Women Behaving Badly: Five Novels I Love
Gone With the Wind
As young girl watching the Million Dollar Movie with my sisters, I met Scarlett O’Hara and fell in love. Her dark curls and green eyes, her swishing hoop dress–determined and strong and brave, Scarlett did as she pleased, both good and bad. My sisters and I rooted for her as she stole boyfriends, married men she didn’t love, helped Melanie birth her baby, escaped a burning Atlanta, tore curtains from windows to make a gown so she could look like a queen for Rhett, kneeled in Tara’s garden and vowed, “If I have to lie, cheat, or kill, as God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.” She did kill, she did cheat, she did lie, and she was never hungry again. My sisters and I were good girls who already understood that girls were expected to behave well and be quiet. Scarlett struck us with awe. In tough times, my sisters and I would say to each other, “Pretend you’re Scarlett and push through.” I watched the movie many times until I was old enough to read the book. I learned through Scarlett that characters could be as real as living people. She infused me with courage and taught me what a freedom it would be to live life as she did, by her own rules, unburdened by the opinions of others.
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Tags: Anna Karenina, Gone With The Wind, Madame Bovary, The Center for Fiction, The House of Mirth, The Literarian, Vanity Fair