In Defense Of Scarlett O’Hara

5 Mar

Hollywood's Greatest Year: The Best Picture Nominees of 1939


(Is this or is this not the most dramatic Scarlett O’Hara picture of all time?  Agreed.)

Recently a friend told me she didn’t like Scarlett O’Hara because Scarlett is selfish.

I was completely taken aback by this.

Sure, Scarlett is selfish.

She’s also determined, driven, whip smart. She has a strong sense of home.  She’s insecure and bold, often at the same time.  She will go to any lengths to get what she wants.  She’s passionate.  She’s intense.

And, yes, she can be selfish.

Scarlett O’Hara is real, and that’s why I love her.

In fact, when you look at any of my favorite protagonists, they are severely flawed individuals.

Bridget Jones is a bit shallow.  She spends too much time concerned with her weight and what men think of her.  She’s disorganized.  She’s messy.

Yet she is hilarious.  She’s loyal.  She picks herself up when she spectacularly falls down.  I adore, adore, adore Bridget Jones.

The fact that she’s a bit of mess only adds to my love.

I could go on and talk about Anne Shirley’s flakiness or Jo March’s stubbornness or why all my favorite protagonists are females I overrelate to, but I won’t.

I suppose the point I’m trying to make is we’re all a lot of things.  To assume one characteristic defines us is to miss all of our other characteristics.

The brilliant Meg Fee tweeted an article after Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death along with this, “It’s such a fallacy isn’t it–to think that we are who we are at our worst? That’s only part of us–certainly not the best part, or richest.”

I’ve been thinking about that ever since.

To think my moodiness or my lack of balance defines me is to miss all of the other, wonderful qualities I possess.

On a lesser, fictional scale to think Scarlett O’Hara’s selfishness defines her is to miss so many other, richer parts of her.

(I’m really taking this relating to a fictional character thing to a new level, aren’t I?)

Let’s move along.

Recently I had to come up with “five words that describe me” for an assignment.

These assignments always stress me out because I feel, particularly as a writer, some sort of pressure to come up with not only five words, but five magical words that convey my life, personality and hopes and dreams while making everyone in the room go, “Wow.  She’s something else, isn’t she?

It’s a set up for failure.

And so fail I do.

I ended up using, “drama queen with good intentions” as my words, but I asked a few other friends in the process what my five words might be.

An old friend who knows every inch of my tar black soul (so to speak) came up with these words for me:






“Yes,”I thought.  “All of the above.”

And then I shared these words with some other friends and was surprised by their reactions.  They told me the words were harsh.

“Harsh?” I thought.

Spot on.

I am emotional and obsessive.  (My freaking goodness I am obsessive, let’s not go into that right now.)  I’m also caring and sensitive.  I’m a million things, and most (all?) of them are double-edged swords.

I’m not defined by a single one of these words, but as a whole they make me who I am.

The caring, impetuous, sensitive, emotional, obsessive, thoughtful, loyal, selfish girl I am.

Yes, sometimes I’m selfish.

Perhaps it all comes back to that.  

Perhaps this whole blog post comes back to that.

Sometimes I am selfish.

But that is not all I am.

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One Response to “In Defense Of Scarlett O’Hara”

  1. Zoe April 16, 2020 at 12:03 pm #

    The difference between average selfishness and Scarlett O’Hara selfishness, is that hers comes without empathy for others. It comes without the ability to take responsibility for her actions. She is completely unaccountable for how her actions affect other people. It’s got a name: Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Scarlett O’Hara fits the criteria to a T. As a survivor of narcissistic abuse, watching Gone with the Wind is actually traumatizing – that’s how real those qualities are in her character.

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