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Gone with the Wind

Main Ideas

Key Facts

Main Ideas Key Facts

full title  Gone with the Wind

author   Margaret Mitchell

type of work   Novel

genre   Romance novel; historical fiction; bildungsroman (novel that charts the maturation of the main character)

language   English

time and place written  19261936; Atlanta

date of first publication  1936

publisher   Houghton Mifflin

narrator   The anonymous narrator speaks in the third person and is omniscient, having access to the thoughts, emotions, and histories of all characters and possessing insight into the context and consequences of events in the novel that the characters lack. The narrator generally voices the upper-class Southern perspective on the Civil War and slavery.

point of view   The narrator follows Scarlett almost exclusively, occasionally pulling back to give broad historical descriptions and analysis

tone   The narrator treats the characters and the plot seriously but often criticizes characters who take themselves too seriously

tense   Past

setting (time)  1861–early 1870s

setting (place)   Atlanta; Tara, the O’Hara plantation in northern Georgia

protagonist   Scarlett O’Hara

major conflict   Scarlett struggles to find love, trying out Ashley Wilkes and Rhett Butler, while simultaneously trying to adjust to the changing face of the South

rising action   Scarlett confesses her love to Ashley; Scarlett marries Rhett; Scarlett and Ashley embrace

climax   Bonnie dies while horseback riding, breaking the tie that binds Rhett and Scarlett

falling action   Scarlett falls down the stairs and miscarries; Rhett tells Melanie of his love for Scarlett; Melanie dies; Scarlett realizes that she loves Rhett, not Ashley; Rhett abandons Scarlett

themes   The transformation of Southern culture; overcoming adversity with willpower; the importance of land

motifs   Female intelligence and capability; alcohol abuse; prostitution

symbols   Rhett Butler; Atlanta

foreshadowing   Gerald O’Hara’s dangerous horse-jumping in Chapter II is part of a pattern of reckless behavior and hints at his later death, and that of Scarlett’s daughte Bonnie Blue, both in riding accidents