Scarlett O’Hara, proto-feminista
Scarlett O’Hara: A Hero for Our Times? se pregunta Steve Coates en el Paper Cuts a partir de la publicación del libro de Molly Haskell Frankly, My Dear. Ahí el personaje de Lo que el viento se llevó de Margaret Mitchell, interpretado inolvidablemente por Vivian Leigh, deja de ser ese ser humano caprichoso y engreído, incapaz de abrir los ojos al dolor ajeno así arrasen su vida y la de su pueblo, para convertirse en una heroína proto-feminista. ¿Puede ser? ¿Por qué no? Algo de Emma Bovary tiene, sin duda:
Harriet Beecher Stowe may have been “the little lady that started this great war” with “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” but, horrifyingly, it was “Gone With the Wind,” Haskell reminds us, that together with D.W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation” imprinted a false image of Reconstruction and its aftermath that is still being corrected today.
On the other hand, it should always have been clear that Scarlett O’Hara is a proto-feminist heroine, “the post-suffragette flapper meets the post-feminist power girl,” as Haskell puts it, “who grows more astonishing over time.” Scarlett is “eerily timely, channeling the spirit of an age, Mitchell’s youth-obsessed ’20s, that resembles ours to a jarring degree.” In “A Jury of Her Peers: American Women Writers From Anne Bradstreet to Annie Proulx” (reviewed March 8), Elaine Showalter considers Mitchell as a Depression writer: Mitchell’s message “endured because it spoke to the universal uncertainties of the 20th century as well as to the particular struggles of the Confederate past. Her mother had told her that with the Civil War, the seemingly secure world of the South ‘had exploded beneath them,’ and ‘my own world was going to explode under me, some day, and God help me if I didn’t have some weapon to the meet the new world.’ ” Showalter goes on to quote the critic Blanche Gelfant, who said that “Gone With the Wind” was “about the American ’30s — about dispossession and loss, homelessness, hunger, the collapse of a society and its miraculous recovery.” When asked what “Gone With the Wind” was about in a 1936 interview quoted in the satisfyingly hefty Scribner trade paperback edition of 2007, Mitchell put it this way: “If the novel has a theme, it is that of survival. What makes some people come through catastrophes and others, apparently just as able, strong and brave, go under? It happens in every upheaval. Some people survive; others don’t. What qualities are in those who fight their way through triumphantly that are lacking in those that go under? I only know that survivors used to call that quality ‘gumption.’ So I wrote about people who had gumption and people who didn’t.”