DeviceExplanation
IronyHer relentless pursuit of Ashley despite knowing he loves Melanie reflects her inability to recognize true love, which lies with Rhett.
SymbolismHer green dress symbolizes her envy and desire to possess everything and everyone she wants.

Rhett Butler

Literary DeviceExplanation
ForeshadowingRhett’s initial warning about the futility of the war hints at his pragmatic nature and eventual disillusionment.
IronyDespite his deep love for Scarlett, he leaves her, highlighting the tragic irony of their relationship.

Ashley Wilkes

Literary DeviceExplanation
MetaphorAshley represents the old South, clinging to outdated ideals and unable to adapt to the new reality.
ImageryHis portrayal in the plantation scenes creates a nostalgic image of the antebellum South.

Melanie Wilkes

Literary DeviceExplanation
JuxtapositionMelanie’s kindness and moral integrity contrast sharply with Scarlett’s manipulative nature.
MotifHer consistent goodness and forgiveness act as a motif of unyielding virtue.

Character Dynamics

Scarlett and Rhett’s tumultuous relationship drives much of the narrative, highlighting themes of love, pride, and resilience. Their dynamic is marked by a blend of attraction and conflict, with literary devices like irony and foreshadowing underscoring the tragic nature of their love. Scarlett’s interactions with Ashley showcase unrequited love and self-deception, while her bond with Melanie reveals layers of jealousy, admiration, and eventual respect. These relationships not only develop the characters but also reflect broader themes of survival, honor, and transformation.

Thematic Analysis

Survival and Resilience

Literary DeviceExplanation
SymbolismTara represents resilience and the importance of home and heritage for survival.
HyperboleScarlett’s vow to “never go hungry again” emphasizes her determination to survive at all costs.

Love and Loss

Literary DeviceExplanation
IronyScarlett’s pursuit of Ashley, despite being loved by Rhett, underscores the theme of lost and unrecognized love.
MotifThe recurring theme of lost love is evident in Scarlett’s relationships and unfulfilled desires.

Transformation and Change

Literary DeviceExplanation
MetaphorThe burning of Atlanta serves as a metaphor for the destruction of the old South and the birth of a new order.
JuxtapositionThe stark contrast between Scarlett’s youthful innocence and her hardened post-war persona highlights personal and societal change.

Cinematic Techniques That Enhance Literary Devices

Visual and Sound Techniques

Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
ImageryVivid cinematographyThe visual depiction of burning Atlanta enhances the imagery of destruction and chaos.
SymbolismCostume designScarlett’s various dresses symbolize different aspects of her character and status changes.
IronyMusic scoreThe contrasting cheerful music during tragic scenes underscores the situational irony.

Key Scene Analysis

Scene Selection

  1. Burning of Atlanta
    • YouTube Link
      Breakdown: This scene uses powerful imagery and symbolism to depict the fall of the old South. The combination of vivid visuals and dramatic music heightens the sense of chaos and loss, encapsulating the broader themes of destruction and rebirth.
  2. Scarlett’s Vow
    • YouTube Link
      Breakdown: Scarlett’s vow never to be hungry again is a pivotal moment, using hyperbole and dramatic performance to emphasize her resolve and foreshadow her future actions. The scene’s lighting and close-up shots intensify the emotional impact.


Interactive Multiple Choice Quiz

  1. What does Scarlett’s green dress symbolize?
    • A) Envy and desire
    • B) Wealth
    • C) Innocence
  2. Which literary device is used when Rhett warns Scarlett about the war’s futility?
  3. What does Tara represent in the film?
    • A) Love
    • B) Wealth
    • C) Heritage and survival
  4. Which character is a metaphor for the old South?
    • A) Rhett Butler
    • B) Ashley Wilkes
    • C) Scarlett O’Hara
  5. What is the significance of the burning of Atlanta scene?
    • A) Symbolizes the end of the war
    • B) Represents the destruction of the old South and the beginning of a new order
    • C) Showcases Scarlett’s despair

Answers: 1-A, 2-B, 3-C, 4-B, 5-B