As I watched Gone With the Wind’s 75th anniversary theatrical release on September 28, I was struck by the gossip scene: Mrs. Meade tattling to Mrs. Merriwether about Scarlett selling lumber to the Yankees; Aunt Pittypat whispering to India Wilkes about Scarlett driving a buggy around town by herself.
This sequence was based on the still popular notion that those dishing dirt or divulging secrets must be women. However, I submit that the men in Gone With the Wind are far worse. Consider the following scenes:
“Gerald’s Walk With Scarlett”: After Scarlett admits to her father that Ashley hasn’t asked to marry her, Mr. O’Hara blabs that Ashley won’t: “I had it in strictest confidence from John Wilkes this afternoon that Ashley’s going to marry Miss Melanie.”
Not being content to break his solemn word to Mr. Wilkes once, Mr. O’Hara then proceeds to spill the beans about Ashley and Melanie to the rest of the family, which is revealed during…
“Young Ladies’ Nap”: As the young ladies prepare for their afternoon naps at Twelve Oaks, Suellen O’Hara uses this juicy inside information to needle Scarlett, telling her: “You’ve been sweet on Ashley for months! And his engagement’s going to be announced tonight. Pa said so this morning!”
So much for holding a secret “in strictest confidence,” Mr. O’Hara.
“War Talk”: Gerald O’Hara raises a ruckus with the gentlemen in the Twelve Oaks dining room over speculation about the impending war. He draws Ashley into the excited talk then tries to get Rhett to agree with their suppositions.
“I think it’s hard winning a war with words, gentlemen,” Rhett responds, and this triggers verbal jousting with Charles Hamilton. Their sparring over war-related gossip might have led to a duel — and the death of Charles — had Rhett not apologized and withdrawn.
“Paddock Love Scene”: When Scarlett seeks his advice about what to do since the Yankees have raised Tara’s taxes, Ashley confesses he has no help to give. Scarlett begs him to run away with her to Mexico, vowing to work and to do anything for him.
“You know you don’t love Melanie. You told me you loved me that day at Twelve Oaks. And, anyway – Melanie can’t – Dr. Meade told me she couldn’t ever have any more children.”
By revealing Melanie’s medical condition to Scarlett, Dr. Meade shattered the patient confidentiality portion of the Hippocratic Oath. A physician is required to “keep sacred and secret” knowledge gained during the course of the medical practice.
As Melanie would say: “Dr. Meade, I’m astonished at you!”
Happy 75th Anniversary, Gone With the Wind!
Blog Bio: Pauline Bartel is the author of The Complete GONE WITH THE WIND Trivia Book (2nd edition) and an expert on the film and its history. Visit the website (www.paulinebartel.com/resources/books/books-available) for further information. Follow her on Twitter @PaulineBartel and “like” her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/TheCompleteGWTWTriviaBook).